John Player


August 19 – September 9, 2017

Opening Saturday August 19th from 3pm to 6pm
Artist in attendance

What does it mean for an artist who has been preoccupied with landscape for the past five years to paint interiors? This body of work marks a shift in John Player’s methodology for a few reasons: he has come inside, to the realm of home and private life, and he has come closer, from disembodied aerial renderings of landscape to the deeply familiar scale of rooms and tents, things we measure with our bodies. He has also, for the first time, painted primarily from photographs he took himself, on a cycling trip through the Baltic states funded by the Brucebo Foundation.

Player, who has in the past taken up translating disposable images (stills from surveillance cameras, satellite views of landscape) to the seemingly more permanent medium of painting, is now rendering provisional domestic spaces whose precarity is a result of the same imperialism that he has been pointing at all along. This is his first exhibition that is comprised of more interiors than anything else, although most of the depicted spaces contain representations of landscape within them, in the form of faded posters or peeling wallpapered murals. Most of the interiors depict Skrunda-1, a former Soviet radar station in western Latvia, now a ghost town and, more recently, a burgeoning tourist attraction.[1]

In Recent Past 2, a swath of ripped wallpaper creates a confusion of surfaces within the logic of the picture plane. The eye hesitates between resting on the “real” depiction of a fragment of wallpaper, torn and hanging from a yellowed wall, and the space depicted in the wallpaper, a stream and some rocks amid slender tree trunks. The viewer understands that this is a representation of a representation, yet the temptation to see the forest as an alternate world beyond a dissolved surface isn’t easily shaken. It appears as though part of a blank wall has been peeled back to reveal a space has been willed into existence just beyond this bleak room in a military housing complex. There is pleasure in letting your focus slip beyond the logical surface that echoes the longing and nostalgia inherent in choosing to live with such depictions in the first place. 1994 depicts a different kind of desire for belonging—an adolescent’s longing for rebellion, for the twinned ideals of nihilism and hope, embodied by the Christ-like Kurt Cobain. Both the Recent Past series and 1994 point self-consciously at temporal markers. Depicting a last moment of the pre-internet era, these physical fragments of desire and escape suggest an alternate worldview, a fragile connective tissue between Russia and the West, one not visible on radar screens.

The images one chooses to live with reflect desire as well as cultural identity and taste; living with idealized representations of landscape may well be borne out of a desire for ownership over the land, the desire for connection and unity with the natural world exacerbated by a concurrent and increasing alienation from it. The romantic vistas featured on the walls of Skrunda’s apartment blocks expose a desire for the organic and the eternal, a fantasy of culture falling away. Yet the fact of their production and circulation also reveals depictions of land as emblematic of national identity, which became conflated with individual longing. Svetlana Boym wrote that “nostalgia is about the relationship between individual biography and the biography of groups and nation, between personal and collective memory.” And with Decommissioned, Player comes a little closer to revealing his own conflation of the personal and the collective. Painted from a photo found in a military archive of the Pinetree Line radar stations, the image could just as easily have come from Player’s family slide collection (his maternal grandfather worked for NORAD[2]). Most of the images in this archive sit uncomfortably on the border between official document and vernacular snapshot. Decommissioned depicts a ceremonial cake that is modeled after a radome; we aren’t quite sure if it is official military history, or an idiomatic record of a whimsical dessert.

If Player often chooses imagery that signals desire for control and ownership of the land, as well as nationhood and belonging, what does it mean for him to depict landscapes reproduced on wallpaper, or military equipment in the form of a cake? Spaces like Skrunda both clarify and complicate the connections between dwelling, representation, and socio-political conditions. Player’s work has been focused on geopolitics for several years now, but these depictions of domestic interiors point to a different facet of the relationship between land and power. The desire to master nature and control territory appears more innocuous (eerily so) in these feminized forms and environments.

Is this painting of a cake enough to say there has been a biographical turn in Player’s work? His previous work investigated the aesthetics of power by equating cool detachment with the capacity to obliterate, suppress, appropriate, and seize. After depicting images that were at once official and disposable, it’s as though he is now curious about the inverse—vernacular images authored by bodies, and real, visitable places that are both more tangible and less official. After so long dealing with ciphers, Player is now looking to remnants of material culture to try to bridge aesthetics of power and militarism to the lived and embodied experiences of individuals.

– Lise Latreille (08-2017)

[1] The trip through the Baltic states was funded by the Brucebo Foundation, Sweeden.
[2] North American Aerospace Defense Command

To view all the images of the show, click here

John Player was born in Victoria, BC in 1983. He holds a BFA in Studio Arts and a MFA in Painting and Drawing from Concordia University. He has participated in various group exhibitions in Montreal, where he has worked and lived since 2004. John was part of the Baie St-Paul Symposium in 2015 and of the Art Omi (NY) residency programme. In 2016, he was awarded the William Blair Bruce Travel Scholarship to undertake research cycling through former Soviet Republics. Finalist of the RBC Painting Competition in 2015, his work can found in numerous private collections and in the corporate collections of Groupe Courchesne Larose and BMO Financial Group.

– John Player’s web site.
– John Player’s artist page on the gallery website.
– Bill Clarke, ” STUDIO VIEW : John Player “, Magenta Foundation

The Gallery thanks SODEC for its support.


John Player
Shelter, 2016
Oil on canvas
83.8 x 1106.7 cm (33″ x 42″)


John Player
1994, 2016
Oil on canvas
76.2 x 83.8 cm (30″ x 33″)

Top image: Backdrop, 2016, 83.8 x 106.7 cm (33″ x 42″)

Dana Velan / Jérôme Fortin


June 3 – 30, 2017

Opening Saturday June 3 from 3 to 6 pm
Dana Velan in attendance

Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain is proud to present concurrently two bodies of work by Dana Velan and Jérôme Fortin.

Dana Velan, an artist living and working in Montreal, Canada, left her native Czecho-Slovakia during the political turmoil of 1968. She earned a degree in Art History at McGill University and a degree in Fine Arts at Concordia University in Montreal, and her MFA at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, Boston, Massachusets. Velan’s artistic practice is formed by the perception of nature as a site of transformation. The creation of her new series of drawings titled Nebulae of large scale (90″x126″, and oil sticks on Mylar medium), involved a close observation of numerous astronomical photographs depicting nebulas, such as the Eagle, the Orion and the Crab nebulas. These images were used as a starting point to craft free interpretations. Giving the impression that these images could spread infinitely outside of the frames, these drawings when presented together in an exhibition space, envelop the visitors in a universe filled with the movement, energy, darkness and light, and encourage us to reflect on our own inner landscape. Blending together inner and external landscapes without giving the coordinate system leaves the images open to a number of unknown meditations.
 

Tabula rasa forges new paths while retaining the fundamental elements of well known Quebec artist Jérôme Fortin’s artistic vision: repetition, paper work, recycling and variations on a theme. Tabula rasa is a collection of unique works created from an assemblage of lithographic fragments. Folded, patterned paper served as the printing matrix. Rhythmic and dynamic, the collages give further expression to Fortin’s persistent fascination with repetition while marking a departure from the linearity of his earlier works. In Tabula rasa, the artist injects new life into his plastic language by highlighting diagonal trajectories and placing an emphasis on engraving rather than daily objects. Here, it is his works that he transforms, recycles, and reinvents. The formal elements of Tabula rasa explore the play between disruption and continuity. Each of the works deftly marries the sharp contrasts between the lithographic fragments with subtle transitions. Varying shades of grey illuminate some sections while obscuring or even erasing others. The juxtaposition of lithographic fragments creates lines and forms, each providing a unique spark that invigorates the composition. Patterns collide and blend over this vertical wavescape, inviting the eye to wander from one zone to another.

Top image: Dana Velan, Echo Nebula
Bottom image: Jérôme Fortin, Tabula rasa

Maskull Lasserre – Omen


April 29 – May 27, 2017

Opening Saturday April 29th from 3 pm to 6 pm
Artist in attendance

The stillness of inanimate matter and the silence of motionless surfaces are not the true condition of objects. Stasis, in fact, is not an attribute of the things we hurry past in our daily lives but rather an inherent artifact of the human timeframe.

The objects in Omen are ensnared by the threshold of stillness and motion. They have just moved or are just about to. Each work carries a burden of potential inherited from its material lineage of forest, or ore, and from human interventions of intent, worry and hope. This burden is delivered to the viewer not in physical weight or material worth, but through the silent charge that propels any purpose to its fulfilment; through the taut spring of expectation that is left to uncoil within the viewer’s skull.

– ML

Maskull Lasserre (born 1978) spent his formative years in South Africa before returning to Canada. He has a BFA in Visual Art and Philosophy from Mount Allison University, and an MFA in Studio Art from Concordia University.

Maskull’s work has been exhibited at Banksy’s Dismaland, and at the Museum of Art and Design in New York. He has held visiting artist positions at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, at Kohler Art/Industry and with the Canadian Armed Forces. His work appears on Canadian coinage and is represented in collections in Canada, the US, and Europe including those of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art and the Canadian War Museum. He has taught sessionally at Concordia, York, and Emily Carr Universities, as well as at the California College of Art.

Maskull’s drawings and sculptures explore the unexpected potential of the everyday by inducing strangeness in the familiar, and provoking uncertainty in the expected. Each work is developed as a model to mediate the translation of experience between matter and mind.


Omen
2015
4000lb cast iron birds
variable dimensions
HD video documentation
(Courtesy John Michael Kohler Art Centre)


Elsa
2017
shoe forms, steel trap
30 x 30 x 32 cm. (12” x 12” x 13”)

Image at top: Omen, 2015, 4000lb cast iron birds, variable dimensions, HD video documentation (Courtesy John Michael Kohler Art Centre)

Kent Monkman: A Story of Canada

Opening Saturday January 28, 2017 from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Artist in attendance

Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain in Toronto is pleased to present Kent Monkman: A Story of Canada. This exhibition focuses on residential schools and the removal of children from their families and communities on reservations in Canada. From early colonial days to the 1960s and beyond, missionaries and mounties facilitated the aggressive and traumatic separation of indigenous children from their rightful heritage and nationality. Five new paintings and a new photographic series titled Fate is a Cruel Mistress will be featured.

Click here for installation views and works on display.

This exhibition follows the opening of Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience at the Art Museum of the University of Toronto.

Read more : Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience

Click here for more information about Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience at the Art Museum of the University of Toronto.

Kent Monkman is a Canadian artist of Cree ancestry who works with a variety of mediums, including painting, film/video, performance, and installation. He has had solo exhibitions in numerous Canadian museums have including the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. He has participated in various international group exhibitions including: The American West, at Compton Verney, in Warwickshire, England, Remember Humanity at Witte de With, Rotterdam, the 2010 Sydney Biennale, and Oh Canada!, MASS MOCA. The Musée d’art contemporain de Rochechouart in France presented his first solo exhibition in Europe in 2014. Kent has work for the last two years on Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience a major touring exhibition which started at the Art Museum of the University of Toronto. Currently also on view at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery are the works of his Four Continents shown together for the first time. His work is represented in numerous public and private collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Denver Art Museum, Musée d’art contemporain de Rochechouart, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, la Fondation de la Maison Rouge (Paris), the Musée d’art contemporain de Montreal, Rideau Hall, Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery at Concordia University, the Glenbow Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Claridge, BMO Financial Group and the RBC Art Collection.

Ripley Whiteside: Aquariums of Toronto

carton
Opening Saturday December 3rd from 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Artist in attendance

Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain is pleased to present Aquariums of Toronto an exhibition of new works by Ripley Whiteside on display at Centre-Space from December 3 – 24, 2016.

At first glance, Whiteside’s suite of large and medium-sized drawings appear as menageries of colourful and exotic aquatic species. In Spadina (2016), for instance, a lithe and green-coloured American eel descends diagonally through the water towards its unsuspecting prey – one of several Siamese fighting fish that occupy the same glass enclosure.

Like all of the works in this exhibition however, Whiteside’s juxtaposition of rare, beautiful and foreign underwater species now found in the Greater Toronto Area is informed by a deeper investigation of the ecological consequences of both aquacultural development and our need for spectacle.

As a rapidly expanding global city, Toronto has experienced growth that has been costly to biodiversity. Loss of habitat, pollution, overfishing and other environmental problems that accompany development have significantly impacted ecosystems of Lake Ontario and other local waterways. Globalization also presents us with strange and accidental migrations of great consequence: the integration of the Great Lakes into global trade networks via the St. Lawrence Seaway inadvertently resulted in the introduction of invasive species—like the round goby and zebra mussel—into Toronto’s local underwater environment.

A stroll through downtown Toronto reveals a condensed form of the dislocation of aquatic life: the aquarium. This ubiquitous form of display appears in various guises – decorations for dentists’ offices or hotel lobbies, commodity presentations at pet stores of fishmongers, or entertainment and education at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. In the logic of the aquarium, the plants’ and animals’ state of displacement is overcome in their aestheticization. In this way, the aquarium’s fantastical and alluring arrangements efface the realities of ecological crisis. This disquieting effacement of globalization and climate change, and particularly of Lake Ontario, is an essential concern for Aquariums of Toronto. — Ripley Whiteside

Originally from North Carolina, Ripley Whiteside is a Montreal-based visual artist. He graduated with a BFA from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2008, and earned a MFA from the State University of New York-Buffalo in 2012. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions in the U.S. and Canada, and is the recipient of various grants and residencies.

The gallery thanks SODEC for its support

rw_bloor_2016

To see all available works click here

Image (top):
Spadina, 2016, Aqua-dispersion pigment, watercolour, and ink
124 x 96.5 cm (49″ x 38″)

Image (bottom):
Bloor, Aqua-dispersion pigment, watercolour, and ink
124 x 96.5 cm (49″ x 38″)

Dil Hildebrand: It is a Complicated Business

DH_2015_Long-in-the-Tooth
March 19 – April 16, 2016
Opening: Saturday March 19 from 3 pm to 6 pm | Artist in attendance

Pierre-Francois Ouellette art contemporain is pleased to present the exhibition It is a Complicated Business featuring recent paintings and collages by Dil Hildebrand. In his most recent work, Hildebrand further explores the parallels between architecture and painted images.

This exhibition takes its title from a passage in The Nature of the Physical World by physicist Sir Arthur Eddington. In it, Eddington describes how the seemingly simple act of entering a room becomes a series of complex reflections as he considers the role that gravity, the rotation of the earth around the sun, and the fourth dimension all play in the movement of his body through a passageway, writing:

“I am standing on the threshold about to enter a room. It is a complicated business. In the first place I must shove against an atmosphere pressing with a force of fourteen pounds on every square inch of my body. I must make sure of landing on a plank travelling at twenty miles a second round the sun – a fraction of a second too early or too late, the plank would be miles away. I must do this whilst hanging from a round planet, head outward into space, and with a wind of aether blowing at no one knows how many miles a second through every interstice of my body. The plank has no solidity of substance. To step on it is like stepping on a swarm of flies. Shall I not slip through? No, if I make the venture one of the flies hits me and gives a boost up again; I fall again and am knocked upward by another fly; and so on. I may hope that the net result will be that I remain about steady; but if unfortunately I should slip through the floor or be boosted too violently up to the ceiling, the occurrence would not be a violation of the laws of Nature, but a rare coincidence. These are some of the minor difficulties. I ought really to look at the problem four-dimensionally as concerning the intersection of my world-line with that of the plank. Then again it is necessary to determine in which direction the entropy of the world is increasing in order to make sure that my passage over the threshold is an entrance, not an exit. Verily, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a scientist to pass through a door. And whether the door be barn door or church door it might be wiser that he should consent to be an ordinary man and walk in rather than wait till all the difficulties involved in a really scientific ingress are resolved.”

Hildebrand proposes that such paralyzing ambivalence can serve to describe “the act of making and perhaps even encountering paintings – a physical revulsion to the prospect of being transformed by the experience.” The sense of the body’s instability in motion described so eloquently by Eddington finds its parallel in the dizzying experience of entering the pictorial space of Hildebrand’s paintings and collages, where the illusion of varying planes of space is contradicted by punctuations of flat line and textured surfaces.

The Gallery thanks SODEC for its support.

Dil Hildebrand is an artist living and working in Montreal. Hildebrand’s work has been shown internationally in such venues as the National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2010); the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2012); Herron Galleries at University of Indiana, Indianapolis (2013); Choi&Lager Gallery, Cologne (2013); Union Gallery, London UK (2012&13); University of Manitoba School of Art Gallery, Winnipeg (2013); YYZ, Toronto (2011); Galerie de l’UQAM, Montreal (2013); Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal (2014); AUT University Gallery, Auckland NZ (2007); and Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto (2006). Hildebrand is an MFA graduate of Concordia University, Montreal and has been awarded a number of distinguished grants and awards including the International Residency at Acme Studios, London UK (2013); the Banff Centre Thematic Residency (2009) and was winner of the RBC National Painting Competition (2006). His work has been collected by major public institutions throughout Canada, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Bank of the Canada Council.

PFOAC_logo_T

Image :
Long in the Tooth, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 125.5 x 122 cm (60″ x 48″)

 

Jutai Toonoo: Life

jt-1
A Retrospective Exhibition
March 5 – March 26

Jutai Toonoo belonged to the middle generation of Inuit artists who bridged the old and new worlds of the Arctic. Born in 1959, he grew up in Cape Dorset, a witness to the transformation of this small isolated settlement to a modern community. Ever curious, he took advantage of increased communications and global awareness to reach out for knowledge. The art mirrored the man; thoughtful, philosophical, and questioning.