Photo: Richard Ivey
This painting has nothing of monotonous.
One foot in the cultural diversity, another in the burst of painting, the exhibition Relationships : the diaspora and the paint has noble intentions. Although lengthy at times, the project of the curator Cheryl Sim mark the reopening of the Foundation PHI for contemporary art by giving it a new face. If the expo had not been announced at the beginning of the year, we may believe that it is the pandemic that has transformed the place.
Founded more than ten years, the foundation of the Old Montreal has made a name by hosting monumental installations and multimedia works, multiplying screens and images. Except for a few instances, the painting has rarely echoed within its walls. The history of the once-DHC has been taking place since 2007 around also figures of the international contemporary art scene, those who have the honour of biennials and most prestigious institutions. Very rarely, local artists, understand canadians, have had the opportunity to exhibit there.
It initiates a new way of doing it, Relations : diaspora and the paint includes a good lot of works carried out or reported in land in canada. Collections and galleries here have been put to contribution, which the quebec Art Mûr, Bradley-Ertaskiran and Hugues Charbonneau.
The paint allows it otherwise reports that are more simple, or direct, with the item It does not exclude the presence of works of complex and rich, but above all, the choice of paint, a discipline historically associated with the western power, is appropriate because it is no longer the case of a school, of an order.
The complexity of a word
This painting has nothing of monotonous. Reflection of what painting means today – it is far from the single stroke of a brush, it brings together works as diverse as cotton, embroidered with Jordan Nassar or the compositions bindis (felt, round) Bharti Kher.
Mixed media (photo transfer, acrylic, fabric, wood, found) in Shanna Strauss open the tour with a bang. It is actually in an assembly of the dissimilarities, on the whole consistent. The artist of Virginia, of tanzanian origin, and based now in Montreal, is one of the beautiful discoveries. And the work she carries out with Jessica Sabogal, with characters larger than life, a true call to the opening.
The approximation or the “relationship” between painting and diaspora through the concept of burst, and scatter the same from the difficulty of defining a state – a cultural identity, for example. In reality, this is not so much paint that the commissioner wanted to talk about diaspora, this ” word a complex and elusive “, the “term/concept/condition/experience” to which Cheryl Sim is despite it facing.
In other places, in other times, perhaps, there would have been no question of diaspora, but of immigration or multiculturalism, a portmanteau word maligned. The about is more subtle here, even if, at the time of the Black Lives Matter awakens ill the folds of the exclusion and marginalization of populations, the exposure falls off tail-hair. Vast and varied, it brings together fifty works of nearly thirty artists to multiple roots, based in Great Britain, the United States or Canada.
A flowering of individualities
But what is the diaspora ? The one where ” no speech moved “, writes the commissioner, where his choice of privileging a multiplicity of voices. Beyond their membership of an ethnic group or other category (social class, gender…), each artist has a unique experience, which is reflected in a practice well personal. Free of thematic groupings, the course of the expo blurs the tracks, promotes the mixing of the sexes. No red wire does not go through the rooms.
Even the presence of the conceptual artist Yoko Ono, a star anywhere else, not just dictate or a chronology or a hierarchy. His two works-instructions, whose Painting for the Wind (1961), which sprang up almost incognito at the turning point of a room, are part, however, these proposals, which transgressed the boundaries (between disciplines), while the abstract painting reigned.
Like Ono’s other renowned artists to horse cultures and disciplines are part of the exhibition, such as Yinka Shonibare, Lubaina Himid (a pioneer of women’s art, black in the 1980s) or, at the canadian level, Ed Pien. PHI does not pretend to play in finding talent, as most of the people selected have already been included in the circuit of the galleries. The contemporary art, it would be more inclusive than other sectors of society ?
One can draw commonalities here and there, especially in the first part of the expo (the one in the building floors). Diaspora equaling distance, the work is based on memories, artifacts, and the imagination is present in several. Thus, the oils of the British Hurving Anderson, of caribbean origin, have their areas that is inaccurate or fragmented, of the blue intimidating in Peter’s Sitters II (2009) at the sight of an interior, a view obstructed by a glowing grid in Welcome : Carib (2005).
The painting’s narrative, and intimate, and the tracery of lines and colors, are other recurring elements, magnified in particular by inks on mylar of Moridja Kitenge Banza, an artist who has the support of the galerie Hugues Charbonneau.
Even if it does not lack interest, the second building suffers from too large presence of artists, some of which have pens suggesting small solos. It is difficult though to appreciate these spaces narrow as that of the Montreal Manuel Mathieu, whose spring has not been one of its great output (three-expos postponed). He is also represented by Hugues Charbonneau will have its time.
To see the video
Relations: the diaspora and the paint
The Foundation PHI for contemporary art, 451 and 456, rue Saint-Jean, until 29 November.