Category Archives: Varley

The Plasticiens and Beyond at the Varley Art Gallery

It was the end of a long week, not a bad or good week, just a long week and I needed to recharge. I had seen the posting about an event taking place at the Varley Art Gallery, a Panel Discussion: Painting Today, Beyond the Canvas in a couple of different places, so decided to venture out and check it out. I am so glad I did!

I arrived early enough to see The Plasiticiens and Beyond:Montreal 1955-1970 on my own as well as take part in the guided tour before the panel discussion started. The exhibit is exquisite, I found myself smiling and feeling better within a few minutes. The colour, the shapes, the energy of the pieces, recharged me, almost made me giddy with the joy of it all. I wondered why an exhibit like this wasn’t at the AGO, although I suspect I would have enjoyed it less at the AGO, because it would have been crowded and I couldn’t have easily stood mesmerized by the works, in my own world.

The panel discussion was interesting, reinforcing many things that I have heard from other corners about the creative process and the state of contemporary art in Canada. One of the things that came out of the panel was the question of why people outside of Montreal/Quebec don’t know about The Placticiens or The Automatiste or in fact why there is so little understanding/knowledge outside of Canada (or I would argue inside of Canada) about the Canadian art scene. I suspect there is at least one book in that topic, and I am certainly not going to tackle it in this blog post, except to say that I think that it goes along with the rest of Canadian Culture.

Another thing that I found interesting, and I have noticed this before at other art talks/presentations, is the use of the word practice in describing the artist’s work activities (not the actual works of art, but the process of creating them). I know practice gets used to describe a law practice or a medical practice, but I don’t think it has the same connotations in those instances as it does when it’s being used in an art/creative process. When someone talks of a practice or their practice, I immediately think of meditation and I group an art practice with meditation practice. I’m not sure that’s what anyone else does/means, but for me art is meditative, whether I am creating it or looking at it. I have to clear my mind of all the noise and focus on creating or looking and tune into what I’m feeling: the emotion of the piece I’m creating or the emotion that the piece I’m looking at is creating in me. That’s what draws me to pieces and drives me to create the pieces I create: emotion.

Anyway, back to the panel discussion, I would have loved to have sat and listened longer and learned more about not just the panelists, but the audience members, who seemed to have a wealth of experience and knowledge behind them, but the room was stuffy and hot and it had to end sometime–all good things must come to an end.

I am sorry to have missed The Automatiste, when it was at The Varley 3-4 years ago, I understand it is in Saskatchewan right now, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to get out there, so I will have to be happy with the catalogue I bought.