I was initially lured into this exhibition by a pencil on paper drawing that bore an organic title and appearance. Fungus no. 2, upon further examination, proved to be composed of a repeated and overlapped Mickey Mouse motif. Eric Cardinal‘s work in Histoires improbables is a range of drawings and sculpture that uses “pop culture” and other findings that may (or may not) be disposable. In his artist statement, he only alludes to his drawings a tiny bit while talking about his sculpture. “… these manipulations seem to be able to initiate a second step in my production where shapes and textures rendered can then be expressed in other materials.”
Whichever came first, the sculpture or the drawings; both speak of a longing for nature and its forms, twisted with a sense of humour. The drawings appeared to be of one of two types. Organic, morphing ones (like Fungus no.2, which initially drew me into the gallery) were my personal favorites. I’d truly not seen anything like them before, and they held my attention and imagination long after I’d realised what the elements in them all were. The other sort of drawing was something like a fractured, fragmented view of two (or more) simultaneous pictures, usually done in ink. The result of this was something like a jagged checker-board, or a woven paper effect. These were not as evocative or luring as the softer, more evolved, pencil drawings. I was left with the impression that they were part of the process, and that’s cool.
The sculpture was like pop-culture, plastic tree growths. Colourful, playful, beautiful, and somewhat tragic. They melded plain objects (pencils, household items) with repeated Donald Duck or other Disney characters, and finally colourful polyurethane to make these oddities. Note that when I say oddities, I mean original, cool, and tasty art-pieces.
The paintings (oops sorry about that) photographs in Jocelyn Philibert‘s exhibition Dans la nuit are a stunning study of both trees and visual-planes. Philibert photographs trees, or scenes that include trees, at night. He illuminates the scenes from the front, boldly. The work bears a sense of metaphor and theatricality, owing much to the drama of the artificial lighting, as well as the often isolated subject (tree).
My initial reaction to this work was a sense of awe, a feeling of seeing drawings set in nature, drawings by Nature itself. It seemed more real than real.
The next thing I noticed was how the foreground plane comes forward; more so than with naturally lit subjects. I was reminded of layers of oil in an oil painting, layered plexiglass paintings, and even 3-D Cinema.
Philibert’s Lone Tree is elevated (as in much of Canadian art) to a heroic place; it becomes a Being, a reason for portraiture. Think of Tom Thomson’s The Jack Pine. Think of Rodney Graham. Think of Jocelyn Philibert.
Natasha Henderson, Montreal. The two exhibitions finish up on March 5th, so hurry down to see them. Galerie [sas] 372 St Catherine West, open Monday-Friday 9-5, Saturday 12-5.