This week I attended the Cégep de Saint-Laurent’s exhibition of Visual Art students and I was taken aback by the quality of work on display. These young students produced work on par with any University graduate in Montreal and they had clarity of vision and message that was utterly remarkable.
Work ranged from classic painting and collage, installations to conceptual and what gave these students’ work the special touch were the concepts and ideas being communicated. The social and political statements these works make are very current and understandable igniting sparks of inspiration in the viewers.
Some of the artists exhibited take a more relaxed approach to their art, and music, films and fiction can be seen as influencing their work. They are fun and contemporary and remind us that not all art should be about serious political matters, they can evoke a sense of wittiness that can sometimes be forsaken in today’s art.
First artwork I want to praise is Marion Paquette’s “La Réserve” which for me represented a Native American Tipi made out of paper and strings and inside on a tapestry flooring there was a red petrol canister ready for igniting. This work is so politically charged that one cannot escape the notion that the message deserves our attention. The suffering of the natives by the hands of the settlers has been well documented, and some scars will never heal as long as people of those communities live at a disadvantage caused by historical events.
What makes this work in particular more potent is the fact that the petrol canister which is ready to produce fire is a modern one, not made up of woods that would in olden days keep the inhabitants warm during cold nights; this fire source is far more menacing and can result in burning down of the Tipi. The danger lurking for our forgotten communities is being ignited from within, and I cannot help associate this danger with addiction to alcohol and drug consumption that has put so many people in harm’s way.
“Fondu” by Ann Karine Bourdeau Leduc is a very modern and interesting take on the art of painting, and it deserves praise here for its innovative quality. In this work two elements in the art of painting have come together to produce an astonishing piece. The shape of each section in the piece is irregular and unconventional, and the artist has decided to use a black background with colors dripping up, down and side to side to give it a very liquid and fluctuating feel. To make it more mechanically fluid the artist has decided to attach the different sections together like a collage and if look long enough and the pieces start to move around one another like the arms of a clock.
Medeleine Zoe and Gabeil Robitaille have given us “TEMPS D’OURS” a painting that I can easily see in a museum of modern art. From a technical aspect the portrait in flawless, the dimensions and alignments are just right and produce a recognizable sorrowful gaze in the face of a man who is somewhat threatening at the same time. The choice of colors in the painting is just incredible, the greens and blues in the face of the man give him a cold sick look, contrasted with the reddish eyes which accompanied by the frowned eyebrows produce that angry feel. The choice of dark red for the man’s clothes also confirms this rage with a hint of passion.
The final work I want to talk about, although there are so many more that should be examined and commended and in my opinion will be in the future, is again by Marion Paquette “La Revolution du système pileux”. This piece can be seen as a feminist conceptual work playing with the idea of hair especially when it comes to women and perception of hair for women throughout history. The box in the piece has been filled with long hair which can only be referring to that of a head; however in the photographs which are hanging from the ropes attached to the box, we see hair from different areas including pubic hair. The relationship of hair with sex has always been an issue in society, mainly due to the religious notion that women’s hair is a source of arousal. In all modern religions, at times of worship or when working in an holy place like a church women have been required to cover their hair or wear artificial hair. Even today, in some countries, women’s hair must be covered with scarves as not to provoke sexual temptations, presumably because men would lose their faith in God and be compelled to think of sex. From cosmetics, to businesses thriving in dying, removing, waxing, cutting, styling… hair has come to dictate how we view women in a society and it all stems from a very dark place in our history.