I’ve just gotten back from vacation, back to “Dirty Socks and Oatmeal”, as my Aunt might say. As any of you who may have read my musings before might know, I try to concentrate on the positive, getting back from the land of fairy tales and never ending sunshine left me feeling a little dismal. It was hard to get right back into the swing of things. Don’t get me wrong, stuff was getting done. I just wasn’t all that enthusiastic about things. I switched some paintings at the shop, pre-wrote a couple of essays and got back to the gym, more or less right where I left off. It was pretty uninspiring though just the daily grind. I was feeling pretty bleak about things as the day got started, I mean, today was going to be a great day regardless, I just didn’t know how great. By the end of it all, I felt pretty invigorated and excited. You see it started when…
I found myself invited to a press screening of “New Music”. The Fifth edition of the the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art’s Projection, series a series of video instillations curated by Louise Simard. This particular edition dealt with the duality between art and music. The fact the music can be an integral of the art making process and that many visual artists are in fact also musicians. For this edition artists composed music videos for favourite songs and original compositions. The works varied from straight music video style presentation such as Sam Taylor Wood’s video for Elton John’s ”I Want Love” to the more smug commentary made by Rineke Dijkstra filming a young girl nervously yet fairly effortlessly lip syncing the words to a Back Street Boys Song.
Dominique T. Slots
Videos of note were, Local artist Dominique T. Slots’ “Dislock 1 and 3” two videos from a series of five, which were part performance and part visual composition. I state this because although the video had very theatric or live dance feel, I believe that much of the movement by the performers in the video was created in the editing process not during filming. The works she showed where original, and very elegant. Another pleasant surprise was finding my new favourite artist, Marcel Dzama’s, imagery directed by Patrick Daughters in “No one Does it Like You “by The Department of Eagles. High Art meets Hummor meets Indy Rock creates some groovy intelligent imagery. And No One Does It Like These Guys. If they sell it on I-tunes I guarantee it’s worth the dollar fifty though. The final notable video was the “Same Problem” by Benny Nemerosky Ramsy and Alessa Choene a video of a man singing to the ocean and the ocean responding. It is very tranquil and peaceful.
My day of art was not over though. A group of galleries are hosting a series of exhibitions called “Extreme Paintings”. Two of my good friends where involved and so I was invited to two openings. First it was off Gallery D’Este to see what Mark Leibner had in store. One of the things I love about Marc is his taste in collectors is as good as his taste in art. Lots of people where out for this show. It was a warm summer’s day and natural lighting lit the space nicely. The show featured work by a small group of Canadian painters. The works of Costa Devorezky, Drew Simpson, and Suzan Szenes spoke to me most as a painter and an art appreciator. All were executed with the distinct style of each artist. Costa’s work was large and brightly colored his figures or subject matter was created with gestural brush marks emphasising highlights and low lights. Movement is created in these large images as brush strokes are thin and not always blended, leaving splashes of color to engage the viewers eyes not only creating a sense of form but also motion. The Backgrounds for these are painted in one color, sometimes they are over painted onto the image sometimes they are left simply as a background color withwhich to place the subject.
On the exact opposite end of the spectrum would be the works of Drew Simpson, small highly rendered immaculate still life paintings of flowers in vases. These tiny works are masterfully painted with skill that references some of the great paintings of antiquity. As I am not an academic, references escape me so please excuse. What I can state is that these ornate paintings are rendered so well a brush stroke can not be seen. The same detail and care is taken in the painting of the flowers as in vases, which for these works are detailed ornate antiques often accentuated by gold leaf. Traditional images that might have appeared on the vessel, such as an aristocrat picnicking in a park, have been replaced by more contemporary and nihilistic images, such as a mushroom cloud, or a basket full of skulls. Very Nice Work.
And really nothing said Canadiana Art to me like the works of Suzan Szenes. Painted on wood in earthy colors latent with 70’s and 80’s cultural reference. Her work spoke to me of the journey of every Canadian who has explored our vast land. Long road trips, endless fields of green, sprawling highways and dirt roads and endless hours of travel. It spoke to me of every great corner of this country and took me on a nostalgic journey back to my youth.
It was refreshing to walk into a gallery and find so many great creators in one place. I did not find what I might of expected when I first heard the words Extreme Painting. What I did find was some Extremely Good Painters and Paintings though. As I wrote in their book “This Show Proves That Punk is Dead Painting’s Not”.