Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Marie-Claire Blais @ Galérie René Blouin

This past weekend, Michele and I visited Papier 15, an art fair showcasing 40 Canadian galleries, focused on works on paper: photography, prints, sculpture, drawing and painting. Associated with this event was the Art Hop, organized by the Canadian Art Foundation. One of the galleries on the Art Hop was a real find.

Showing at Galérie René Blouin, 10 King Street in Old Montreal, are works by Marie-Claire Blais. Not the well-known Québecoise author, the gallery owner was quick to clarify.
Trained as an architect, Blais now works full-time as a visual artist. Her current solo show, which ends June 6, shows materials-based work. The pieces pictured here measure anywhere from 40 inches to more than 100 inches in width. They are made from burlap, which the artist hand-dyed in subtle shadings of charcoal and black. The patterns were created by thread-pulling, the careful snipping and precise removal of vertical threads in the fabric.

While her earlier hangings are draped loosely, more recently they are hung stiffly, forming crisp rectangles against the wall.

Included in the show is sculptural work, again made of burlap but this time coated with plaster and shaped into free-standing forms. Not shown here are large works in plaster on board. While the plaster is still wet, Blais drags a wide, purpose-built wooden "comb" upward over the plaster, creating ridges which appear as irregular vertical lines, white-on-white.

I have seen a good deal of contemporary art in the last few weeks, much of it as part of the Séminarts program offered through the Musée d'Art Contemporain. I find I am especially drawn to those works that are materials-based, like these by Blais. Rather than an image being the focus of the work, the viewer is drawn in to see how the material is manipulated in unexpected ways. Many contemporary works in textiles and paper would fit into this category.

No comments: