Register Monday | June 24 | 2019

After Babel

Maisonneuve's visual art sampler

Thanks to the nearly 600 people who joined us Thursday, March 13th at the Contemporary Art Gallery for Maisonneuve's launch of Issue No. 3. It was a tremendous success and we appreciate the support and kind words (see Maisonneuve Makes It in the Montreal Gazette). The showcased artworks appeared in the "After Babel" visual arts section of the magazine.

"Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth." - Genesis 11:9

Language is born at the foot of the Tower of Babel - a divisive force sent to keep humanity in its place. In Montreal, language has long been a volatile issue, at times practically a Berlin Wall. There is, however, another aspect to the myth of Babel: humans who understand one another and work in unison can scale the heavens. Visual art, more than any other art, speaks across languages. Contemporary visual art is often labeled a failure - too abstract, too academic, incomprehensible - but the images that follow suggest the promise in the ancient myth. Each artist uses a different language, yet the words they speak are lucid and clear. Here, diverse purposes join together to produce work of the highest achievement. Life "after Babel" can be a vigorous, many-tongued thing.

Paul Rogic, Tempus Fugit, 2000. Steel, courtesy of Zeke's Gallery.
Paul Rogic, African Woman Giving Birth, 1999. Steel, courtesy of Zeke's Gallery.
Paul Rogic, Labiate corolla, 2000. Series of 8. Steel, courtesy of Zeke's Gallery.
Paul Rogic, Pyrrhosoma Nymphula, 1999. Series of 8. Steel, courtesy of Zeke's Gallery.

Paul Rogic is a self-taught artist. He lives and works in Laval, pounding and transforming scraps of metal into whimsical steel structures. Tempus Fugit is made up of thousands of metal triangles, which were cut, folded and welded to form the skin of this giant creature. 

Peter G.-Ray, Desire, 2001. Acrylic on canvas, 30" x 35", with the kind permission of Galerie d'Arts Contemporains.

Bulgarian-born Peter G.-Ray is a painter, sculptor, writer and director. Ray paints not just on canvas, but also on furniture and other objects. His style has been considered a synthesis of Salvador Dali and Jackson Pollock. Ray lives and works in Montreal. 

Marcel Theriault, Galerie de Babel, 2001. Acrylic on canvas, 45" x 57", with the kind permission of Marcel Tetreault.

Montrealer Marcel Theriault delights in combining symbolism and surrealism in work heavily influenced by Argentinean author Jorge Luis Borges. Galerie de Babel portrays the Library of Babel, in which Borges envisions a library containing all possible books. Theriault studied fine art at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal. His work has appeared in Montreal and Toronto galleries, and permanently graces the artotheque in Montreal. 

Richard Morin, Volatile Rouge, 2001. Oil on canvass, 90" x 54", with the kind permission of Galerie Simon Blais.

Richard Morin studied scenography in Canada and worked in stage painting, drawing and maquillage in Paris, collaborating with Cirque du Soleil and Grands Ballets Canadiens on numerous productions. "I seek to reconcile opposites ... spontaneity and precision, the mysterious and the obvious, the instantaneity of gestural painting and patient rendering of figuration, the flow of the background brush strokes and the definition of traits and contours." 

Carlos & Jason Sanchez, Red Dress, 2001. C. print, 40" x 49".

Employing a cinematic approach, Carlos and Jason Sanchez script the decisive moment. They spend months carefully crafting each image - sifting through prop houses and scrap yards, scouting locations, casting actors. Nothing is digitally manipulated and they shoot only when satisfied with every detail. Their work is as much about the process as it is about the final product.

Kevin Sonmor, Pose XII, the Beginner, 2001. Oil on canvass, 102" x 128", courtesy of Galerie de Bellefeuille.

Born in Alberta, Kevin Sonmor now lives in Montreal. He earned his MFA at Concordia University in Montreal and has studied at the Alberta College of Art and The Banff Centre. Sonmor uses glazes and impasto to create a varied viscosity of surface. Paint is applied with brush or palette knife, scraped off and reapplied. These diverse rhythms of thickness and delicacy of paint give his work richness of both precision and spontaneity.

Lucie Robert, Doubles: Fee, 2001. Ink on paper, courtesy of Occurrence.

Lucie Robert has had seven individual shows, including one in Tokyo in 1996, and has participated in a dozen group exhibits in Quebec and Ontario. Her "Twin" series connects two human forms: an initial body is drawn with ink, and a second form - a phantom, a shade? - is created with a simple transparent wash, pulling ink from the first. Initially physical, these qualities begin to take on a psychological resonance. Robert also uses a sewing machine to create spines or axes for her "doubled" forms.