Parisian Laundry, the contemporary art space in southwest Montreal, has an exciting show. One artist uses childhood memories to juxtapose macho and feminine symbols; the other offers powerful prism-like paintings. The Parisian Laundry building used to be, yes, a laundry company! Today, the beautiful, light-filled space hosts contemporary art Tuesdays through Saturdays.
‘Grandpa used to wash my hands with gasoline’ is the title of Clint Neufeld’s show at Parisian Laundry.) I loved it! Lounging around on tables and chairs are 15 large car transmissions and 2 engines. But, wow, what engines. Possible the ultimate machismo symbol (Grand Prix here we come!), the pieces are, however, gleaming ceramics – like teacups! Nothing here is even suggestive of the oily, dirty mechanics of a real car engine. Furthering this disconnect are the little flowers and appliqués that embellish each piece. The shapes may be masculine symbols, but the work itself seems, well, feminine, even delicate. As china figurines would have rested on ‘’my grandmother’s end table’’, so Clint’s enigmatic engines sit prettily on a table, or a chair. Why the strange title? He explained that when he was a child, his grandfather, a WW1 vet, would break through his aloofness to wash car grease, or paint off his grandson’s hands, ‘’with gasoline.’’ He recalls this beau geste as one of caring love. I was dying to pick up one of the seductive sculptures, with their hugely mixed message. They looked so massive. But, they were amazingly light! What you see, is not always what you get. Run down and admire these entirely elegant engines.
Jason Gringler is showing in the basement of the Parisian Laundry, affectionately and officially referred to as ‘the Bunker’. Ironically, the words in the title, Post-Mortem Transmission, seem to echo the real transmissions and engines in the main exhibit space. But this exhibit has nothing to do with nostalgia. Jason’s paintings are totally today. Large. – almost aggressive – to me they are totally today: totally urban. The four pieces are created with bits of plexiglass, mirror, spray paint and bits of hardware. Their prism-like structures are sharp; the opposite to Neufeld’s gentile engines posing upstairs. Gringler’s paintings explode with an exhilarating energy. You have to see them to feel it! Go from the cool calm gender-bending sculptures on the main floor, and descend into the Bunker for some high voltage energy.
Until may 22nd at Parisian Laundry:
3550 Rue Saint-Antoine Ouest
Métro: Lionel Groulx. Walk west along Ste. Antoine for about 5 minutes.
GRAB A GREAT BITE. Two minutes away from Parisian Laundry. Bring your own booze to Bitoque and enjoy Portuguese and classic bistrot food in a warm, family-run resto.