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Season 2011 – 2012

Mary Hayes Princes and monsters: Recent Watercolours Michael MerrillEspace / Outer Space
Mimi Cabri & Ann Roberts Continuities Square Affair Art au carré a fundraising exhibition
Antonietta Grassi Rococo Jean-Pierre Larocque Sculptures céramique et dessins
David Lafrance Club de fête Catherine Bolduc Au milieu du monde (entre Mont Royal et mont Fuji
Annual Student Exhibition 2012 Ufuk Gueray The Unexamined Life
Mirana ZugerVrtlar

Mary Hayes Princes and monsters: Recent Watercolours

Vernissage: Thursday September 8 at 6 pm
Exhibition: September 6 to 24, 2011
Artist’s Talk: Thursday September 15 at 7 pm

Exhibition Press Release:

The McClure Gallery is pleased to open its fall season with an exhibition of recent watercolours by Montreal artist Mary Hayes. Princes and Monsters continues the artist’s ongoing preoccupation with the ‘costumed’ self. Hayes brings together interpretations of old master portraits, such as Velasquez’ study of Prince Philip, as well as archetypes from popular culture – ghosts, zombies and monsters. The images conflate, morph and mutate into both the macabre and tender, fluidly exploring the emotional range in between through an adroit, sensitive handling of the watercolour medium.

Approximately 25 works are featured in the exhibition. They represent a period of incubation for the artist; for several months Hayes worked in relative isolation, quarantined due a medical intervention. Cut off from her usual subjects – family, friends and neighbors – she turned to her books of Old Master paintings. The work of Da Vinci, Goya, Velazquez, Watteau and others became her source of inspiration. “I’ve always admired these paintings so I began to do studies in watercolour to better understand them. As I continued working, the paintings took on a life of their own.” She also searched the Internet for modern interpretations of the costumed figure. People dressed as Frankenstein’s monster, ghosts, princesses, and clowns became the subjects of dozens more portraits in watercolour. “I found it strangely intimate in its anonymity – people dress themselves in costumes and present these alternate identities to the world via the Internet.”

Princes and Monsters is an imaginative exploration of the ways in which we are simultaneously protected and transformed by our ritual attire and presentation. The works offer a psychologically haunting and poetic confrontation with issues of identity and self-awareness.

Born in California, Hayes has a BFA in Visual Arts from Concordia University. She was an Artist-in-Residence at the Parson’s School of Design in the Dominican Republic, has had several solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions across Quebec and Canada. She has received grants from both Quebec and Canada Arts Councils and her work can be found in private and public collections, such as the Art Bank of the Canada Council, Loto Québec, La Grande Bibliothèque du Québec and the Musée du Québec. Hayes lives and works in Montreal.

Michael Merrill Espace / Outer Space

Vernissage:Wednesday September 28 at 6 pm
Exhibition: September 29 to October 22, 2011
Artist’s Talk: Thursday October 6 at 7 pm

Exhibition Press Release:

Certain exhibitions are defined by a time and space specificity that is particularly resonant for a viewing audience; the artworks carry an immediacy of connection to our lived world, provoking new confluences of perception and meaning. Michael Merrill’s exhibition, Espace / Outer Space, carries such specificity and we are honoured to welcome it to our McClure Gallery.

Merrill’s recent series of ink wash drawings is part of a larger project – the mapping of the interior spaces of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). The drawings were completed intermittently while working on twelve gouache paintings (images of which are included here) on view at the MMFA as of September 2011.

The drawings conflate the lucid, perspectival precision of Merrill’s paintings with something specific to the ink medium. A fluid world of tonal nuance, as emotional as it is visual, undulates inside and over the drawing’s fine linear armature. We do not so much stand in front of these works as swim in their presence; their lyrical ebbs and flows and watery pools demand corporeal engagement, flooding the senses, leaning close up against us. With their visual poetry etched in our minds, a visit to the MMFA’s exhibition of paintings is lent a more layered understanding, as if the artist whispered in our ear – “This is how I perceive and negotiate the world.”

A bilingual catalogue, including 40 colour reproductions and texts by Marie-Ève Charron and James D. Campbell, has been published to accompany the exhibition. We would like to thank the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for their generous funding of the catalogue as well as Roger Bellemare and JoAnn Meade for for additional contributions.

Michael Merrill was born in Montreal, and has been painting and exhibiting since 1975. He has a diploma from the School of Art and Design of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Merrill has exhibited nationally and internationally, and has recently shown in Cologne, Germany, and at the inaugural Québec Triennial, organized by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal in 2008. While Espace/Outer Space shows at the McClure, Merrill’s exhibition of gouache paintings, Espace intérieur/Inner Space, is concurrently on exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as of September 2011. Merrill continues to paint and draw the modern world. He is represented by Galerie Roger Bellemare/Galerie Christian Lambert, Montreal.

Mimi Cabri & Ann Roberts Continuities

Vernissage: Thursday October 27 at 6 pm
Exhibition: October 28 to November 18

Exhibition Press Release:

The McClure Gallery is pleased to welcome celebrated ceramic artists Mimi Cabri and Ann Roberts in the exhibition, Continuities. Both artists began their early careers as members of the Potters’ Club, the ceramic beginnings of the Visual Arts Centre. To mark the Centre’s 65th anniversary they return to Montreal with unique bodies of work whose sensibilities range from Cabri’s evocative flair for colour and embellishment to Robert’s imaginative explorations of myth in the everyday.

Mimi Cabri’s sculptural ceramics are unorthodox, celebratory and rich in physicality. Her images of nudes, snakes and birds, drawn, painted and sculpted in clay, recall a riotous kind of Dionysion Garden of Eden. Switching from stoneware to earthenware in 1986 upon seeing the “intoxicating” colours in the stained glass windows of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral, Cabri has ever since incorporated rich hues in her work as she explores themes that celebrate dance, song and a mythic fusion of human and animal worlds. Whether vase or free standing female statues, the voluptuous forms are full of exaggerated arabesques and curves matched with a dexterous, sensuous and sometimes humourous use of expressive drawing to further embellish the clay surface. Born in Johannesburg South Africa, Cabri immigrated to Canada in the 60s. Her career as a clay artist began at the Potters’ Club. Inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2003, the artist is well known in the Ottawa area. Her pieces are in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilisation, the City of Ottawa’s Fine Art Collection, The Canada Council Art Bank, and available commercially at Lafreniere and Pai Gallery.

Ann Roberts’ clay work brings together fragments of myth, art history and the everyday. Whether taking recourse to a realistic or abstract aesthetic, the works express a singularity of voice that is at once powerful and contemplative. Like Cabri’s, Roberts’ ceramic sculpture is handbuilt. “The feel of clay is beguiling and friendly,” notes the artist, “a rhythmic interplay of hands speaking to each other through a thin wall of clay.” Women assume a central focus, both as themselves but also as symbols of deeper forces in nature.. Roberts seeks to find in the vestiges of ancient myth contemporary humanistic equivalents. Her sculptural forms, reflecting this symbiosis of old and new, classic and contemporary, bear a profoundly poetic sensibility. Also South African born, Roberts immigrated to Canada in 1960. After working at the Potters’ Club in Montreal for a number of years, where she also held the presidency, she moved to the Waterloo Region to help found the Clay and Glass Museum of Waterloo. She also taught fine arts at the University of Waterloo. In February 2012, Roberts celebrates a 50 years retrospective exhibition at the Clay and Glass Museum. Her work can be found in many private and public collections.

Square Affair Art au carré a fundraising exhibition

Gala and opening sale: Thursday, November 23 at 6 pm
Exhibition: November 22 to 26, 2011

Exhibition Press Release:

To celebrate our 65th Anniversary, we’re filling our McClure Gallery with hundreds of Square Foot paintings and artworks created by the Centre’s dynamic community of artists, students, teachers, staff and friends.
Whether as participating artist or supportive friend, we hope you’ll join us in this fun and celebratory event. The exhibition represents a rare opportunity to view and purchase affordable art in a wide variety of styles and media – all in a square format.
A $25 ticket to the Gala Evening entitles you to first dibs on the art plus wine and hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are available in the office.
Please come and support us. As Canada’s largest bilingual independent art school and as a non-profit cultural space, our fundraising exhibitions are an important means of ensuring our financial well-being and our ability to continue to offer accessible and excellent programmes and services to the public.

Antonietta Grassi Rococo

Vernissage: Thursday, December 1 at 6 pm
Exhibition: December 2 to 21, 2011

Exhibition Press Release:
The McClure Gallery is pleased to feature Rococo, an exhibition of large format paintings by Montreal artist Antonietta Grassi. This new series of works shows the artist moving into new territory, flirting with representational metaphors and tempting close encounters with “the beautiful.” But Grassi holds back, tempering her flirtations with rococo curvilinear flair with a rigour of paint application and a nuanced exploration of beauty’s darker side.

While Grassi’s earlier work represented a modernist, feminist exploration of the everyday, pitching a spare minimalist against a questing mark, the new work bears the weight of struggle, a kind of painterly stalking of some recalcitrant metaphor. While at first glance the works recall Monet’s water lilies and ponds, closer viewing delivers less familiar revelations: the detritus of flowers, garlands, strange congestions of petals and branches strewn in some liminal space between nature – water – and the human psyche. The images, with their multi-layered references to both rococo style and oriental ritual – erupt onto the lushly painted surfaces as if from unconscious depths, resonating through a range of emotions. Grassi’s new work is both poignant and edged.

The exhibition catalogue includes a text by art writer Patricia Quill, which speaks eloquently to Grassi’s visual exploration of the very human themes of loss and death.

Antonietta Grassi works and lives in Montreal. She has had numerous solo and group exhibitions across Canada and Europe. She has participated in notable shows on contemporary abstract painting such as Peinture Peinture organized by Galerie Rene Blouin and Liliane Rodriguez in Montreal, Peintures de genres: L’ actualité de la peinture abstraite au Québec in Lyon, France, Drawing Now at the Boston Center for the Arts, Hommage to Yves Gaucher at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, and, L’Abstraction: une maniere de voir, at the Musée du Québec. Her more recent solo exhibitions include Babble and other coded language (2002) at Liliane Rodriguez, Mots Perdus (2005) at Galerie Esthesio in Quebec City, and Langsacpes (2009) at the Warren G. Flowers Gallery in Montreal.

Jean-Pierre Larocque Sculptures céramique et dessins

Vernissage: Thursday, January 12 at 6 pm
Exhibition: January 6 to 28, 2012
Artist’s Talk: Thursday, January 19 at 7 pm

Exhibition Press Release:

The McClure Gallery opens the 2012 season with an exhibition of works by artist Jean Pierre Larocque.  The show includes drawings – both large and small format works on paper – and clay sculpture – full size figures, heads and several wall pieces. Evident in all the work, regardless of medium, is the artist’s ongoing exploration of inter-related themes that have at their center the human condition. The obvious hands-on manipulation of materials, the textured layers, the play of light on form, all speak to the artist’s need to push the boundaries of the representational – to glean from the palpable, something other.

Despite the profound technical mastery needed to create clay sculpture of such complexity and size, Larocque’s method of working is intuitive. As pieces develop, he moves, removes and moves again slabs and strips of clay and experiments with glazes, always open to accident and chance. Similarly in the drawings, the rendering of heads or bodies involves defining and obscuring, drawing and erasing.  What is evoked is a sense of recollection or memory on the threshold of consciousness, a poetic dimension fragile and in flux. Moreover, the recurring image of bandaged heads and ragged clothing, as if we are burdened down by the weight of existence, or, conversely, the more recent series of heads seemingly stripped down to a more primal essence, suggest a kind of apocryphal time of being or psychological state.  The strength of Larocque’s work is that while it expresses a sense of transformation, vulnerability, an open-endedness that invites engagement and self-recognition, it simultaneously claims such physicality and corporeal presence.

Jean Pierre Larocque is currently Chair of Ceramics at Concordia University.  He holds a BFA from Concordia and an MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. He has taught at numerous universities throughout the United States including Alfred University and the California State University at Long Beach. Over the past twenty years, he has participated in many solo and group exhibitions in Canada and the United States. On the occasion of the reopening of Toronto’s Gardiner Museum in 2006, Larocque’s work was selected for the inaugural solo exhibition. Works by Larocque feature in the collections of many museums such as the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and the Museum of Art and Design in New York.

David Lafrance Club de fête

Vernissage: Thursday, February 2 at 6 pm
Exhibition: February 3 to 25, 2012
Artist’s Talk: Thursday, February 9 at 7 pm

Exhibition Press Release:

The McClure Gallery is pleased to feature the work of Montreal artist David Lafrance in the exhibition Club de fête. The exhibition includes medium to large format oil paintings as well as smaller works in watercolour that continue to explore the constellation of themes and images for which the artist is known – landscapes stewn with signs of human ritual and presence, an odd coming together of exhilaration and menace, exoticism and the naive. The new body of work also bears witness to a deepening mastery of painterly means.

It is a truism in literature that the most universal of themes are mined deep in the strata of the local. Like a good novel then, David Lafrance’s work is riven with the lusts and tribulations of his quotidian experience and childhood recollections. Unlike a novel, however, there is no beginning, middle or end; the flat surface of canvas allows a simultaneity of unfolding and disclosure. We read the broken landscape with its strange foliage, aberrant masks, architectural structures and cultural signifiers of an urban underground – sometimes privy to their meaning, sometimes not. One imagines Lafrance like a wandering woodsman/flaneur gathering scattered artifacts and detritus on his daily rounds. He returns to the studio, takes off his boots, sets up his easel and begins to transcribe, invent, imagine in paint, the tale of his sojourn – a poetic but no less existential quest for balance and authenticity.

The exhibition catalogue offers insightful texts by Robert Enright and Jean-Philippe Gagnon as well as 23 colour reproductions of Lafrance’s work. The McClure Galelry would like to thank the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for their financial support for the publication and Galerie Dominique Bouffard for their additional contribution.

David Lafrance was born in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. He is a graduate of Concordia University’s drawing and painting program (2001), where he received the Guido Molinari Prize for his academic achievement. Lafrance’s references vary widely and range from folk art from across the world to modern painting to contemporary fashion. He has a particular interest in depicting the natural world and modern society’s pursuit of pleasures and luxuries. His recent work in painting, drawing and sculpture is shown in Canada and the United-States. David Lafrance also performs experimental electronic music with turntables, pedals and recorders. He is represented by Galerie Dominique Bouffard in Montreal.

Catherine Bolduc Au milieu du monde (entre Mont Royal et mont Fuji

Vernissage: Thursday, March 1 at 6 pm
Exhibition: March 2 to 24, 2012
Artist’s Talk: Thursday, March 8 at 7 pm

Exhibition Press Release:

The McClure Gallery is pleased to present the works of artist Catherine Bolduc in the exhibition Au milieu du monde (entre le mont Royal et mont Fuji). The exhibition brings together a series of sculptural works and drawings depicting imaginary landscapes coming into being. The works capture mountains becoming marvelous fictions under the influence of time and distance.

Bolduc notes,  “Whenever I travel to a foreign country, I reflect a lot on the difference between what I had imagined the place would be like and what it is actually like once you get there. . . I also reflect on how, along with this sense of deception, the effect of both time and distance transform our memories.  Certain details are willingly erased, while others are vividly embellished.” The exhibition Au milieu du monde (entre Mont Royal et mont Fuji) presents a series of works created as an echo to the artist’s experience while travelling. “On a recent trip to Japan, I discovered that Mount Fuji, about which I had dreamt for several weeks, was hidden most of the time behind a mysterious veil of fog. While living close to Mount Fuji, on the other side of the world, I started dreaming of Mount Royal which suddenly became distant, exotic, fantastic. As in a mirror reflection, I saw in my imagination the silhouette of Mount Royal as symetrical, diametrically opposed to that of Mount Fuji; I found myself in a world in between the orient and occident, east and west.”

The new series of works presented in the McClure Gallery follow from earlier work created in Japan, entitled, My Life as a Japanese Story, a kind of auto fiction in which Bolduc projects herself as a heroin of Manga into an imagined and fantastical Japan.  Both series bear witness to the artist’s ongoing preoccupation with the ways in which we construct reality, projecting our desires and transgressing reality with the fabricated wonders of the psyche.

Catherine Bolduc lives and works in Montreal. She received her Masters in Visual and Media Arts from the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2005.  Her work has been shown in many artist run centres and galleries in Canada as well as abroad in Germany, Spain and Norway.  She is the recipient of many awards from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and is represneted by SAS Gallery in Montreal.

Annual Student Exhibition 2012

Vernissage: Thursday March 31 at 6 pm
Exhibition: April 1 to 21, 2012

Exhibition Press Release:

Students registered in the School of Art’s winter session are invited to exhibit their work in our Annual Student Exhibition. The exhibition, which includes hundreds of works in a wide variety of media, gives students the experience of seeing their work in the context of a professional gallery. It also provides an opportunity for students and public to see the great diversity of creative activity that takes place at the Centre.

Ufuk Gueray The Unexamined Life

Vernissage: Thursday May 3rd at 6 pm
Exhibition: May 4 to 26, 2012

Exhibition Press Release:

The McClure Gallery is pleased to present The Unexamined Life, an exhibition of recent paintings by Ufuk Gueray. Gueray’s depicted world is littered with abandoned buildings, mutant plant life, and painterly debris. Driverless monster trucks rev their engines, but they are machines without purpose: they drive from A to B, but accomplish nothing.

The exhibition at the McClure Gallery will include over a dozen large, medium and small scale oil paintings on canvas. The garishly coloured wasteland of Gueray’s paintings is without ideology, without ethics: it is the home of directionless, mindless, and ultimately useless power.With no aim other than self-perpetuation, the power invoked in his paintings has nothing to do but revel in its own nihilistic energy. A spectacle without an audience, the post-apocalyptic life in Gueray’s painting is unreflective, unexamined, and thus, according to Socrates’s famous formulation, not worth living. But there is something attractive in all this decadent futility. This is reflected in the materiality of the work, where the allure of high gloss varnish is pitted against the stubborn inertness of a matt finish, and thick and goopy paint confronts insidious colour. The material spectacle generates a prolific and gritty beauty that both evokes the threat of unexamined power, and takes pleasure in the spectacle of ungovernable energy.

Ufuk Gueray was born in Herrenberg, Germany, and has lived in Germany, Canada and Scotland. He graduated with a BFA in Studio Art and French Studies from Concordia University in 2005, and obtained an MFA in Fine Art from the Glasgow School of Art in 2009. He received funding from the Student Award Agency for Scotland from 2007 to 2009, and was an artist in residence at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture in Dawson City in the fall of 2010. His work has been exhibited in Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Mirana Zuger Vrtlar

Vernissage: Thursday May 31 at 6 pm
Exhibition: June 1 to 23, 2012
Artist’s Talk: Thursday, June 7 at 7 pm

Exhibition Press Release:

The McClure Gallery is pleased to present Vrtlar, an exhibition of recent work by Mirana Zuger. The exhibition includes both drawings and paintings ranging from small to large format and is accompanied by a catalogue of over 45 images with an essay by curator and writer James D. Campbell as well as an appreciation by artist Françoise Sullivan.

Mirana Zuger is prolific. She has developed and continues to evolve a personal iconography embedded within abstract fields that range from the most minimal and cryptic to the very expressive and painterly. Zuger works this range with a honed knowledge of her materials and is specific in her choice for each painting – “Chalkboard paint asks for palimpsests and erased brushwork. Rabbit skin glue preserves the look and texture of raw canvas.” In the drawings, too, we sense that only paper could welcome her fine pencil markings, which seem tentative yet resolutely committed to their own internal necessity. Lines lead to sudden congestions of colour – a halfway house in which to rest, alternately, an emotional cluster to unravel. While the works impact forcefully upon the senses with their celebratory colour and dynamic armature of interlacing shapes, they do not reveal themselves quickly or fortuitously.

Mirana Zuger was born in Canada in 1982, of Croatian and French-Canadian heritage. She graduated with distinction from Concordia University’s Fine Arts Program in Montréal in 2005. Zuger has exhibited in Croatia, the U.S and Canada, where her work has been included in both public and private collections.

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