Here are five of my favourites. The best part? You can learn as you look- friendly gallerists will give you insider tips and explanations.
[DARLING FOUNDRY]: A ‘must-see’ for art lovers, this former foundry (pictured above) shows the most cutting edge art in town. Kelly Mark’s video, Public Disturbances: take 1/ take 2/ take 3, 2010, seems innocuous enough when you enter the massive room where the film is playing: then you hear the shouting. A couple, played by professional actors, acts out a conversation from a popular film. It is totally hypnotic, like watching a soap opera – but better!
In the other rooms at the Darling, I loved L’espace au mileu/ The Space Between by the Ælab collective. The “space between” is the zone between us and the cosmos. The first room shows an image taken from a NASA space craft. This colour photo is the source for the theme. It shows earth and the cosmos – and the zone in between. The next 3 rooms carry out this motif. Semi-darkness is all around, so your senses are heightened. It is totally worth the trip to this out-of-the-way innovative centre.
INSIDER TIP: Ask the receptionist for a free tour of the Ælab show.
FREE: On Thursday nights, entrance is free until 10 p.m.
STAY AWHILE: Stay to sup at Cluny Art Bar, right in the gallery. Meet art aficionados, models, art directors and families in this eclectically delicious space.
[RED FLAG - CHINESE CONTEMPORARY ART] (FREE!): This is my favourite show in town- amazing and great fun! Contemporary Chinese art is one of the hottest fields in today’s international art market. In the lower level (LS2) at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, you can view some of the best Chinese contemporary artists chosen from private Montreal collections. While you are there, wander around the contemporary art gallery. It’s on the same level. The Earth is Blue Like an Orange features works by artists from all over the world.
INSIDER TIP: LS2 Red Flag and the contemporary art galleries have free admittance at all times.
STAY AWHILE: Grab an expresso in the Museum Boutique or take a lunch break at the Museum’s restos: Bistro or the Collectionneur. (Both open for dinner only on Wednesday nights.)
[BELGO BUILDING]: This is the go-to place for hot, emerging artists as well as established contemporary artists. An old office building, it is now converted into Soho-style galleries. Here are some of my favourites:
Galerie Donald Browne (Suite 528 – 5th floor): Reduced Performing by artist Suzy Lake (pictured above). Her 6 life-size photos are strangely one-dimensional. They could be atavars, or contemporary Barbies. Each photo is actually a performance. Suzy lies under a scanner, and simply breathes, or blinks: hence the ‘reduced performing’. The digital method for the photo separates her movement into 3 colours, so you can literally ‘see’ the slight motions. Utterly minimal, the photos are fascinating portraits by this artist who has greatly influenced photography in Quebec.
Galerie Pierre François Ouellette (Suite 216 – 2nd floor): Marie-Chrystine Landry’s show Passages ouverts is the artist’s vision of the land. A sculptor from Sainte-Hélène-de-Kamouraska, she is surrounded by the massive magnificence of Quebec’s landscapes, which she has reduced to little abstract wall-mounted wooden pieces. Her miniatures are minimal post cards from the hedge.
Louis Boudreault (Suite 424 – 4th floor): Louis Boudreault paints portraits. Ghandi, Picasso, Walt Disney, Marilyn Monroe and other famous – and infamous – heads float hauntingly on layers of tightly-bound paper. Each is of a renowned personage. I loved his lyrical celebrity renderings – all in subtle colours. Rush to see his work. His next shows are in Hong Kong and Paris.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Closed Mondays), 1380 Sherbrooke Street West
Belgo Building (Galleries open Tuesday through Saturday), 372 Saint-Catherine Street West
Darling Foundry (Open Wednesday through Sunday, Noon – 7 pm), 745 Ottawa Street