Cult classics: on the walls in 2012

Cult‘s coverage of some of the most fascinating artists and shows of 2012: Dominique Pétrin, Jonathan Bergeron, Max Wyse and Winnie Truong, ABC:MTL at the CCA and galleries galore from the annual Under Pressure street art fest.

Image of invisible radio waves over the city by Electrosmog. Image courtesy of the CCA.

Jonathan Bergeron

Tracey Lindeman talked to Jonathan Bergeron, aka Johnny Crap, at the outset of his solo exhibit at Yves Laroche gallery. Bergeron’s dreamy surrealist paintings are beautiful  so much so that it’s easy to miss the lingering sense of doom that accompanies these post-apocalyptic images.

The post-apocalyptic world according to Jonathan Bergeron is a crumbling wasteland almost entirely void of human existence — and that’s the good news. Lueurs, his new solo show at Yves Laroche, translates directly to “a faint light” — a ray of hope, perhaps, “but not necessarily for us,” Bergeron says. The 12 paintings and six or seven drawings the artist prepared for this exhibition are all steeped in a surrealism inspired by the movement’s master, Salvador Dalí. Bergeron’s canvases show stilts propping up precariously perched land masses and jagged cliffs on which people once lived — but now, house windows are boarded up, snapped telephone wires sway in nothingness and overgrown vegetation swallows up what wasn’t first lost in the presumed reckoning.

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Under Pressure

Montreal’s annual Under Pressure festival packs in as much street art, hip-hop, skateboarding, tricked-out rides and hip kids as our fair city’s downtown can handle. Cult had all hands on deck to document it: check out Allison Staton’s killer pics of the festival’s street style, or head straight to her graffiti gallery. Darcy Macdonald was also on hand, covering the fest with his adorable daughter Mélodie.

The fact is that Under Pressure doesn’t get enough respect at home. It is laughable how often I hear entitled types criticize and take UP for granted, even as it grows right in front of their noses. So I wanna send a personal thank you to folks at UP for keeping us entertained, informed and honest, especially the painters. The top-to-bottom volunteer participation and fair funding that keeps the UP walls colourful deserve fortification.


Winnie Truong and Max Wyse

Rachel Levine checked out a show by youngish artists Winnie Truong and Max Wyse, presented at Galérie Trois Points. The artists’ aesthetics were complementary, both combining cute and scary.

The women of Winnie Truong’s colourful drawings give new meaning to bad hair days. The portraits by this Toronto-based artist are far less about the doll-like faces than about the fantastic riot of hair. It is as if Vidal Sasson was given the opportunity to coif Marie Antoinette with hair stretches, twists, bows and braids in a rainbow of colors in defiance of physics and gravity.

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Dominique Pétrin

Former Les Georges Leningrad frontwoman and multi-media artist Dominique Pétrin had shows, exhibits, installations and performances pretty much non-stop throughout 2012. Chandra Murdoch talked to the prolific and insanely creative powerhouse about a few upcoming works including covering the entire facade of Katacombes with printed paper and her approach to making art.

Going big is increasingly part of her work, she says, because “it it affects you on a physical level so it’s impossible to think, it’s so overwhelming.” Constructing large projects like Palazzo II or her ongoing show at Arprim, GALA, means “playing with optical effects in order to create installations that are wall to ceiling, that really affect the perception to the point of destabilizing.”

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ABC:MTL at the CCA

The ongoing ABC:MTL exhibit at the CCA brings a variety of contributors and approaches to the study of the city, presenting a series of talks, exhibits, workshops and cultural events. The show will shift and change over the course of several months to continuously forge new connections between different facets of local cultural life. Emily Raine talked to the exhibit’s curators about the project’s first phase, and got a preview of what’s in store as ABC:MTL evolves.

The exhibit marks a new approach for the CCA. “Usually research projects before exhibits take two to four years, so they’re full-fledged, comprehensive research projects that are then shaped into the form of an exhibition and a publication,” says Simon Pennec, the Centre’s curatorial coordinator. For this exhibit, however, the gallery instead turned to an open call for contributions, in order “to allow the public to let the city speak for itself” and avoid “trying to shape a comprehensive notion of Montreal.”

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