Small Works, the exhibition currently in Fleurbain, has had an effect on me. I spend a few hours each day in the presence of this collection of artworks. There are works by twelve artists (or artistic teams) to enjoy, and it is all food for thought. I like to compare and contrast the different approaches to art-making, media, and what I imagine the individual artist’s inspiration might be. I take all this in, and then process what the works have to say to me, the viewer.
I would like to share a little about each of the artists’ works with you here. Before I begin, I would like to thank each artist for submitting their work to be in this show. I had sent out a call-for-entry a while back, and was fortunate to receive some top-notch submissions. There are forty paintings, prints, photographs, and mixed-media pieces to explore by Montreal’s established and emerging artists.
Carole Arbic‘s pieces in the show are a joy, a description of painting and layers. The colours are bright, but there is subtlety in the combination of them. Two of the Garden Party series feature little pieces of broken mirror, so that the viewer is reflected back to themselves within the piece. This reflects something about art in general; that the understanding of art is dependant upon context and who is looking, perhaps even more than who made it and what their intentions were. In looking at Arbic’s five pieces, it is difficult to not choose a “favorite”, based on colour or painterliness or any other number of influences.
Lorraine Miller Emmrys has included three pieces in the exhibition. One of the pieces is “larger” but is composed of smaller pieces. Apple – (Falling Into Feminine) is a story. It describes a timeline of youth, change, decay, rebirth: the cycle of life. There is a glimpse into the artist’s ruminations about femininity, about life itself. How do we inhabit our apple, our body, our knowledge? How does that change with time?
Darlene St Georges has created intricate floral botanical paintings that speak of a zen-like observation. To paint in this manner is to leave one’s self and go to another place, and the experience for the viewer can be something of a similar experience. If you allow the painting talk to you, this will happen. Bee Palm is a striking and captivating piece; you want to stay with this flower, and live like a bee.
Natasha Henderson is me. Now, to talk about pigeons. The pigeon is an amazing, tough, and somewhat endearing little city-bird. I like them, so I opted to paint some. The Pigeon series is my recollection of pigeons, be they singular or seen within a group. In appearance, I love their differences in markings, their subtle colours. In personality, I like their work ethic and how they simultaneously have a sort of laissez-faire attitude.
Francoise Issaly‘s work is beautiful. Again, I feel transported by the zen-like practice and appreciation of painting. In Structure Cigale (Small I), I feel as though I am glimpsing into the heart of a jewel. It is something of a treasure, a feeling of a branch, of something poetic. I have many readings of this painting, and it is the sort of piece to have a good conversation over.
Thaneah Krohn is sharing a selection of funky, familiar, and sometimes mysterious photographs of Montreal. All five pieces evoke the spirit here. During the vernissage I overheard: “That’s my Montreal!” I would have to agree. For those of us who love this place, we just can’t get enough. Candy Lace is a delicious photo of that gingerbread-styled woodworking you see decorating the old mansions and apartments around town. Often painted bright, happy and beautiful colours they are like candy and bring joy to the day-to-day life of Montrealers. This photo allows us to glance at this joy whenever we feel like…
David Merk is sharing some from his Coprolithe series. These marble pieces are fascinating, and thought-provoking. Detritus of contemporary street-stuff find their way into the permanence of marble. Like any archeological finding, the things from the street reveal a bit about our society. A Tim Horton’s lid, discarded work-gloves, and a Second Cup cup are all some of the things used during a typical work-day: objects used and discarded. Art can lift vision and ideas from daily existence, and art resembles and reassembles life. We are reminded of this in Merk’s works.
Kimberley Mok has included terrific illustration-style prints of her drawings. The three pieces depict aspects of this city by a quirky, observant mind. Again, people are drawn to these pieces and ask each other “which is your favourite? And why?” I have my personal one… though all three pieces are appealing. The simultaneity of ideas found in Carpet Moebiusis what I keep coming back to… Carpets, prints, butterflies and Escher… neighbourhoods and rejuvenation. Rebirth and recycling. Very smart.
Michel Pedneault has paintings that just keep saying new things to me. Interesting in the best of painterly-ways, they are done in an expressionistic manner. I feel a sense of empathy for the subjects of the works, be they human or landscape-based. Alpe is loose, with lively yet soft colours and brushwork. A solid and seemingly effortless composition is practically perfect in a classical sense. As with all painting, this (and Pedneault’s other pieces) are so much better to experience in real life…
Sarina Rahman has included two mixed-media pieces that utilise fabric remnants. The shapes created by the fabric evoke ideas about foliage and natural forms. They are abstract, however, so that the viewer can respond with their own story to the remnants and indications presented by Rahman. There is an examination of the tactility of materials here, and it is difficult to Not Touch The Artworks…
Patrycja Walton has shared some very lovely abstract paintings with us. The Falling Petals series uses unusual yet harmonious colours in a mix of a sort of white background/base. The petals that fall are chunks of colours, the background is the white. However… like so much in painting, the background isn’t really a background. The negative space is on a level with the “objects”. There is paint, there is an idea of depiction… and again, if you allow yourself, you can be transported to another place.
Julie Webb + Meredith Hayes have shared two pieces, and both are captivating as portraits of place. One is Montreal, the other is New Zealand. As Webb is a native of New Zealand, now living in Montreal, this makes sense. Both places feel like “Home”, and this love of both places comes through in the work. The format of presentation is appealing both as a structure (the photographs are cleverly mounted on varying layers of reclaimed MDF board) and as a composition of units. Viewers of the Montreal piece have commented to me about the familiarity of the individual shots, and yet the formal composition speaks of something larger. The greenery of the New Zealand piece is very calming, yet full of life. As I spend more time with these works, new aspects keep coming forward to me.
I am in a place of privilege, allowed to see this exhibition on a daily basis. You can come and see it any of the following times:
Tuesday December 20 to Friday January 6, 3pm-6pm each day. Closed Mondays and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Finissage January 7th, 12pm to 6pm
Another option is to check out the online gallery. It isn’t as good as the live-version of the gallery… but you can visit (and re-visit) any time you like.
See us at 460 St Catherine West, Unit #917. Located to the left of Future Shop on St Catherine Street close to both McGill and Place des Arts metros.
Natasha Henderson, Montreal