You can’t help but notice Melanie Authier’s vivid pinks and magentas that are on the far right when you enter the latest exhibit, The Phoenix Art: The Renewed Life of Contemporary Painting, at Galerie Simon Blais. Walk around the corner and you will quickly feel the onslaught of Jeremy Hof’s vibrant discs. Saunter down the corridor at the back and you can savour the aurora borealis colour scheme in Melanie Rocan’s Traine. This is a look into contemporary painting today and the view is bright.
Martin Golland’s architectural paintings pit vibrant colour palettes against dramatic angles that can make banal views seem majestic. Signal to Signal situates the viewer at the bottom of a staircase looking steeply up at a three verandas stacked in a tapering fashion on top of one another, a point of view that evokes images of the Imperial Palaces in China. An orange sky envelops the stately white building that is punctuated by bright blues and yellows, which add balance and depth.
Rocan’s Gone to Flowers also uses a dramatic sky to offset her field of blossoms and disembodied heads. These anonymous faces, whose eyes are covered by the heads of flowers, lurk behind and within the plants in a very inconspicuous fashion. While the flora is painted brightly, the sky is very sombre with greyish blues. First impressions may be that the celestial sphere belies the earthly setting, but the discovery of the heads certainly changes the tone of the piece.
One of the more interesting explorations in materials on display is Mark Igloliorte’s series of oil paintings on Plexiglas. Seven Posed with Boat shows the silhouettes of figures paddling in long kayaks. These blue and grey works have an added fog effect that results from the semi-translucence of the cloudy polymer seeping through the thin layers of paint. The various studies also displayed are smaller, greyer and the surface paint is less uniform, which gives them even more of a ghostly effect.
Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline’s Rot Samba and Wreath are departures from the dramatic hues seen in many of the other works. His paintings have a more subdued character. They look like neglected works from the Renaissance. A certain progress of decay has set in and you can’t make out what exactly is represented in the paintings, but you try. You end up playing a puzzle game without all the pieces.
There are 10 Canadian artists displaying more than 20 artworks that were created specifically for this show. The exhibit was curated by Robert Enright (art critic and editor-at-large of Border Crossing) and it aims to demonstrate that “painting is not dead,” but flourishing. The variety of techniques, engaging styles and attention-grabbing paints take viewers on an electrifying tour of contemporary painting, one that will assure you of the vivacious state of the art.
The exhibit runs until December 24 at Galerie Simon Blais, 5420 St. Laurent Blvd., Suite 100. The gallery is open from 10 am to 6 pm.