Friday, December 14, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Where to begin,
‘I am old , I am slow and other digressions’
What of using this blog as my public journal?
‘je suis vieille, je suis lente et autres digressions’,
is the name of an exhibition by Montréal based artist
Barbara Claus at Diagonale centre d’Artistes,
5455 de Gaspé, Montréal.
I happen to know that Barbara Claus is about
10 years younger than me, so her title caught me off guard.
I wondered if things had been rough for her lately.
I went to see her show anticipating a bit
of a smack up the side of my happy face.
Claus chose to take a pass on the traditional opening/vernissage.
The exhibition is open during regular gallery hours and if you want
to talk to the artist about the work you can make an appointment
any day between 8 and 6 to meet, talk and share a cup of tea.
On entering the gallery my attention was pulled to the south
wall. The wall painted brown almost black, is covered
in white chalk writing with a small neon sign attached, lower left.
The neon reads je suis vieille (I am old) and the chalk writing reads
je suis vieille over and over, je suis vielle, je suis vieille.
During her exhibition Claus will keep writing/drawing on the wall,
the words massing into dense forms in some parts, open and
threadlike in others. It makes me think that ' I am old '
is an ever changing state.
In a similar way the west wall has been approached as a
site-specific work. This neon reads ‘je suis morte’ ( I am dead).
A different wall, a different place - being dead, feels more static,
with a rough surface, a bit edgy.
On the north wall 17, 22” x 30 ” drawings are hung with magnets.
These drawings, developed through the same writing/drawing technique
as the 'je suis vieille' wall.
In the enclosed corner space of the east wall the words,
‘je suis foutue’* ( I am fucked ) are cut into the drywall with a router.
The drywall dust lies on the floor below. All white on white in this corner.
Near the door there is a notice posted on the wall.
I didn’t see it until I was on my way out.
Avertissement - It is a warning to gallery visitors.
The warning en français explains that this exhibition is intended for a mature audience.
Advising artists and curators under 35 that they may be shocked or disturbed by the fact that no funding was received in the making of this work.
Barbara Claus is speaking the unspeakable. Since the big awards (RBC, Sobey. etc.) for artists under 35 have been introduced I’ve had wistful conversations with many artists well past 35, wondering where those awards were when we were that age. It is something that you keep to yourself as it sounds a bit like sour grapes, to even say it out loud.
But here is Barbara Claus not just saying it out loud but digging it into the walls of the gallery
‘I am fucked’.
Ironically the opposite feeling bursts through this exhibition. It is an act of willful intent. There is an honesty and a freedom here that I think may have been thwarted had there been a line running across the bottom of the invitation thanking the Conseil des Arts du Canada et le Conseil des arts des letters du Quebec for their financial support.
It is a refreshing experience to come upon something so heartfelt,
spoken with a mature and celebratory voice. It couldn’t have happened when Claus
was under 35 and it wouldn’t have happened had she received funding for this
Now, I hope that she sells some of those beautiful drawings to pay for her freedom,
and her next exhibition.
* when I asked Barbara Claus for her translation of je suis foutue
she said “I am done
I am finished
I am fucked ….. or something like that….!”
Exhibition Continues Until December 13th 2012
photos Guy L'heureux
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Charles Hackbarth’s Everything AND Nothing and Barbara Rehus’s Can’t. Breathe. opened to a lovely crowd composed of friends and family last Saturday. Please enjoy the short video and photos taken at the reception.
Video and photos by Patricia Njovu
Friday, November 23, 2012
Everything AND Nothing is finally installed at loop Gallery! For me, drawing is direct, spontaneous, immediate and visceral. The act of drawing creates a direct channel to the imagination, to the unconscious. This stream-of-consiousness approach leaves little time for second guessing. One has to trust that each twitch of muscle and each nuance of chalk will lead eventually to some form of congruent narrative.
Faces and figures emerge seemingly on their own accord. Shapes draw themselves. My job is to implement some semblance of order, but really, each drawing seems to have its inner logic. Not that I don't try to force my intention on a drawing. For example, up above, what started out as a coyote ended up looking like a genteel family dog. The drawing immediately above started out as a large drawing with a background and landscape but ... well, the process dictated otherwise. Out came the X-acto and "goodbye" went the landscape.
My work is influenced by my interest is psycho-spiritual matters. Over the years I have studied Buddhism, Shamanism, Transformational Psychotherapy along with various forms of energy healing, meditation and expressive arts. There are some obvious art history influences such as Bosch and Breughal, alchemistical illustrations, surrealism, magic realism and contemporary figurative work. I like the fact that the work feels old and new at the same time. If you're interested in learning more about these works, Barbara Rehus, who is showing Can't.Breath, and I will be doing an artist's ramble on Sunday, December 9th at 2pm. Eschewing the traditional artist's talk or Q&A, we ask you to join us as we ramble around the gallery and address our work in a casual, rambling manner.
As well, on Sunday, December 2nd, my band The Body In Question and I will be playing a concert of quiet, ambient electronic music.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Can’t. Breathe., the new work by Toronto-based artist Barbara Rehus, is at times deep, at times dark, at times funny. It takes us back to the question of the ages: How much of what we do is up to us? How much is preordained? What are we all but the puppets or marionettes of some master puppeteer who is perhaps sinister, perhaps sadistic, perhaps benevolent, perhaps all of these things and more? This body of work explores life/existence as if it were an enormous puppet show. It examines the absurdity, the powerlessness we all can sometimes feel as our strings are pulled, our buttons pushed.
|Barbara Rehus 'Can't. Breath'|
The title piece of this work, Can’t. Breathe. is particularly powerful in its creepy one-ness. How do we break out of a crushing conformity that is very physical as evidenced by the puppet heads squashed together and smashed into a box but that is also very spiritual and emotional as it evokes thoughts of cultural/societal coercion and conformity. The question asked over and over in this work centers around the notion of how do we get out? How can we break free?
White Men Talking is reminiscent of a recurring theme in much of Rehus’s work – the dismissal of people, particularly the dismissal of women, by those in power or those perceived to have power, the superiority and self-involvement of a closed circle of Euro-centric homogenous men who have no room in their heads for other ideas, other ways of doing things, other ways of being. In this distorted world, one voice is presumed to speak for all and the smug superiority that emanates from that voice is smothering to all who hear it.
|Rehus 'White Man Talking'|
The piece entitled Is This an Island? is a powerful statement of loss or the fear or anticipation of loss, whether actual or perceived. Who will care about me? What will I have, having been left/bereft? All of us, in our shared humanness, have a fear of isolation, a sense of mourning for what or who has left us, has changed for us. We sometimes find ourselves clasping and holding dear what remains, whether real or imagined. We may actually have much more than what is in our grasp but that is not our perception and so that is not our truth.
|Rehus 'Is this and Island?'|
Rehus’s work, in this current installation as well as in earlier exhibitions, compels us to look at the power of the relationships we form and have with the people, cultures, and societies that make up our personal world. We are made from those we come from, from our understanding of where we begin and where those we came from end, from what we choose to move toward and what we choose to move away from. What buffets us along the way may or may not be within our control.
Writer and Poet
Monday, November 19, 2012
Friday, November 16, 2012
|Hague 'Being Natural', woodcut|
on Okawara paper, wire,
detail, Durham, Art Gallery, 2010
Libby Hague is immersed in animation right now. Immersed is the right word because it is a diving and swimming scene. It's all good but busy but when isn't it.
Hague is exhibiting at the Joshua Creek Heritge Art Centre in Oakville from Nov. 2-18
Follow this link to see more of libby's work:
Thursday, November 15, 2012
|Rubinstein 'House of Learning'|
|Rochelle Rubinstein 'Tweed'|
Rubinstein's 'Tweed' And 'House of Learning' were works that were exhibited in Momento Mori, at the Sheridan Institute in Oakville, which was curated by Gareth Bate. To view more from both series and other works follow the following links:
Rochelle Rubinstein also is exhibiting at the Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre and the Gallery at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cutural Centre in Oakville from Nov. 2 - 18th.
Rochelle is also curating Common Tread international Exhibition at Mon Ton Window Gallery Nov. 9 - Dec. 1, 2012., see link: www.rochellerubinstein.com