Posted on November 1st, 2012 by .

The word “barbeau” may mean “scribble” in French, but as the current exhibition attests, Quebec legend Marcel Barbeau makes anything but…

There aren’t many galleries that play sweet jazz as you peruse the art, but the Galerie Lounge TD isn’t your ordinary gallery. On the second floor of the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan, on Sainte-Catherine Street in the Quartier des Spectacles, this gallery sits in the centre of Montreal’s musical scene.

Above the Jazz Fest space that hosts some of the world’s biggest music performers, half the art gallery is dedicated to a collection of popular Quebec art that’s for sale (there are pieces by famous artists like Armand Vaillancourt and Afred Pellan, as well as by musicians like Diane Dufresne), and the other half to solo exhibitions that usually relate to music.

The current solo boasts all recent works by local legend Barbeau, officer of the Order of Canada and a figurehead of the Quebec visual arts scene for close to seven decades now. The abstract painter, who developed the Automatist movement in the 1940s alongside founder Paul-Émile Borduas, presents a collection of 2011 and ‘12 canvases and works on paper featuring colour explosions, geometric compositions and rainbow-hued sunbursts.

And in homage to the locale, the curators take a new look at Barbeau’s career through the lens of music – examining movement, rhythm and harmony in his use of colour and line.

The idea of rhythm and syncopation prevails throughout the works on display, through their gestural expressionism and the pointillist brushstrokes that Barbeau is exploring these days. The idea of movement, though, is particularly evocative – in an National Film Board film that’s showing in the gallery space, titled Marcel Barbeau: Libre comme l’art, a dancer is asked to create movement with one of Barbeau’s large-scale metal sculptures.

Her actions really bring the sculpture to life, and shed a new light on the small sculptures that sit around the gallery; it’s as if the materials struck a pose, mid-dance, and have been frozen in time. After seeing the film, I could picture the painter, also, physically sparring with his canvases, paintbrush in hand, leaving his trace… I guess music was in the air, in more ways than one.

(PS- Admission is free!)


Marcel Barbeau: Movement, Rhythm and Harmony, Until December 23, 2012

Galerie Lounge TD, 305 Sainte-Catherine West, (514) 288-8882


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