It’s not every day that a museum or gallery show pulled entirely from past works comes together as well as the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal’s summer exhibition, Déjà – The Collection on Display. But how the show gels, thematically and aesthetically, isn’t due to similarities between the hundred-plus works on display, but due to their execution – almost all of the pieces conjure excitement about the process of creation, the thrill of what great art can do to inspire and move us…
It’s an eclectic mix chosen from among the 7600 pieces in the museum’s collection, coming from throughout the past century, from Quebec and Canadian greats, the American avant-garde, European modern masters, Asian artists pushing traditional boundaries, and beyond. In nine thematic segments that extend throughout the two blocks of the gallery, we see multidisciplinary artistic visions that have brought us to where we are today in the art world.
Among the painters and photographers are Claude Tousignant’s two grand, dark, perfect circles and Alain Paiement’s chaotic photographs of apartment interiors, among many other pieces that both honour and challenge the extent of what can be represented in two dimensions. In sculpture, David Altmejd’s giant Le Dentiste looms hairily next to Mario Merz’s iron and glass igloos, while Bruce Nauman’s Smoke Rings gives us new ideas about geometric form.
Installations range from the room-sized Dervish, by Gary Hill (so dark and quiet upon first entering, I almost jumped out of my skin when the art-machine started whirring away) and Ilya and Emilia Kabakov’s We Were in Kyoto (if you’re wondering where where all the confetti is coming from, look no further…), to Ann Hamilton’s swirling swaths of silk and Louise Bourgeois’s The Red Room – Child, made of wooden doors and housing strange objects.Music and our relationship to it is writ large in Pascal Grandmaison’s mirror-lined Solo and Jean-Pierre Gauthier’s seemingly antonymous piano. While video work from Shirin Neshat, Rodney Graham, Bill Viola surprise with subjects so life-like as to be jarring.
And, finally, downstairs in the Beverly Webster Rolph Hall, it’s time to sit down and be sonically and visually stimulated by the work of music-video maker and an artist in his own right, Louis Philippe Eno, whose kinetic, fantastical videos for Quebecois bands Malajube, Les Trois Accords, Plants and Animals, and many more, are showing until August 14.
Déjà – The Collection on Display, Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal, Until September 4, 2011
Photos Credits: MACM