Currently on view: Montréal
Kent Monkman: The Atelier
at Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain
14 May – 23 June 2011
Installation view. Courtesy of the artist and Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain
“The Atelier” is Kent Monkman’s current exhibition at Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain, transforming the entrance of the gallery into an open artist studio, furnished with antique décor including Récamier, wall paper and thick embroidered drape curtains partially covering a theatre window. Placed at the centre of this mise en scène (although exclusively for the pleasure of those at the private view) a winged male nude poses next to an easel, canvas and used paintbrushes, piles of drawings and etchings of reference materials cluttered on the adjacent wall. Mimicking the romantic ideal of a 19th Century European studio, Monkman invokes the artist as creative genius, bastardized with contemporary paraphernalia such as a Louis Vuitton handbag and photographs of Princes William and Harry. Monkman opens the studio door for his audience to take a quick tour of the creative process in his new series of fables.
Currently on View: Montréal
Kent Monkman “My Treaty Is With The Crown”
Leonard + Bina Ellen Art Gallery
4 March – 16 April 2011
Kent Monkman “Mary” (2011) High definition video. Courtesy Bailey Fine Arts, Toronto
Nearly two decades ago, I visited the National Museum of the American Indian in Harlem (It relocated in One Bowling Green, New York City in 1994). An art student at the time, I was curious to find links between my upbringing in Japanese Shinto religion and the Native American’s worship of nature. I vaguely remember the features of this space, but I did notice that only a handful of visitors were in the museum and, after settling in for a while, I could hear echoes of drumming in the hallways. When I followed the sound I found a man presumably in his early 30s, playing on a traditional animal skin drum, singing a song of folklore. He wasn’t dressed in any overstated ceremonial costume but simply festooned with ornaments on his long dark hair. Children and adults gathered around as the man continued his performance, in this space dimly lit to preserve the nearby artifacts stored behind glass cases. A split-second later, my eyes were blinded by a flash of light, coming from the camera of an elderly person standing next to me. The singing man sternly frowned, ceased playing. He spoke in the elderly person’s direction, in a firm yet polite manner: “Please don’t take my picture because I’m not an exhibition display”. After a measured pause and palpable tension in the air, the man resumed his drumming with dignity.
Kent Monkman’s exhibition “My treaty with the crown” recalled in me this buried memory of the proud signing man, I may have completely forgotten otherwise. The exhibition proffers multilayered narratives and profound symbolism from Monkman’s work, together with other paintings, objects and ornaments from the collection of Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the McCord Museum of Canadian History.