Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Chris Dyer's Metaphysical Boarding


The exhibition starts on the 8th, the blow-out vernie is on the 10th at 8 pm.

I've already been told that the flyer is "some trippy shit, man." I hope you can make it.

Monday, August 30, 2004

More fun with math


Back in January I wrote about attendance figures here at Zeke's Gallery in comparison to those of the Musée des Beaux Arts. Well, now the CBC's Arts Report is reporting that because the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is in the news they are getting more people in the door. In fact it looks like they are (if I read the article correctly) that they get about 120 people visiting per day after the lawsuits made headlines. If my math is good, this means that they used to get about 100 people per day.

Hmmm, looking at the Canada Revenue Agency's Annual Information Return for 2002 for the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, it appears that they received $1,150,319 from a variety of sources. Back in January I compared the square footage between Zeke's Gallery and the Musée des Beaux Arts. This time I'll keep it simple, it looks to me, that Zeke's should be able to get $115,032 without doing anything more than I am already doing. Or for the math challenged, Zeke's Gallery does about 10% of the attendance of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, hence the 10% of the funding.

My guess is with $115,032 per year, Zeke's Gallery could outdraw the Beaverbrook.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Pros and Cons of a New Art Magazine


Way back at the beginning of the month the The New York Times reported that Condé Nast Publications was planning on publishing a new magazine devoted to Visual Art. Now the focus of the article was pretty much, "Condé Nast publishes magazines devoted to expensive consumer culture, so it seems reasonable that they do one for art, right?"

Then, two bloggers, decided that this wasn't a good idea. Quoting from Modern Art Notes, "So Conde Nast is going to launch an art mag... good. Gawker nails it." Moving over to Gawker (not a regular read for me)

"Conde Nast's recent principle has been to celebrate the attainable -- give the people magalogues! Buy some shoes! You'll look and feel like you have a bigger dick if you wear these pants!... But what Truman [the editor of the unnamed magazine] really smells, beyond the cred of a "serious" publication and some personal satisfaction? How sexy those high-end, Fendi-glasses-wearing eyeballs are to his advertisers."
Umm, not to belabor the obvious, but I wonder how Jessica Coen, Elizabeth Spiers, Choire Sicha, Nick Denton or Tyler Green would feel if the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, Architectural Digest, or GQ wanted to publish something that they wrote? (All of the previously mentioned magazines are owned by Conde Nast.)

I subscribe to the idea (not any of the above mentioned magazines) that there is no such thing as bad press. I adore it when an artist performing here gets a write up in the Journal de Rosemont, I equally adore it when an artist exhibiting here gets a write up in Canadian Art Magazine. And I have said it in the past, "I would love to see more slams in the paper."

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Bernard Lamarche on CIHA 2004


Before I got sucked into le Palais des congrès to get some learnin', M. Lamarche wrote 983 words as a preview of the Congress. Now that I have survived it (and enjoyed myself thoroughly) I figure that I can go back and read it to find out what I missed.

By my count there were 182 lectures, M. Lamarche says that there were more than 200. Obvioulsy my eyes had glazed over by the time I started counting. Other than that he gives a nice explanation of the who, what, where, when and why of CIHA. Most of his text is based on a conversation he had with Nicole Dubreuil (her official title is vice-doyenne à la Faculté des études supérieures de l'Université de Montréal, impressive, eh?) who also organized the whole shebang.

I would have preferred if he had mentioned some of the superstars who graced our fair city, and something more about why this was so important, but I guess I can be happy that something was written in the popular press.

Jérôme Delgado on Bettina Hoffmann


Last weekend M. Delgado wrote 489 words on the Bettina Hoffmann exhibit happening at the Liane and Danny Taran Gallery of the Saidye Bronfman Centre. We get to learn that Ms. Hoffmann moved to Montreal from Berlin in 2000, and that sometimes advertisements make better use of new photographic technology, but that the exhibit is good. Glad to read that.

Sarah Milroy on John Massey


Well, you'd think that she be a little more apologetic, Ms. Milroy finally gets around to visiting Ottawa and she writes 1,372 words on the exhibition that Mr. Massey is having at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. While she is very effusive in her praise for the show, she also is a tad tardy. The exhibition opened back at the begining of May, and it closes next week. Nothing like getting it in under the wire.

By my count she was in Ottawa back in May when the exhibit opened, so did her editors delay the article until now? Or was there some frantic phone call placed from Ottawa explaining that there wasn't much time left to see Mr. Massey's stuff?

Getting back in the Saddle


I think I have completely recuperated from CIHA2004 (the 31st Congress of the Comité international d'histoire de l'art) and while it was extremely tiring (being in doors for three days listening to four syllable words, and cocktail parties four straight nights) it also was a blast.

I think that the highlight for me was the talk by Peter Stohler and Daniel Walser about "The "Un-Private Home" as a Site of Art Display." To reprint their abstract:

Prestigious bourgeois settings such as the Kramlich Residence in California (architecture: Herzog & de Meuron), built to house both the couple and their art collection, are not the only places where art is staged in private spaces for a public audience in the form of temporary exhibitions. In European cities too, a trend towards places in which art is presented contextually, away from conventional institutions, in private homes, has been noticeable in the past few years. This development is possible because the very concept of privacy is softening at the edges in the face of changing ideas in the Western world about living and working (as shown in the exhibition The Un-Private House, curator Terence Riley, MOMA, New York 1999). The "Un-Private Homes" are a hybrid, semi-public exhibition venues ("not-so-white-cubes"). They walk a fine line between a will to present art and demands posed by public interest.
Between the obvious relation with Zeke's "No White Cube" and the most frequent question posed by visitors here; "do you live here, too?" There were way too many similarities. I was very happy to hear that there were other places in the world that were doing similar things. Now I just need to get my hands on a copy of their talk, and see how I can make this place even better.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Alexandra Gill on bad jokes and hotel art


I'm catching up, Ms. Gill wrote 1,679 words yesterday about The new Four Seasons Resort in Whistler, B.C. Incidentally, she mentioned some art.

Submitted without comment, but entirely out of context:

"Is that upside down or is it art?" Taber asked Laurie Cooper, the resort's public-relations director.
"It was so funny," recalls Cooper, who assured Taber the print was meant to hang that way...

Hotel art, once the mainstay of washed-out reproduced masterpieces and the butt of bad jokes, has recently acquired a bold new lease on life.

Somehow, it strikes me that the idea of not knowing how to hang contemporary art is a bad joke. (ok, so I did comment, sue me!)

Bernard Lamarche on Le Va-et-Vient


Another entry in the eternal catch up, M. Lamarche wrote 550 words about the upcoming shows at the bar on Notre Dame West in Saint Henri last Thursday.

What I find most interesting, is that while they exhibit paintings there, and M. Lamarche is one of two visual arts critics for Le Devoir, he does not even mention a single visual artist.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Globe and Mail


I missed it the first time around, but it appears that Russell Smith wrote an article about what he found beautiful on the 12th of August. It appears to be a pretty tame summertime article, you know "and the living is easy."

What did catch my eye was the follow-up column which had as its title, "Struck by beauty: The readers respond" obviously I bit.

Next time I gotta remember to chew, the things that Mr. Smith's readers think are beautiful are really banal. (thirty percent like children, forty percent like landscapes, I only hope that the remaining thirty percent have some sense) No wonder there is a market for Hallmark Cards.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Bernard Lamarche on Patrick Coutu


M. Lamarche writes 701 words on the latest and greatest exhibit to grace Rene Blouin's gallery. By way of introduction, he uses the first paragraph to describe the invitation to the exhibit. Not as bizarre as it sounds, if you are familiar with M. Blouin, which most of Le Devoir's readers will be. Bizarre as all get out, if you're not. He then goes on to describe and analyze the pieces in the exhibit, no surprises there.

I obviously gotta go and get myself a better French dictionary, because he uses words like "tiges," "squelette éventré," "friables," "figés," which just ended up making me stop, blink twice, and go "hmmm."

From the words that I did understand, he did make the exhibit sound interesting, and as Michel Hellman mentioned at the begining of the month, M. Blouin "has a really good eye."

Michel Hellman vs. Holland Cotter


M. Hellman, of Le Devoir, and Mr. Cotter of the New York Times, both decided to review "Seurat and the Making of 'La Grande Jatte'" at the Art Institute of Chicago. As Le Devoir is a Montreal newspaper, and the New York Times is a New York newspaper (duh!) I'm not certain as to what suddenly made Chicago the new black, but at least for this weekend it is.

To get some easy stuff out of the way quickly, M. Hellman writes 346 words, and Mr. Cotter writes 1,919 words. Hmmm, what can be made of that? Maybe only New York thinks that Chicago is the new black, and Montreal knowing better realizes that Chicago just might be the new orange.

M. Hellman writes a general background to La Grand Jatte, and given the space restrictions imposed upon him, I would guess that I should be thankful that his editors even let him write that. (For those of you not familiar with La Grande Jatte, you might want to click here, or here). He then goes on to be very impressed with the "new" technology aspect, and the thoroughness of the exhibit. There is a limit to what can be said in under 400 words. For comparison purposes, the Art Institute's website uses 219 words just to the describe and analyze La Grande Jatte.

Mr. Cotter, on the other hand is given lots and lots of room to stretch out (for comparison purposes, the museum's website uses 2,071 words to describe the exhibition. So much so, that he even makes jokes!

George Seurat was from outer space. One day in the mid-19th century, he was beamed, fully formed, down to Paris with a few cryptically perfect paintings and some of the most beautiful drawings you'll ever see. Later, age 31 in human years, he was beamed back up to wherever he had come from, leaving behind a few letters, a new kind of art and a big, spacey picture called "La Grand Jatte."
I don't know if you got a belly-laugh, but I did. He then continues on to give a pretty much enjoyable art history lesson on the painting. Nothing too strenuous for a summer weekend's reading, for those with short attention spans early on (the second paragraph) he says that the exhibit is "a wonderful one."

The one thing that struck me (as it is impossible for me to go see the show) is the similarity to it and the Pet Sounds box set that Capitol Records made back in 1997. Why is there a fascination with taking one really kick-ass thing and expanding it to monstrous proportions?

Friday, August 20, 2004

Busy Day


Absolutely ridiculous. Apologies for not being able to write something, but in the meantime, try this article on for size.

Matthew Woodley on Toly Kouroumalis' Lucid Dreams in a Winter of Death.

Cool, eh?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Jerome Delgado on the death of Jean-Paul Jérôme


Jerome Delgado writes a 591 word obituary of Jean-Paul Jérôme. No, I had never heard of him either, which a) shows how lousy my knowledge of Quebecois Art History is, and b) also shows me how unknown Quebecois Art is in comparison to the rest of the world.

Although this ain't Denmark, there is something seriously wrong when M. Jérôme gets 218 hits when Google-juiced, and Zeke's Gallery gets 36,400.

David Cantin on Alain Paiement


Or maybe I should have titled this post "The Hits Just Keep on Coming." M. Paiement takes the show that he had at UQAM in 2002, and got him on the cover of the Montreal issue of Canadian Art Magazine and brings it to Quebec City. M. Cantin writes 558 words about Le Monde en chantier (the name of the show). Given that Anne-Marie Ninacs curated it at UQAM, I sould have seen it coming.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Michel Hellman on Juan Geuer


Le Devoir finally decided to unlock an article about visual art (yay!) and it turns out that Michel Hellman wrote 727 words on a current exhibit at what they call the Darling Foundry, but also could be called Quartier Ephemere. For those of you with short memories, it was only 12 days ago when I published the interview I had with M. Hellman.

The first thing that jumped out at me, was that there are in fact two exhibitions happening at Quartier Ephemere, I wonder how Jean-Pierre Aube is feeling now? Or is M. Hellman planning on writing another review, next week about his exhibition? Or are we supposed to read something into the omission? Or something else?

As there are only three pieces in the exhibit, M. Hellman gives each one a full paragraph, and use his words well to describe them, he also gives a short bio of the artist, and overall gives a good impression of the art.

Le Devoir covers Under Pressure


On Monday, Le Devoir, in an article without a byline reports about the "International Graffiti Convention" that took place here over the weekend.198 words that would have been better if it had been published on, say, Friday or Saturday.

Louise Leduc talks to Guy Cogeval


La Presse got Ms. Leduc to talk to, and follow up the Canadienne Presse article about the various lawsuits Guy Cogeval has been served with that they ran on the 12th of July. She writes 586 words based on an interview she had with M. Cogeval that was requested by the Museum of Fine Arts. As anybody who reads this regularly knows that this is old news, I figured that I would use it as an opportunity to lay out the timeline of the coverage. Also, as I have mentioned before, it looks to me like Annette Leduc Beaulieu and Brooks Beaulieu are doing what is technically called in the Art World as a "cash grab."

August 16, La Presse
August 4, Liberation
July 13, Radio Canada
July 13, Le Devoir
July 13, Canoe [via LCN]
July 12, La Presse
June 17, Globe and Mail - Profile of M. Cogeval, but no mention of the lawsuits.
June 2, The Gazette - Not available on line
Undated, The Art Newspaper
May 28, Washington City Paper

If anybody wants a copy of the lawsuit and the other papers that have been filed, email me, I have copies, be forewarned it is 57 pages of dense legalese.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Simplistic? My eye!


Over the weekend, Washington, DC Art News pointed me over to the Better Home & Gardens website but through MSN, why? Well, they have a cool article (761 words) explaining how to hang art. While the information should be self-evident to any non-mouth breather, there are some of us who every now and again sorta turn off our minds when it comes to visual art. I like things that remind me (and by extension other people) that thinking is good. I also almost bust a gut laughing at the cute little pictures of the couches, nothing like living up to a cliche, eh?

Isa Tousignant on Mémoire vive + L'Algèbre d'Ariane


Picking up from yesterday, Ms. Tousignant writes 631 words in the book review section about Dare-Dare's most recent publication. Contrary to her art column on July 22nd, this one appears in the book review section of the magazine. I like that an awful lot. If you think that Visual Art doesn't get reviewed all that often, Visual Art books get reviewed even less.

The other thing that is wicked cool, is that with this article, Ms. Tousignant succeeded in getting 2,148 words about Contemporary Canadian Visual Art into last week's edition. She deserves some serious props and kudos.

Real Art Rocks!


Run, don't walk to "Real" Art by Peter Bagge which is up on line now at Reason Magazine. I got the link from Caryn at Art.blogging.LA, super special thanks to her.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Interview with Toly Kouroumalis


Toly is the artist who currently has is art up here, I interviewed him about two weeks ago, and Lauren Wagner graciously transcribed the interview. All the pictures were taken by Paul Litherland.

Chris: Your art gives off a lot energy and a lot of emotion especially when you take into account the colors as well as your techniques. On the first look, you say Oh my God, and it's sort of like holy shit and then upon looking at it close you say ...ohhh okay

Toly: Well that [Teenagers in Heat] painting came from a misdialed phone call, this 18 year old girl called me up and she invited me out for a drink, and that's basically it. we were drinking 40's in the back of a depaneur. A lot of the paintings stem from that, misdirected phone calls or tense meetings with people or thoughts that I could encapsulate into one image.

Teenagers in heat - 20" x 30"

Chris: How did you get into painting?

Toly: I started doing illustration design at Dawson, I got into painting cause I was always reading comic books and I was inspired by comic art.

Chris: Anybody in particular?

Toly: At the beginning, every kid likes Boris, but I outgrew that and I got into other styles of paintings.

Chris: No I was thinking in terms of specific comics.

Toly: Comic books themselves? I like the Wolverine series the one John Jacobs did, but I stopped reading comics ages ago.

Chris: So then after Dawson?

Toly: I went to Concordia to study film animation, and moved on from there into live action.

Chris: And what brings you back to painting now, because as far as I know you are still working as a filmmaker.

Toly: I got sick, and I wanted to just sit around and do paintings, cause I've just lost a series of about 80 paintings, my ex-wife has them in Vancouver, so I basically needed a new portfolio, so I thought better sit down and do some work.

Chris: With this series, when did you start and when did you finish?

Toly: When did I start? I don't even remember. It took all winter, I started in the fall and finished it around the spring. I took a month off in between because I was getting bogged down; but I rifled out about 15 paintings and then I reached the plateau and then it was like a combination of all different works, and the last little while capturing the great spirit, and I took it from that time on I just started creating new pieces.

Chris: Which painting is your favorite?

Toly: I don't have a favorite.

Chris: Which is the one you dislike the most?

Toly: Most dissatisfied with? I haven't seen them in a while. I like that one of the hot rod.

Chris: Do you remember the name of it? Is that called Christine?

Toly: No I think it's called Jessica's Hot Rod, I was in a bar and they had a sex Olympics type of thing, and she was one of the girls that I was in the sex Olympics with. They made us do stupid stuff like she would put on a condom with her mouth. So I went home piss drunk and drew that.

Jessica's Hot Rod - 20" x 30"

Chris: When you were drawing it how did you, come up with the image in your head, in terms of the technique?

Toly: I had the car drawn from a comic book, and I just drew her in the driver's seat; but I was inspired by Ed Roth, his style but I took it to another level and made it more of a painting instead of just being flat drawings like you always see.

Chris: So it's a sort of thing where you go through and take marker and draw the car, dump her in...?

Toly: Pencils first then marker, a sharpie just take a sharpie then acrylics and then I just keep on adding layers of acrylics on top. Sometimes I go in a pencil, crayon, sometimes I don't, not in that one but in general. and then I go in and put acrylics and I like to farkles on the guys just so ...

Chris: Farkles?

Toly: Farkles, white spots on the paintings so that certain things just stand out more than the others. I just dip my rag in the paint, where I would stick my brushes and water it's all black and I just do a wash over the paintings so that certain parts in the painting get pushed back.

Chris: In this one specifically?

Toly: Yeah the car is unwashed and she isn't washed, so the car would stand out more for some reason, I don't know, I was just in that mode.

Chris: When you visualize the image, do you visualize in you head and then is it recreated on paper, or are you sort of saying....

Toly: With that one I just sort of let my hand take over

Chris: So then there are certain ones, which you have...

Toly: I enter some sort of trance-like state, it's been talked about to death but it happens, something takes over my arm, my mind.

Chris: How much form in advance was this image before it got onto paper?

Toly: The car was formed, drawing the girl wasn't. The drawing of the girl happened in 30 seconds before I passed out.

Chris: Are there other ones in here which did come to you fully formed? And then you consciously recreated from what you thought out?

Toly: Yeah, Beershits.

Beershits - 20" x 15"

Chris: And then are there ones in here where you had no concept before hand but you just said okay, I'm going to see what comes out; sort of the opposite extreme?

Toly: Opposite extreme, yeah the painting Tanya, a friend of mine, I had no clue that I was going to paint her, it just started happening and everything just kinds happened around it.

Tanya - 20" x 15"

Chris: I see basically three separate styles, what I call splatter, straight up cartoon, comic type stuff such as Tanya, and Teenagers in Heat, and then you have a much more psychedelic style as in Angelina Jolie.

Toly: I tried to capture a Chinese dragon, you know chasing like a dragon type feeling.

Tanya - 20" x 15"

Chris: How do you deicide from your style or conversely, do you see any other ones, am I missing stuff?

Toly: No, you're right. When I start out something I know if it's going to be a graphic looking poster or if it's going to be more of a painting, which you call splatter. With the splatter stuff I do have to develop space sometimes, in other words it's just that I like the way paint looks when it's wet, when it's splattered. So I just work on something as long to make it look good.

Chris: In your art work there are a lot of reoccurring symbols such as skulls, a triple X and the anarchy symbol, I was wondering why are you so interested in this specific symbols?

Toly: They're symbols of our generation really, some of them become mainstream, they don't bear any meaning any more, but I'm trying to put meaning into them again. Like the triple X used to mean something cool but now it's like lost most of it's meaning.

Chris: Do you find or is this a way to unify your work?

Toly: Yeah it puts it into a genre if you will, if you want to look at it that way, of society that is viewed, is not viewed with all the greatest respect. I don't know? I'm a working class kid and this is what's around me.

Chris: How did you conceive of the idea to do Angelina Jolie as a Chinese boat dragon?

Toly: I didn't conceive it, I don't know it just happened, well I had a really intense dream and that was one of the images that was in the dream so I sat down and drew it. I was at my friend's place and I sat down, he was drawing something else, he's a tattoo artist and I was drawing something else, I came up with that. It was a small drawing in black and white, I took it and transferred it on the board, and I colored it. I've done psychedelics, so it tends to come out through the work, I don't do them any more but I have done them, so it's still apart of my psyche, so that's why if something looks psychedelic it's cause it's there, it apart of me.

Chris: Okay yeah so then we sort of touched on this with the history but then she then asks why do you choose the comic book theme as opposed to something else?

Toly: I find that it's freer, you can actually expand upon the themes that you wouldn't normally do in painting; like I'm looking at the wall and I don't know that's the way I feel any way. It also has to do with the medium, I mean if you're working with acrylics it's harder to get something to look like a posh painting or whatever, but I enjoy flat images.

Chris: A lot of your paintings in some way degrade women; I was wondering why this is?

Toly: Degrade women?

Chris: specifically, Resurrection Crucifixion.

Resurrection Crucifixion - 40" x 30"

Toly: Oh , that had something to do with a conversation at a triple X bar, where a girl told me a joke. All that trash about "The Passion of the Christ" was driving me up the wall, and everyone tends to be like so God feared that it makes me ill.

Chris: Let me find out what the title is that I'm pointing to, this is "Soda Pop Sideshow" if you look at it closely you can see fine there is a women front and center on it and there isn't necessarily anything explicitly degrading. But the vibe with all the splatter stuff, there's the idea of blood and then you get the triple X sensation, and the 666 somebody who is sort of thinking that way could conceivably perceive that way as being degrading even when in effect to your eye it isn't.

Toly: Maybe it's the Henry Miller in me…

Soda Pop Sideshow - 20" x 30"

Chris: And so then, why the amount of violence?

Toly: Cause violence is a part of everyday life and you can't turn a corner without seeing something violent; it's just apart of my life.

Chris: So is this a reaction to it? Is this just sort of a photojournalist type of concept? Saying this is what it is, I'm not trying to change it?

Toly: Yeah this is what it is, and it's a part of my life and I'm trying to just...in a sense it's like art therapy for me cause it calms me down when I paint, so I don't know. So that's actually from "Tomorrow's a Dragon" it's a 50's film, there's this section in the film where this girl recites a poem, so I just turned it around and put in a soda pop shop and said tomorrow is a dragon and girl was like yeah, and there was a guy that was trying to pick her up and she's like motioning with her fingers and and she was saying like he had a small dick...I don't know. it's not really that deep but at the same time...

Chris: It's as deep as you want it, if you wanted I could make it extremely deep. I could foam at the mouth and say through the use of the red splatters, which symbolize blood and the blood comes from here, and then because the guy is not actually completely filled in there is a certain ephemerality to him. Because the women is not only fully drawn in and is also smack dead center in the middle of the painting, there is much more significance to her. Then I go back and check out Greek mythology or something like that, and pull out some sort of Medusa, and foam and foam.

Toly: She is a powerful image and if you look a little closer she is at the bottom she is like smacking someone with the back of her hand and it says "zodiac" on the back of her right hand. So I don't understand why it is degrading.

Chris: Oh I'm not, I'm using that as an example. It's more of an overall sensation, given the violence, naked women. But on a less contentious issue; When reading some of the comments in the paintings, that you write, it gets somewhat confusing. Some of the comments actually confuse the viewer rather than clarifying what is going on in the painting, why do you do this?

Toly: I did that cause they're interesting; because it is a comic kind of stereotype of you know like a big Lichtenstein or something like that. I use words to draw the viewer in, to tell a story but I'm not really, so I try to encapsulate, I try to bring together a story within one frame.

Chris: However by using text that is confusing, you're saying that it is trying to engage the viewer

Toly: Yeah.

Chris: Have you contemplated the thought that the idea potentially by confusing the viewer you're actually putting up a barrier between them and yourself, between them and the painting?

Toly: That's possible.

Chris: Through the confusion you either get it or you don't. There's nothing you can hang your hat on. Although I'm certain that if you took all the ones that are absurdist in their use of text, and put them together, then there would be a much different effect on the viewer, than there is now by having them scattered through out the exhibition. Do you use that effect to engage the viewer? Or is this a tactic used in order to emphasize the chaos within paintings?

Toly: Yes.

Chris: Why would you want to emphasize the chaos as opposed to something else?

Toly: My worldview, I guess, the world is in chaos.

Chris: In most of your paintings you portray people as ugly and monster like…

Toly: I don't know. People put on masks, and those masks are sometimes violent and the real person between all those layers of hypocrisy and guilt and just all that bullshit that they've fed themselves since they were children and it just shines through and I just want to paint it.

Chris: You seem to use a lot of warm colors, pinks and purples and they are greatly contrasted by the dramatic violent images.

Toly: Yeah I was thinking "Ice cream" getting killed while eating ice cream.

Target Practice - 20" x 15"

Chris: Is this a conscious thing where you're saying okay this is a relatively violent painting therefore make it more gentile by using warm and fuzzy colors.

Toly: No it was an actual thought for the whole series, ice cream getting killed, somebody eating ice cream and getting killed while eating ice cream. Something that is supposed to cool you off on a summer's day and you get your brains blown out.

Chris: "Tiger's outcall" integrates mixed media, why did you choose those certain passages?

Toly: Those are passages from a script I wrote, it's more of a poster for a script I wrote. So it has something to do with the script that I wrote, it has to do with a guy who gets married into the mob, and he has a mistress, she's a crack whore and he's sort of a dealer so tiger outcalls, which is basically a prostitute. The reason why there is mixed media is because it is a mixed media film, that's the way that I'm seeing it any way.

Tiger's? Outcalls - 27" x 15"

Chris: What do you expect the audience to gain from viewing your art?

Toly: What do I expect them to gain? Some cool pieces of art work.

Chris: Any insight? any thoughts that you are trying to direct the viewer to, any certain ideas?

Toly: No it's just like, direct the viewer in terms of... no not at all, it wasn't even conscious.

Chris: So when you were painting you were just saying this is me, grab the brush and markers and that's it, I'm not contemplating anything beyond.

Toly: No I wasn't thinking about what people would think, I did the paintings for me, first thing and for most; cause I needed to do them, and if I could make a few people smile or sneer, then I'll do it.

Chris: You're getting a lot of reactions.

Toly: Cool, thanks

Chris: No problem, thank you very much.

Fun Stuff with Site Meters!


Yes, this happened almost two weeks ago, but I still think it is really cool that the Executive Office of the President (or in other words, some intern at the White House) is checking out my blog.

By the way, after checking out a fairly wide selection of counters (at least five) my new favorite is Stat Counter.

T'Cha Dunlevy talks to Sterling Downey Under Pressure


It looks like the big guy is back. I don't know if he is writing anything for the Gazette (as most of that newspaper is under lock and key) but the tall one writes 568 words in a preview of the "International Graffiti Convention" that took place behind Foufounes Electriques this past weekend.

One of the more interesting comments was Mr. Downey stating that "We've had plenty of years to sell out, but we chose not to." While I count 44 logos prominently displayed on the front page of the website to the event. And in answer to Mr. Dunlevy's questions on debate about "is graffiti art? Is tagging art? Is tagging graffiti? If it's a commissioned mural, is it graffiti? If it's in a gallery is it graffiti? If it's not illegal, is it graffiti?" And whether or not this is just flogging a dead horse. If he continues to write about it, then obviously it still breathing.

Zoë Tousignant on Bettina Hoffmann


Nothing like having a sister as editor, eh? The other Ms. Tousignant writes 284 words on the current exhibit at the Saidye Bronfman's Liane and Danny Taran Gallery (where the other Ms. Tousignant used to work). I would have preferred to see either Ms. Tousignant argue their point about the exhibition in a more forceful way. In Zoë's blurb, she states that "[t]he idea that we all play predetermined roles in society, by our own volition or more often due to peer pressure, is arguably the thread that unites these pieces."

Yet, the press release (my best guess is that it was written by Isa) states, "A depiction of innocence lost, Hoffmann’s children express a strange mix of youth and maturity, imitating and copying the world that surrounds them as they strike poses and take on roles that seem oddly adult-like and serious."

It looks to me like something got lost in the translation. How striking a pose for a photographer, which was perhaps suggested by the photographer, leads to predetermined roles in society, is not exactly clear to me.

Isa Tousignant on Joyce Yahouda's Store


Apologies for being MIA, but it was a nice weekend, and I was busy, too! On Thursday Ms. Tousignant pretty much took over Hour Magazine, a quick scan showed four articles having to do with Visual Art, wicked cool! It looks like her becoming Arts Editor is a very good thing. The first of the articles is a 665 word interview with the manager of Ms. Yahouda's Store, SB Edwards. The most (to me at least) telling line is "...just to make sure it basically stays about questioning value and art." I don't think pricing peach pits at $3,000 questions anything. The question I have is, is everything on consignment?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Susan Schwartz on Iwona Majdan


Ms. Schwartz gets an awful lot of space to report on Ms. Majdan's art project. She writes 1,259 words based around an interview with Ms. Majdan. It would be nice if they gave Henry Lehman the same amount of space.

Gary Michael Dault on Sylvie Readman and Richard Halliday


Mr. Dault writes 1,022 words on three artists, two who call Montreal home. Fairly benign, he cracks some jokes, uses some adjectives responsibly to describe some of the pieces, and generally carries himself well.

I'm not entirely certain if I get his allusion to socks with reference to the work of Mr. Halliday, but I'm certain that Mr. Dault succeeded in pissing somebody off with it.

Into the Empty: explorations recentes by Shelley Freeman - Review


Last week I was at Wilder and Davis, about which I have already written, and thankfully they have extended the exhibit that they have by Shelley Freeman until the end of the month or so. It's called Into the Empty: explorations recentes. Somebody should politely explain to Ms. Freeman that puns are only good in Marx Brothers' films.

Thankfully, her lack of talent in puns is inversely proportional to her ability to wield a paintbrush. Yes, all the paintings are about nooks, crannies, tunnels, caves and other dark places, but they are quite impressive, doubly so because of the setting.

One problem with exhibitions in "non-traditional" gallery spaces is being able to get reliable information, this is not a knock on Wilder and Davis, but more a reminder to me, that if I am going to write about other people's art, then I should take better notes, especially if I am going to do it a week after having seen the show. Which is a long winded way of saying I have no clue as to the titles of the paintings, sorry.

What you can't see in these photos is the thickness of the paint that Ms. Freeman uses. Not only are the pretty striking representations of said "nooks, crannies, tunnels, caves and other dark places," but if you get close enough you can actually stick your nose into them as well.

They work particularly well in Wilder and Davis because the building itself is full of "nooks, crannies, tunnels, caves and other dark places." I could riff off and discuss the significance of the relationship between the paintings and the space where they are hung, but I figure that y'all are sufficiently intelligent enough to figure it out for yourself. If you aren't then you really should be reading something else. If you haven't been to Wilder and Davis, yet, then I can understand your confusion.

Basically the place is a luthier (fine folk who fix fiddles) that is in an old, very old, graystone building. These first three pictures are all of paintings on the ground floor in the waiting area / reception room. They are all very fine paintings, quite pretty and nice, but the theme doesn't really hit you until you venture up the stairs, in the hallway next to the stairs is one painting (not pictured) where it starts to creep up on you, and by the time your on the second floor you’re slapping your forehead and saying to yourself "I get it!"

I was able to pick up a copy of the press release, which while it helped to jog certain bits of my memory didn't do much for my appreciation of the paintings.

Possessing threatening and enticing elements, these images of rock fissures, ice formations, caves, mines and tunnels generate dualistic impulses of uncertainty and excitement - risk and wonderment. The journey Freeman takes us on candidly reveals an ongoing cycle that challenges our perception and human experience to see far beyond the surface and discover other haunting profound elements.
Umm, not to belabor the obvious but I think it is a bit over the top. From my perspective, it seems to me that Ms. Freeman either wants to be a spelunker, or is a spelunker. And it is ok to be obsessed by small dark and damp spaces, just make sure that your batteries are fully charged and that you don't use breadcrumbs as a means to mark your route.

But, back to the paintings. My two favorites are the fourth one, the mine on a white-ish background, and the first one (the greenish yellow one). Both of them have a focal point that is off center, which is always the case in Ms. Freeman's paintings, but with these two, she is slightly closer to the center of the canvas. I would have to go back to Wilder and Davis and measure every last painting in order to figure out if these two are the only ones that are "slightly" off-center but you can see in the tunnel and the ice that your eye is drawn to almost at the edge of the canvas. Other than that, I can't really find any other similarities between the two of them or any differences from the others that would explain why they rock.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The article that le Devoir didn't want you to read


On Saturday Le Devoir published an article in the paper edition that wasn't liberated for the online edition. Thankfully, it was a reprint from Liberation, and is available for anybody and everybody at their website. 638 words that go into fun gossipy stuff about the litigation that Guy Cogeval is currently going through.

The highlight:
"They are not historians of art. They could not draw a synthesis from their documentation and missed minimal general culture to know this period. Their notes are enamelled errors." Or the original «Ils ne sont pas historiens de l'art. Ils n'ont pu tirer une synthèse de leur documentation et manquaient de la culture générale minimale pour connaître cette période. Leurs notes sont émaillées d'erreurs.»
Basically, it looks to me like Annette Leduc and Brooks Beaulieu are trying to extort 1 million euros, and M. Cogeval is not taking it lying down. Good on him.

Isa Tousignant on Jean-Pierre Aubé and Juan Geuer


I think this is the last review from last week, so I can now officially consider myself "caught up." Ms. Tousignant finally gets some space, I don't know if she had to wrestle for it, or if it is going to last, but it is 664 words about art. I hope that this week she is able to break the 750 word barrier.

She trucked all the way down to Old Montreal to check on the latest and greatest at the Darling Foundry, and she came away with some kick-ass stuff. Lines like "...making art practically as an afterthought to the love he has for the rational world's immaculate precision." And "There is an intensity, ...that overwhelmed me with the sense that I should coming away with more, that I should be reading the secrets of life in these pieces." Props all around.

Nicolas Mavrikakis on Artefact "en galerie"


I'm late, he was late, we're all late. Last Thursday (the 5th) M. Mavrikakis wote 447 words on the show that was up at Art Mûr until the 7th. Yet another reason why reviews in this town are very good for CV's and not so good for anything else. Back in June, he wrote 287 words on Artefact 2004 which is taking place on the mountain as we speak. He was able to only mention five of the thirteen artists participating obviously due to space constarints. This time he's got more space, but only manages to talk about two of the six participants in the exhibition. For what it is worth, Martin Boisseau got his name in print twice. Hmmm, what does it all mean?

Basically, Art Mûr got some of the artists participating in Artefact to do an exhibit indoors. The stuff was kick-ass. It would have been nice if he had used more words and at least attempted to describe more. Hey, maybe some analysis, too!

His name dropping this time involves what I read as sucking up. Almost 1/4 of his article is devoted to an explanation of and a list of the artists exhibiting upstairs at Art Mûr. Why else would he need to mention David Elliott and Leopold Plotek? He says "J'ai plus particulièrement apprécié..." (or in blokespeak; I really liked...). I don't understand why he needs to prop things up by writing that the artists were chosen by Mr.'s Elliott and Plotek.

Isa Tousignant on "The Moves"


Ms. Tousignant gets in the swing of things by talking to Aneessa Hashmi about the upcoming move by La Centrale. 380 words to say that the new digs are smaller. Personally the thing that I like best (as I've said before) is that I'm getting neighbors.

Monday, August 09, 2004

I'm late to the party


I don't know how I came across this, but I did, just way too late after the fact. First there was the article about some art being stolen from Concordia University. Then there was the letter. It appears that some good has come about because of a bad situation.

Julia Dault does Alexandre Castonguay


Or maybe the headline should read "Alex does Julia," or maybe I should quote Public Enemy and say "Don't believe the hype." Ms. Dault fawns all over M. Castonguay's work for 380 words. Apparently Pierre-Francois Ouellette is a really good talker, too. The line that got me choking was this one:

"With astounding technological agility, Castonguay has arranged for both screens to simultaneously project the image captured by the Brownie in real time."
Umm, could somebody please suggest to Ms. Dault that she add slashdot to her reading list? Please?! Or at least give her a a gift certificate for some O'Reilly books. If she really wanted to have fun then she should check out casadopinhole, now they really have some kick-ass cameras.

Cool News


Yet another reason to read non-standard news sources. The Courrier Ahuntsic had an article about the call for submissions that is going to happen for the new Henri-Bourassa metro station currently being built. They spend 617 words describing the details about the $80K that is going to be spent on art. Apparently Marie Perreault (the woman in charge of cultural stuff for the Agence Metropolitan de Transport) has her heart set on a "luminous mural." She says that details will be released on August 22nd. As for the metro stations in Laval, they don't seem to be as organized, they aren't going to do their call for submissions until 2005.

The Le Devoir Article

Le Devoir.com
Recyclage culturel

Bernard Lamarche
Édition du samedi 23 et du dimanche 24 juillet 2005

Titre VO : Trashformations

Description : Oeuvres de Michel de Broin, Jérôme Fortin, Karilee Fuglem et Louis Joncas. Pierre-François Ouellet Art contemporain, 372, rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, espace 216. Jusqu'au 13 août

Faudrait-il toujours que la culture, l'été, se présente sous le mode de la légèreté? Il y a certes des expositions d'été comme il y a des lectures plus légères pour la saison chaude, mais certains tentent de donner un vernis de sérieux à leurs présentations estivales, question de nourrir l'esprit au même titre que les sens. C'est ce que réalise la galerie Pierre-François Ouellet Art contemporain en présentant Trashformations, qui n'a toutefois de «trash» que le nom. Dans cette exposition de groupe qui aurait mérité un ultime resserrement, les déchets sont le matériau de base.

N'ayez crainte, il n'y a rien dans cette exposition pour provoquer la nausée. Cette vitrine a comme raison d'être, d'abord et avant tout, de mettre en commun les productions de quatre des artistes les plus en vue de l'écurie de la galerie. Louis Joncas et Michel de Broin viennent tout juste de participer à la Manif d'art III à Québec. D'ailleurs, les oeuvres actuellement en galerie avaient été présentées à Québec au printemps dernier. De Broin attend son exposition solo, l'an prochain, au Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, alors que Fortin se retrouve au MACM actuellement. La carrière de Fuglem va également bon train et l'artiste vient, tout comme De Broin, d'avoir son solo à la galerie.

Voilà pour les présentations. Les déchets sont le principal matériau de cette exposition, donc, qui mêle, sans les approfondir outre mesure, des considérations sociales, écologiques et surtout esthétiques. De fait, la plupart des oeuvres de l'exposition partent des rejets de la société de la consommation pour arriver à des oeuvres plutôt léchées.

Un dépotoir recyclé

À l'entrée de ce dépotoir recyclé au nom de l'art se trouvent les images de Louis Joncas, de la série Détritus. Nous avons toujours été plus ou moins insensible au travail de Joncas en raison de son caractère trop ouvertement séducteur et propret, avec sa prétention à aller par-delà la surface des apparences, ce à quoi nous doutons qu'il parvienne. Cette nouvelle série, pour la première fois exposée à Montréal, ne fera pas pour nous exception. Sa manière gentille de transformer un abject bien relatif en des objets proches de la grande tradition de la nature morte nous laisse de glace, tant elle ne nous apprend que peu de choses sur la nature morte et pas beaucoup plus sur nos habitudes de consommation.

Au mur, dans la même salle de la galerie, Jérôme Fortin présente trois Marines de grand format qui avaient été montrées à l'ARCO en février dernier. Fortin, selon la manière arachnéenne qu'on lui connaît désormais, a utilisé des bouteilles de plastique qu'il a découpées pour les étirer ensuite sur un plan, confectionnant des tondi dans lesquels les rubans de plastique obtenus ondulent de façon à former des vagues. Ici, le pouvoir de transformation fonctionne avec le plus bel impact. C'est là la force des oeuvres de Fortin, surtout lorsqu'il ne s'acharne pas à créer des petits objets dont la nature décorative l'emporte trop souvent, au détriment d'une force d'impact plus importante.

Plus loin, Michel de Broin présente la vidéo Réparations - Une participation volontaire à la propreté de la ville de Paris (2004). De Broin a fait documenter une action réalisée dans les rues de Paris, qui consistait à s'emparer de bouteilles de boisson gazeuse vides trouvées au hasard d'une promenade dans Paris pour les fixer à un petit appareil balistique de son cru, construit à partir d'une pompe à air. Les bouteilles sont ainsi transformées en fusées, lancées tantôt d'un terrain vague, tantôt d'une place bien fréquentée par des passants, pour le moins surpris de voir s'élever soudainement ce projectile. Si le montage nous avait permis d'en apprendre plus sur la réaction des gens face à cette intrusion, la pièce aurait été plus complète, nous semble-t-il (mais alors, elle aurait davantage cédé aux codes du documentaire). Les images s'attardent essentiellement à l'action, plutôt qu'à ses effets.

Jouer des atouts

Finalement, les images photographiques de Karilee Fuglem charment en raison de leur manière de jouer des atouts de la photographie, notamment de la profondeur de champ et de la précision focale. Fuglem est connue pour transformer de petits riens vaporeux en visions poétiques. Ici, des petites mousses de poussière lui servent de modèle. Dans la série More Fluff, l'artiste continue de cultiver l'insolite. Cependant, en présentant son oeuvre dans le même espace que cette autre image, de Louis Joncas cette fois, où le photographe a capté un amas de charpie de sécheuse qui prend une allure organique, il se crée un drôle de contraste, dans la mesure où s'opposent la manière froide de Joncas et celle, plus subjuguante, de Fuglem. Pas le meilleur rapprochement qu'il nous ait été donné de voir.

Le Devoir

Friday, August 06, 2004

Michel Hellman gets interviewed


Michel Hellman is one of two Visual Art Critics for Le Devoir. Most newspapers don't even have one on staff - I think this reflects very favorably on Le Devoir, unfortunately they don't subscribe to the idea that articles about Visual Art should be available to everybody, so being able to read everything that M. Hellman writes for them while on line is sketchy at best.

I first met him when he walked into the gallery to introduce himself, I had just written a response to his review of the Dominique Blain exhibit at the Musee d'Art Contemporain, I gave him a copy and we were off to the races. Last week I asked him if I could interview him for the blog, and he graciously said "yes."

Chris: How did you end up being the art critic for Le Devoir?

Michel: Luck, persistence, Bernard Lamarche was looking for someone to replace him while he was curating his show in Quebec City. He was interviewing my brother, who is musician, and they ended up talking about that and my brother mentioned that I was doing a masters in art history in Canadian art and that I knew about the Montreal art scene so Bernard asked me to send in my CV and some sample articles which I did. I ended up calling them to see if they had read my articles and finally they decided to take me on a trial basis and hired me for 6 months.

Chris: How long was the try out period?

Michel: It was one article; they accepted it and I took the position full time for 6 months.

Chris: Do you know if there were other people involved in the process?

Michel: I didn't ask, but I think there were, yeah cause it took a long time between when I heard about the opening and actually getting a response.

Chris: From what you expected to now, how do you see it?

Michel: it's a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Chris: How so?

Michel: Well you know it is one thing to look at shows while being interested in art and just going browsing through the galleries and another thing actually having to find enough material to write a coherent article in a certain amount of words.

Chris: What sort of material do you find difficult to get?

Michel: Just knowing what the artist is trying to say, while at the same time trying to make it interesting for whoever is reading the paper.

Chris: Do you have this specific idea in your mind of a generic Le Devoir reader?

Michel: At first they told me I should try to be a little more specialized. Because I thought writing in Le Devoir was going to reach people who were somewhat interested in art in a general way, and an article doesn't have that much time to really go into details. So I tried to write things like "what's interesting to see on the weekend," and my editors said that I should be more critical. Because the readers of Le Devoir are people who really have a passion for Art and they go to see exhibitions as well as reading someone really dissecting the show. So I now try to do both. I think that it's better to see an exhibition than to just write about it. To answer a question that you didn't ask, I was initially disappointed because I thought that there was a lot of bullshit in the art world and felt sometimes that I was having to write an article just to fill space. And I really hated just filling space. It wasn't terrible but it just wasn't that interesting.

Chris: How much of the stuff you write is what you want to write about versus what you are directed towards writing?

Michel: I have a lot of freedom at Le Devoir, which is good. Most of the time I choose what I want to write about. Where it gets difficult is on the weeks when there is just nothing that inspiring to write about. Some writers really like engaging themselves in young emerging artists and the "art scene", I like doing research and writing about things that are more organized… that's why I like writing about the museum exhibitions.

Chris: Do you ever bank shows and say this is an exhibition that I will save for the week that there is nothing happening or is it always one is written then on to the next one?

Michel: No. But, that's the way it should be.

Chris: What is it then specifically with a generic exhibition that would make it easier for you to review, assuming the quality of the art is up to par?

Michel: A theme. I told you I like figurative art. I like cartoon art. But, if there was some kind of theme behind it then it would give me a way to approach it, an easier way. Because if I was write a review about this exhibit that you have up here I would write about the artist, biographical things, but there's only so much that you can write about when the artist doesn't have a history. Three pages is pretty long for an article. If it were a show with a theme about people using cartoons, or something like that, then it would be a lot easier to write an article about it.

Chris: Okay, then working on that line, what are the things that would make it almost impossible for you to write a review? Assuming the art is good.

Michel: Abstract art, it could be good art, an artist can be completely sincere about doing it, but if they are just putting abstract paintings that aren't really related in some way in a gallery, then what do you write about? Oh this is nice, but why? And it's all very subjective.

Chris: I find that interesting, given that most of the big names in Quebecois art are abstract painters.

Michel: Yeah but they all go in a historical framework. Now everything's so fragmented.

Chris: I'm not certain I agree. To me, it is the difference between having a historical perspective, and not having that perspective. Back in the 70's, back in the 60's, back in the 50's I have a sense that it was just as fragmented and as diverse as it is now. It's just that whatever sort of rises to the top through history, whatever survives...

Michel: But the artists then were making a statement in the 70's by doing abstraction. Now it's more of a question of why are they doing abstract art? Is it because that is the easiest way for the artist to express themselves? If so, that's not really much of a statement. Take the last abstract show we saw together, at UQAM; by putting 3 abstract artists together, it became interesting because of the dialogue between things, if it had been just one artist, that would have been really hard to write about unless it had been Francoise Sullivan, because she is such a major influence and has such a tremendous history.

Chris: To me, art exhibitions are taking what you can get out of them. It's the job of the gallery or the curator, to say to the reviewer "okay, you want a thematically unified set of work?" Give me 5 minutes and I can link these paintings here in a very linear fashion.

Michel: Yeah but it has to be coherent. I've read a lot of artist's statements...

Chris: But it's not the artist statement that is linking the paintings in an exhibition. It's me as a curator coming in and imposing some coherence, or unity. The thing with the show at UQAM - you're saying that you saw a dialogue between different works. I'm seeing the same thing as an imposed debate that Louise Dery scripted. She said "this is what I want the paintings to say." You're seeing a dialogue and I'm seeing a script.

Michel: But that's the thing that is supposed to be criticized, how is she putting these works in a dialogue and do I agree with that or not, and I didn't totally agree with her. How she put them together, but I thought that it was pretty interesting the artists that she put together. I'm not talking about what I like, I'm talking about what's... Art Mur, for example, they show young artists with more established artists; they group them as a themed show. Many artists often disagree with how they organize them, but it's very interesting.

Chris: But what about Eaux vives? They set it up like it was a theme show, and I'm certain that there is stuff in there that works within that context. But with a theme you end up saying "no, this one has sand so it shouldn't be in the exhibit." But the curator can come back and say "yeah, sand is on the beach, the beach has an ocean, therefore you get the water and then you get..." I find that very interesting that with Visual Art is assumed that there needs to be some person filtering beforehand.

Michel: Well that's your view. In your gallery, you leave a lot more freedom for the artist, which is good. It makes it an interesting gallery to visit, but I think that it's one of the reasons why you don't get reviews, not because people think its bad art, but because it's not really organized in a way to make the art approachable for reviewers.

Chris: Well, there definitely is no filter. You're coming in, my basic take is that I want the art here to be as immediate as a hit song on the radio.

Michel: Well your position is important, because you're giving a loud voice to these artists who would otherwise have to go through a very annoying call for submissions from all of these other galleries which often makes it impossible for them to get their art seen. Here they have as much space to express themselves, as they should. Getting back to Le Devoir, because it is a newspaper I know a lot of people are going to read what I write. It's not like writing for Parachute or something. Take the Roberto Dutesco article I wrote, I'm like, fine it's not Durer, but I can see why it's interesting, it's on McGill College, people are going to see it, that deserves to be written about, too.

Chris: You're doing your masters, what you're doing your thesis on?

Michel: Identity and politics in 1970's Quebec art, in the setting.

Chris: How much is done, how much longer do you thing it's going to take?

Michel: Another semester. An interesting thesis was written by Louise Vigneault on identity and politics in Quebec art in the 60's, 50's. She was writing about Le refus global, I'm just going to go over that and talk about what was happening in the 70's with conceptual art, video art, feminism, stuff like that, fragmentation.

Chris: How did you end up choosing that?

Michel: Oh it's related to how I feel about Quebec society. I'm Quebecois, but my father is American and my mother is from France and I feel totally Quebecois yet I don't have roots as a Pur Laine so there this question of identity ...and also I like doing art myself, a lot of my art is based on the question of landscape and identity.

Chris: And you chose the 70's because...

Michel: Everything culturally was moving, there were new technologies. Canada as a whole was developing a sense of self-affirmation, not just in Quebec. The Quebec separatist movement was growing, but in Canada a lot of the artists were also being very nationalistic in their works, fighting against the American influence... so on both sides there is a subject... nowadays people don't really talk about it. Artists today... and people today, art is still important but the political side isn't that obvious anymore.

Chris: But if you think in terms of the non-institutionalized art. Go to cafes and bars and you'll still see political art that is nationalistic and overtly so. The public tone of nationalism has changed greatly over the past 15 - 20 years and it makes sense that the institutions would follow the public perception of nationalism.

Michel: It's also the question of whether a nation should have a specific art or does that concept come from places like the Canada Council? The Conseil des Arts et Lettres du Québec? What they were subsidizing in the 70's, what they were trying to get as an image, and what the artists themselves wanted to say and where the people like me actually fit in.

Chris: In my mind it's both the Conseil des Arts et Lettres du Québec and the Canada Council. They have a good idea, but I don't think that they don't have enough of a vision right now, to do significant stuff and also, given how long they have been in existence, my asking them to have a vision might be completely and utterly out of line.

Michel: Well they did a lot of good stuff.

Chris: Yes I agree with you, but it is still a situation where they are funding specific projects as opposed to having a longer-term vision. Sort of like when viewing things as an adolescent you are focusing on the here and now, and when you're older you can take a step back and say how is this going to affect me in the future? It's the same thing with Canada Council and Conseil des Arts et Lettres du Québec, they think let's fund artists, instead of having a specific idea of how to put Canadian art, Quebec art or - with the city - Montreal art on the map. To me that would be a much better thing to do now, the artists they fund are somewhat established now, and to take it to the next step would be extremely helpful.

Michel: Do you disagree with the subsidization of something like ATSA show on here on Blvd. St Laurent?

Chris: Yes, because of the way that they subsidized ATSA, and what the result was.

Michel: It's not bad but... I think Roadsworth is better.

Chris: In theory I like the idea, knowing what ATSA did with "Murs du feu" and then seeing how FRAG ended up, basically a bunch of posters, it misses something. There are certain posters that are better; the one on Pine Ave. where they have three pictures that were taken in the same exact place 50 years apart.

Michel: They should have done just that. That would have been interesting.

Chris: But you have to consider the historical aspect, If the pictures don't exist, how are you going to do that?

Michel: But there was that big show about Blvd. Saint Laurent at Pointe-a-Calliere.

Chris: FRAG is designed for tourists and if ATSA were to come up with pamphlets for walking tours, you could look at the posters and because they are in front of businesses, the tourists would then go into the businesses, they then buy something there, everybody goes home happy.

Michel: It's easy to criticize everything too, these are people who are doing something for the city.

Chris: Moving on. Since you've been an art critic, what's the best show you've seen?

Michel: That's a hard question, I really liked the one that was on at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery this past spring. It was an exhibition on Jack Beder, I had never heard about him before. Montreal in the 30's and that was really interesting cause it was historical and it made me discover something. I guess I like historical stuff. With regards to newer art… let me think it over.

Chris: What was the best show you haven't reviewed?

Michel: The best show that I didn't review, was in 2002 at UQAM, daprèsledépeupleur/afterthelostones. Artists responding to Samuel Beckett. Guy Pellerin, Jana Sterbak, Smith/Stewart and David Tomas. They responded in different ways, it was very elegant and all the works were very interesting. I was talking to Bernard Lamarche about it and he remembered it as well, so yeah, I'm addicted to themes. It was an interesting theme, which was smart at the same time. I don't like themes that are too simplistic, like sculptures by women, it could be interesting historically but more likely, you just go see the show and nothing comes out of it. daprèsledépeupleur/afterthelostones made you think a little bit and read a little bit, it was very well done. I like the UQAM gallery, they often have good stuff. I think the big disappointment is all the shows I saw at the Musee d'Art Contemporain since I've been a critic. I think that they have all been pretty bad. Even their permanent collection, they were showing their collection of Montreal artists and the Musee des Beaux Arts, has a lot better collection and most of the shows I've seen at the Musee des Beaux Arts were very good, I think Stephan Aquin does a really good job as curator of contemporary art. Have you seen their permanent exhibit? The new collection of contemporary art they have? It's a really good collection of stuff. The worst show, by far was XXXXX XXXXXXX.

Chris: Since you brought it up, what makes it the worst show that you've seen?

Michel: I thought that it was so simplistic, I was still trying to find my style, and I was still a little shy. But I should have realized that the position that I have is to really, without being mean, because aesthetically they were very appealing pieces which probably makes a difference too. I thought it was really bad art, terrible art, too simplistic. I thought the pieces were good design, a designer knows how to make things appealing for the eye, but this was just simplistic and pretentious.

Chris: How would you assign blame? Would you say that the museum screwed up by choosing to do that show? That the curators screwed up by choosing the wrong pieces? That XXXXX XXXXXXX screwed up by for being too design oriented?

Michel: I don't think that XXXXX XXXXXXX has a place in a museum, wherever else they can find it is fine, I mean the public liked it, maybe their place is there. I just think that the Musee d'Art Contemporain should have some sort of standard that they should respect; they should pay more attention to what is being done elsewhere in the contemporary art world and kind of follow that. But don't write this in your blog, I don't want anyone to... There is no need for anybody to get hurt.

Chris: I'll edit it and then I'll email you before it gets posted. It is a sort of thing, that from my perspective, - ignoring that it is a specific exhibit done by individuals - and trying to analyze why was it so bad? What can be done better the next time? Is it the curator? The museum? If I were to answer, I would say that it is the museum's lack of vision.

Michel: I think that it is subjective, the question is very subjective so there's no real answer to that, I didn't like the art that was shown, personally.

Chris: You're subjective, I'm not asking you for objectivity.

Michel: I don't think that in my job that I should be as subjective as a film critic though.

Chris: How can you be objective?

Michel: You put it in a perspective of how it can be interesting to other people, and make it interesting to someone who doesn't have the time to get there.

Chris: Yeah but there are going to be some people who like Celine Dion, and they probably like Les Bougons, at which point you're going to be writing about stuff that is so completely not related to any of them that to try and dumb it down is just not going to work. To try and raise their appreciation up is not likely to work either, it's like the blog, I write for myself and just say "okay this is it, if you like what I write then great, if you don't, no one is holding a gun to your head to read it."

Michel: Yeah that's true.

Chris: I'm not going to write for Joe Public cause I recognize that Joe Public doesn't give a shit about that.

Michel: I don't want to have the pretension, because I'm an art critic, of deciding what is good and what is bad.

Chris: I think by the very nature of the job title, it is imposed upon you, which is why I would love to see more slams in the paper. It is the sort of thing where you can't say anything bad. I have to read between the lines. Who isn't getting reviewed? And then assume that that exhibit isn't any good. But then I take a step back and realize that there is way too much art being exhibited here in Montréal to review. I'd love to see significant exhibitions being called bad, when they are. Anybody who truly believes in their art could use it as an opportunity to sit down and discuss with the writer what sucks and why? Then either the writer understands the reason for creating the art. Or conversely if the artist was sincerely open to criticism the artist could say "Yes, those are valid points that I hadn't thought about previously." But back to business. Logistically, how do you set up your work week?

Michel: I usually go and see the shows Friday and Saturday. Decide what I'm going to write about and start my writing. Do my research, which takes about a day, and then I write for about a day or two.

Chris: So you send it off the following Tuesday, Wednesday?

Michel: Exactly and then I go through the mail and start the whole thing over again.

Chris: Are there any questions you want me to ask?

Michel: No but I was thinking about the best show, the one at UQAM, that was an interesting show. But the best show? What surprises me is everything coming out of Rene Blouin, it's not too original, but he is the most professional gallery owner in town and he has a really good eye. I've rarely been disappointed from what I've seen at his place. And also the Joyce Yahouda Gallery, she really shows artists in an interesting way. Those two galleries are the best.

Chris: I like Articule and Circa, as far as the artist run centers, they are the two that I think stand out the most, unfortunately I don't get out to Clark that often enough.

Michel: Dazibao and the other galleries at 4001 Berri do interesting shows, Point and Shoot was disappointing, but the idea behind it is very good.

Chris: What are your goals for the future?

Michel: I want to try to do art myself. That's one of the goals I don't want to be a full time art critic, well maybe, we'll see what happens, but I like keeping it part time and keeping my options open.

Chris: So you prefer to be an artist as opposed to…

Michel: Artist, Art illustrator, I like working with my hands, not just writing about other people.

Chris: I think that we can wrap this up, thank you very much for your time, it was both enlightening and enjoyable.

Michel: You're welcome.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Shameless self-promoting


One reason I went back to the suburban papers, is that last week they had a very nice article, and a kick-ass picture about an event that was held here. 556 words on Christine Douville and the launch of Flash de Mai. It was published in time for the launch of Pouèt-cafëe nº 8, Été 2004 and everybody (well, almost everybody) in attendance had a splendid time.

Catching up with the banlieues


Over at the Nouvelles de l'Est, the reprinted a press release about the city of Montreal and the Province of Quebec forking over $30,000 to six different organizations dedicated to helping amateur artists. 201 words and all they do is mention one of the organizations. I have two questions, a) how about a little more than $5,000 per org? And b) if the «Hip-Hop connexion» of the Café graffiti–Journal de la rue, got $5K for ten murals, then they obvioulsy have to work on their grant writing skills a little bit.

Over at the Journal de Rosemont, they do pretty much the same thing in 147 words with the focus this time on «Génération’Art» d’Accès-Cible Jeunesse Rosemont. My comments still apply.

Franklin Einspruch flips out!


I have no desire to go to Capetown, especially now that Mr. Einspruch put my feelings into words.

More cool bafflegab this time from tony tremblay


Sometimes I wish I had taken more drugs as a kid. M. Tremblay has a wonderful entry in his poetry blog, which just makes my head spin off into about a gazillion different directions all at once. If you are of the heathen nature and can't do it because it is in French, try this computer translation on for size instead:

Reality is repeated unceasingly, since reality is not or it is, in perception only. with the instar of Giacometti which always affirmed impossibility of reproducing reality, I concluded from it that this impossibility is "universal".

I want to say, even in "reality" one could not thus reproduce it, does reality really exist? does one really exist?
I figure this is what can happen if you stay up late.

J. Kelly Nestruck during his free time


I'd be remiss if I didn't make you at least contemplate clicking over to Mr. Nestruck's blog, On the Fence, where you can read exactly what he thinks aobut the Clown show currently on at the National Gallery. Worth the price of admission if only for his use of the word "bafflegab."

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Jérôme Delgado reports from Trois-Rivières


It seems like art is springing up everywhere in the countryside. As he mentions in his lead paragraph, Jerome Delgado moves from Shawinigan to Trois-Rivières. He writes a 769 word article about the Biennale nationale de sculpture contemporaine that is happening there. It passes more as a head's up, than a review, which is probably a good thing, because it is taking place in Trois Rivieres.

M. Delgado talks to Josée Wingen and Gaston St-Pierre about the background of the event. Although I think I might have used a pheonix metaphor, his prose is good. The "biennale" has fifteen artists, and he mentions six of them, and the piece by Germaine Koh and Lynda Baril even gets two sentences, each! Although with the piece by Ms. Baril he somehow missed the rocking chairs.

Germaine Koh - Fair-Weather forces : wind speed, Found metal swivel, with an engine, electronic circuits, and an anemometer, 93 x 105 cm.

Lynda Baril - Matière à bouger, apples, dental floss, 2 rocking chairs.

Kick-Ass Post Alert, two!


It must be something in the water... Todd Gibson has Five Simple Rules for Talking about Art. Again, highly recommended. Maybe I'm going to have to try and figure out where that well is.

Kick-Ass Post Alert


Washington, DC Art News has a wonderful post by Malik Lloyd talking all about creating value in art.Click here to read it.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Denis Saint-Pierre makes it on TV!


The News Channel has a report on the aforementioned M. Saint-Pierre. Which gets translated on the web into 140 words on the web about him getting a piece in a sculpture park in China. They don't mention where in China it is, nor do they give a name to the park. Pity.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Radio-Canada on Artefact 2004


Speaking of Visual Art, and sculpture on TV, Radio Canada gets into the act. Pretty much a straight report, I don't know how to embed the TV thing-y, so you're going to have to click on the link, hope that your Windows Media player works like it is suppossed to if you want to watch.

Click here, ok.

Nicolas Mavrikakis on Rober Racine


It appears that Voir is shrinking the space that they give to Visual Arts. I don't know if this is due to lack of ads, or lack of power on M. Mavrikakis' part or something else, but this is the second week in a row where it hasn't even made 500 words. In fact this week's review clocks in at a cool 408 words. There is no name dropping this week (phew!) But M. Mavrikakis can't help referring to a previous exhibit by M. Racine (in 2002) like it was yesterday.

Les 87 dessins de vautours, installés pour former le motif d'un oiseau aux ailes déployées, ont été mieux sélectionnés et bien mieux présentés que la dernière fois, en 2002, lorsque Racine dévoilait pour la première fois sa démarche de dessinateur.

[the computer translates] The 87 drawings of vultures, installed to form the reason for a bird to the spread wings, were selected better and presented well better than the last time, in 2002, when Racine revealed for the first time its step of draughtsman.
M. Mavrikakis ends up filling what little space he is alotted by mentioning the upcoming moves by the various galleries now in 460 Sainte Catherine West, and promoting the "new" SDMM website.