Partage Montréal Season 3 Collection
My work, in which references to design and culture amalgamate, takes a variety of forms and is shaped both by previous works and constraints — be they contextual or material. I seek to shake up the boundaries between subject and technique, between personal anecdote and historical reference. Whether material, contextual, or deliberately imposed, constraints serve to not only draw lines in the sand with regard to where a work begins and ends, but at times as content of a work itself.
With this work for Partage Season 3, I have chosen to again employ a grid pattern, one I have explored in previous works. The constraint, naturally imposed by the context of the multiple, brought me to linocut, a printmaking technique often relegated to the teaching of traditional, artisanal engraving techniques. The geometric rigour of the grid is confronted by the irregularities of gesture and engraving. In the foreground, three shapes inspired by a pattern created by the Memphis group are nonchalantly drawn. For Memphis group inspired folk art over grid printed mug and tote bag available in 3 colours, I wanted to explore the contrast between modes of creation deemed traditional or ‘slow’ and the fast-image culture proliferated by media platforms such as Pinterest. With the image provided by curator Susannah Wesley as my starting point, I chose to retain the idea of the pattern rather loosely.
Using Vanessa Bell of the Bloomsbury Group as a starting point, this work is about shape. This simple form of colour is alive, as it is made from light-sensitive photographic paper that will slowly change while on display. The shape references a Judy - a female mannequin - used to make and design clothing. While researching Bell's involvement with the Group's Omega Workshops, I stumbled upon a poster for an event with this shape advertising the exhibition. Its ambiguous reference to the Judy, or of other women's craft made me think of the ever evolving, powerful presence of women in art.
World Wealth investigates the complex interrelations between Canada’s dual role as a fiscal, legal, and financial paradise for the global extractive industry as well as political and economic leverage in the creation of Caribbean offshore economies. The work presented here is the starting point of a wider research project that speaks more specifically to the history of exchange currencies, spherical and hemispheric representations of the world, the material and financial architectures of Canada’s big banks and the place that gold mining occupies at the Toronto Stock Exchange.
The project brings into play the tenuous but tangible links that form the conceptual (and visual) lattice into which is woven the wall-curtain at Toronto’s Royal Bank Plaza, with its roughly 14 000 panels containing more that 2500 ounces of gold. Mirroring themselves, they reflect the emerging contexture, at the turn of the 20th century, of a global financial system within which Canada acts as a hub and Foreign Trade Zone between London and New York and, as such, a gateway to world offshorization.
The beginnings of the World Wealth project translate into an edition of three objects: a gold plate that serves as a pattern and base unit for wallpaper; a key comprising research and visual documentation; a pendant made from the two hemispheres of a currency whose production was abolished in 2013 and along which its chain slides, in turn becoming the standard measure of the imperial foot.
I have been developing an on-going body of work over the last several years that deals on the one hand with the conceptual and formal histories of the medium of painting (and, to a somewhat lesser degree, with those of drawing, printmaking, and sculpture); and, on the other, a western historical narrative of Modernism; examining the parallels and moments of repetition, overlap and divergences within these two histories. This work has over the years taken the shape of the installation as a model for exhibition. Each exhibition becomes a new installment or chapter within the larger body of work that draws out different strands of interest.
The work I created for Partage is a continuation of recent installations in which I reflected on our relationship to objects – the art object and on the notion of value – be it commercial, artistic, historical. I come back to certain historical referents, revisiting them by surrounding them with painted images, texts and found objects, thereby recomposing their established forms and disregarding conventions that usually determine the objects intention within the exhibition. I am inspired by the ambivalence noted by Barthes in "La Critique Ni-Ni" to reread the capitalist nature of the contemporary art object by making it not purely artwork, but not purely utilitarian either.
In my work, I am interested in clothing and optical illusions while pointing to the abstract or absent body. I’m attracted to the patterns in a flurry of basketball players, the competition of their bright jerseys and the distracting crowds, waving scarves in the background of the free throw line. I'm also interested in the distortion of the body that happens when the wavy, moiré patterns appear from an someone wearing a striped shirt on video. Lately, I have been very interested in netting, lace and perforated textiles. For Scrim Patterns, I was thinking about lighting filters and how photographs are distorted and manipulated by pattern and transparency; a sort of camouflage.
Maud… personable or impersonal, the fabric design by painter Vanessa Bell comes into being by way of a female name, its title. Produced for the Omega Workshop in 1913, the reference to a female subject opens a dialogue between artist and patron, Lady Maud Cunard. At first glance, Bell’s textile design evokes with humour frayed linen pieces as abstract patterns. Superimposed with subtlety are the many grey threads capping this labyrinth of colourful rhythmic swatches.
Up in the sky of Maryse Larivière’s collages, the blue, orange and teal fabric magazine cut-outs obfuscate the landscape in an aerial dance over scenes of wild birds. Our gaze meanders through the folds of fabric forming appendages in suspension before discovering that the reference to fashion invests the space of the feminine body with force, as to reimagine Maud, the original textile work, the blouse made from the linen fabric, the women who wore this avant-garde garment. The conversation between Bell and Larivière and Maud is an unforced cheerfulness, funny and obvious. From plumage to flowery corolla, and the silky ruffles transformed into acrobatic shapes, the collages of Larivière riposte – prosaically and ecstatically – to the disappearance of experience.
Partage Montréal Season 2 Collection curator: Susannah Wesley
At the outset of this project I chose to give each artist, as a starting point, a work by the multidisciplinary Bloomsbury artist/designer Vanessa Bell. Maude, 1913 is a fabric design Bell produced through the Omega Workshop. In choosing Bell’s work, several aspects of her practice were of interest to me. She brought the ‘fine art’ avant-garde aesthetics of abstraction into design and the everyday. Her practice integrated everything: painting, fashion, ceramics, furniture and interior design. In this regard, when mindfully crafted, all objects, artworks or otherwise, seem to have the same value for Bell. Whether directly or indirectly, I wondered how, or if, the work produced for Partage Montreal’s Season 3 would speak to issues and references associated with Bell’s work.
Susannah Wesley is an artist based in Montreal. Since 2004 she has been working collaboratively with Meredith Carruthers under the name ‘Leisure’. Recent solo exhibitions include, Arranging Time/Chorégraphie Temporelle at ESP (Toronto, 2015) and Dualité/Dualité at Artexte (Montreal, 2015), as well as the group exhibition The Let Down Reflex at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (NYC, 2016). Wesley received an MA in Art History from Concordia in 2008 and an MFA from the Glasgow School of Art in 2002. Previously she was a member of the notorious ‘Leeds 13’ art collective in the UK.
Meet the talent: Season 3 Collection Artists
Maryse Larivière is an artist, writer and scholar whose work re-imagines how we engage with the textual, visual and social through bodily and emotional acts of encounter. Her practice crosses art, literature, politics and theory, taking the form of text, performance, sculpture, collage and film. Recent projects include Talking Back, Otherwise (JHI @ Art Museum University of Toronto), Down to Write You this Poem Sat (Oakville Galleries) and A Pool Is Water (Galerie Division). Larivière is the 2016 - 2017 writer-in-residence at Gallery 44.
Karen Kraven is a Montreal-based artist who draws inspiration from the world of competitive sports. Working in photography, sculpture and installation, Kraven often straddles the line between representation and abstraction. Kraven’s work is in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, TD Bank Group, the Royal Bank of Canada and Banque Nationale. She has had recent solo exhibitions at Mercer Union (Toronto), the Darling Foundry (Montreal) and the ICA in Portland, Oregon. This fall, she will have a solo exhibition at her Montreal gallery, Parisian Laundry, and participate in a group show in Marseille, France.
Born in Memphis, TN, Grier Edmundson has been developing an on-going body of work over the last several years which deals on the one hand with the conceptual and formal histories of the medium of painting (and, to a somewhat lesser degree, with those of drawing, printmaking, and sculpture); and, on the other, a western historical narrative of Modernism; examining the parallels and moments of repetition, overlap and divergences within these two histories. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Kendall Koppe Gallery (Glasgow), Fourteen30 Contemporary (Portland), Battat Contemporary (Montreal) and PowerHouse (Memphis).
Étienne Tremblay-Tardif develops a spatial practice that deploys mechanical and digital reproduction techniques. Along a materialist perspective, he engages sociopolitical and economic texts, textures and contextures. The notions of information and display, ornementation and decoration, circulation and use, frame his interests for architecture, material culture and printed forms.
Elise Windsor holds a BFA from OCAD U and is a recent graduate of the MFA program at Concordia University. Her work straddles photography, sculpture, and designed objects. She has a flair for the big, bright, and bold. She is part of the collective Tangerine Dream and is currently living and working in Montreal. She recently completed a residency revolving around Still Life in the Rocky Mountains of Banff, Alberta.
Amélie Guerin is an artist living and working in Montréal, Quebec whose past solo and duo exhibitions includes An average Translation, with artist Grier Edmundson at Fourteen30 Contemporary (Portland, 2015), Une Salade Dans Un Contexte Supérieur, Clark gallery (Montreal, 2009), Everything in Between no big TRUTHS, Parisian Laundry (Montreal, 2009). Her work has been included in group exhibitions such as Territoires imaginés, Musée d’art contemporain des Laurentides (Saint-Jérôme, 2014); I think of you, Battat Contemporary (Montreal, 2014); and Correcciones Marginales, AECID (Cartagena, Columbia, 2013).