Author Archives: Kara Williams

The Far Off Blue Places: Anjuli Rathod & Vanessa Brown

Anjuli Rathod and Vanessa Brown are emerging artists whose work interplays oneirically in The Far Off Blue Places at Projet Pangée, where the viewer becomes a shadow character from the works themselves, walking among pieces rendered alternately in two and three dimensions. Both artists present strong, whimsical, dreamy work that one can return to again and again to discover new elements and interpretations. The imagery and colour in these paintings and sculptures rhymes and riffs in a harmonious manner without feeling forced. The works in this exhibit are markedly influenced by surrealism yet also brings in contemporary concerns and display a love of materials as well as the symbolic.

Read the full article at The Belgo Report

Christian Messier: La Forêt s’en vient II

Christian Messier’s exhibition, la Forêt s’en vient II, or The Forest is Coming II, is a presentation of an exhibition organized by Galerie Verticale that was held in the new lobby of Salle André-Mathieu in Laval, which is intended to “professionalize their visual arts presentation”. This series of works was removed amidst some controversy earlier this year due to several complaints from the public after visiting the hall for a Bruno Pelletier show. The organizers demanded that six paintings be removed, to which, after a lengthy period of debate, Messier responded that the entire show must be taken down, asserting by an all or nothing policy that they are a whole not to be divided. These works on view at Galerie Laroche Joncas were displayed as they were intended to be exhibited, uncensored. The theme of proposals from which his work was chosen for the show in Laval was “the strange, humour and the grotesque”, presumably a response to the frequent stand-up comedy shows performed at the hall. Ironically, comedy shows gain nearly all of their popularity through bawdy humour, taboo, and controversial topics, but apparently, some nudity in the hall on the way to the show was too much for some visitors to bear, or at least for the Pelletier crowd. The six paintings which were censored did not feature simple classical nudity, as some of Messier’s works in this series resemble, such as the canvas of figures cavorting in an elegant circle la Matisse’s dancers. Instead, it was the works which displayed any semblance of sexuality, through the groping of breasts, implied orgies or sexual activity that the ones which stimulated complaint.

…. Read in full at The Belgo Report

What a Fish Dreams

I wake up, swollen like a half-drowned thing,

not quite a bloated corpse.

Lips fish-plump and waterlogged,

as if I’ve been kissed too much,

never enough.

Head sore in spots,

battered around the fisherman’s boat.

Catch of the day,

treated brutally, carelessly.

Have I been swimming in your black waters

again, all night?

2017

Because of You

 

Because of you, I see the tender exposure

of a stranger’s long black toes

in cheap rubber sandals and I weep.

I cry at the vulnerability of an orange smoke fox

crossing the road at night.

At the death throes of a squirrel struck by a car

epileptic, then still.

Your beauty is a complication I did not desire,

yet your existence is a wish whispered softly within.

I bleed at random, then profusely, without cease,

soaking pants and sheets, in the streets

like a wounded thing that won’t die.

And somehow, I blame you.

Autumn leaves dance like lapping flames in the road behind

a car’s speed, tail lights burning red. It reminds me of

your strokes of energy glowing green

and yellow with power and love,

delicate, controlled, and full.

 

2016

Sébastian Maltais & Sebastien Worsnip

I’m writing for The Belgo Report, reviews and updates about what is going on in the biggest art centre in Montreal. My first two pieces were about painting, an encaustic series inspired by  the writings of Camus by Sébastian Maltais and abstract pieces of explosions by Sebastien Worsnip.

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Map of Flesh

*note: For archival and other purposes, I’m sharing here my old poetry, most of which was written between 1998 and 2003. Before I turned to painting, my creativity came out in words.*

Map of Flesh

~2003

Weaving the red thread through dreams,

wearing the map on my flesh.

One breath into emptiness.

My skin was caught by landmarks,

the points from which a figure

was made and pulled through.

An amphibian summoning

the will to pull itself out of the water

for the first time.

Is it better to wait until it is as easy

as rolling over and lazily opening

one’s eyes from near-sighted red

to the deathlike blinding white?

Points of discomfort tending to pain,

laying on his chest in the dark,

a chain around my neck

and a wig on my head.

I felt the body’s points like marks

on a map, these points were stitches, stones.

And as the flesh collapsed and withdrew,

then spun itself and reformed, these points

remained and became

the foundation of this strange and wonderful

ancient landscape. Our flesh

ceased to matter.

Now neither fish nor flesh,

siamese twins with newly forming legs,

we emerged and floated,

drawn by a light.

My mouth opened

like a void and the flesh swelled

to meet it not

the flesh but the light

and I became a hole.

Wanda Koop and Bonnie Baxter Vernissage at Galerie Division

Last weekend I attended the vernissage of Wanda Koop and Bonnie Baxter at Galerie Division. It was my first time visiting the Arsenal, and I much enjoyed the large, industrial appearance of the space. Galerie Division is long, with high ceilings  and while spacious, there are several spaces to explore, and hallways to walk through.

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I had read about Wanda Koop in Canadian Art, and I’ve long appreciated her use of colour and unusual palette. It was delightful to see her works in person.

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Bonnie Baxter was new to me, and I was intrigued to know that she resides only a few towns over from me. Perhaps I shall have the pleasure of meeting her someday. Her works are large, painterly and dark, telling a story that I heard reflects her own life. I adored the mysterious narrative.

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The Doppelgänger

The doppelgänger (German for “Double-Walker”) is a pervasive theme in my work, deeply rooted in early childhood associations, growing into a symbolic awareness with a strong sense of self-portraiture and autobiography. The sister, or twin figures, are early incarnations of the doppelgänger, the “other”, related, but separate.  This stage is a bridge between the early undifferentiated consciousness of childhood and the cognizance of other people as individuals, often unfathomable and obscure.
This twin often has a darker aspect, a trickster nature, and as the Jungian shadow she is at the same time a guide or teacher.  The works What Little Girls Are Made Of and Forest Sisters deal with this concept, as well as Dance of Salome.  The first painting of the series to show a true doppelgänger was Watching the Wake, in which a girl recognizes her sleeping double—is it a doppelgänger seeing the sleeping self or the self dreaming the doppelgänger?
After acknowledging the otherness of the double, the psyche, when ready for transformation, can internalize the qualities of the twin.   This is the mystical marriage, the merging of opposites initiated by erotic impulse, stirring the soul to absorb the qualities it lacked until then.  The painting Animosity is a double self-portrait, with myself in feminine form, leaning in longing towards the aloof animus figure, myself as a male.  Raising of the Female Waters, in the Mythos series, shows the connection between the male and female figures which elevate and merge in the waters above the female figure in the foreground

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This union of opposites is recognized through many myths and religious philosophies—Shekinah as the Shabbat bride, for example. A particularly potent instance is the Shakti force of Tantra, the feminine energy symbolized by a coiled snake at the base of the spine.   She rises through the energy centres to reach her consort, Shiva, at the crown, in a wedding of the male and female principles, in essence, jiva (the individual soul) to Brahman (the ultimate reality).  The symbol of the cross and the Star of David both are said to signify the marriage of above to below, or spirit to matter.   This is where Narcissus was bewitched to fall in love with his own reflection rather than discover the other as Self.   Raising of the Female Waters shows the importance of both the male and female principle, the standing male figure gesturing as if tuning an invisible instrument, which is affecting the underwater female figure, and their psychic counterparts which float together above her.
Out of every spiritual union comes a birth, a joyous creation, but also a separation.  A psychological siamese twin is formed, which grows and separates into another double, potentially stronger and more complete.  Works such as Seven Days Drowned and Torso with Seven Breasts in the Multiplicity series allude to the fecundity of nature, and the multiplicity of creation.  Three Graces shows the figure at the far right as a pregnant version, full, ripe, and serene. The birth which comes out of a psychological synthesis is the foundation for the images of multiplicity in my work.  Multiplicity to me stands for the fruitfulness of life, the creativity of the female principle and the union of opposites, and the fate of souls born to earth.  The self-portrait face in Cat’s Cradle is doubled in one head, siamese twin style.  The girls in the bathtub in Dreams of Deprivation are joined at the hip, busy at their own obsessive compulsive tasks in their dry, fully-clothed bath.  The echo of figures in Dance of Salome creates, in effect, more than one dancer.  The relevance of multiple limbs, multiple heads and breasts comes to me in part from the association to the Hindu gods and goddesses, their omniscience and omnipotence, their existence outside of time shown through the multiplicity embodied in their figuration.  Bringing such themes into the personal, in portraiture, pays homage to the idea of self-realization.  The self exists as many in the world of flesh, and in every separation there is pain, but also growth.
The myths of dismemberment and creation of life out of body parts fascinate me—Osiris’s scattering, his res-erection, Dionysius being torn limb from limb by his worshipers and Eve created from Adam’s rib.
The word schizophrenia means literally, “broken soul,” and if we are all descended from one source, spirit enclosed in a body, would we not feel the pain of such a breach?  Taking a look at the world around us, it would seem so.  Self-Portrait in a Yellow Shirt, and Queen of Hearts betray a mood of fragmentation and over-identification with the body and the suffering and anxiety resulting. The separation of the one into many and the return of the many into the one is a psychological epic adventure described in many great works of philosophy, literature and religious texts, such as the Bhagavad-Gita, the Zohar, Buddhist texts, D.H.Lawrence, Rumi, Book of Enoch and so on.
In this series I seek to make a small tribute to the various stages in the migration and transformations of consciousness. Symbols or themes which  convey this for me have been the mirror, water or the ocean, the serpent, sisters/twins and eroticism.
The serpent has represented a vast many things for most cultures throughout history, but at this stage in my work I am dealing with the serpent as the unconscious, as potential energy, powerful yet dangerous.  The serpent appears in Eve in the Garden wrapped around the ankle of a contemplative Eve who casually displays her nakedness while holding an apple.    In Kings in the Bible the priests break up the snakes that are in the temple, and then they are among the people, causing them harm and death.  God tells Moses to set up a fiery serpent on a staff and this will cure them.  How can the same serpents be worthy of being chopped up and destroyed, but later raised up on a staff for good?  The serpent is the Kundalini, the powerful energy which lays dormant awaiting awakening.
Water carries similar associations, the primordial sea from whence all things come, but also the collective unconscious, the source of all ideas, pf thoughts and life.  The snake and the ocean contain a paradoxical meaning because they also represent the whole, unity.   Waterbearer, Dreams of Deprivation, Mirror Jar, The Source, Seven Days Drowned and Raising of the Female Waters all explore themes of this life-giving and sustaining resource.
The mirror is similar to the doppelgänger in scope—in that we must recognize one’s Self outside of oneself in order to move forward.  To first “see” one must look.  The mirror in Narcissa and Her Echo among other works conveys this idea.
In my paintings the symbols of water, the serpent and the mirror are not potent only as mythological tales but also on the archetypal and psychological levels.  They are specific images which resonated with meaning during the intensely visual and profound experiences on LSD in my youth, images which stuck with me much later in my work.
Like Narcissus, we may see our own reflection in the water, the image of our ego, and, bewitched, fall in love, or we may find we are mired deep underwater, and must emerge into a diluvial landscape in order to evolve our reptile consciousness.
Through eroticism and love, we learn to identify with the Other, and to yearn to experience the bliss of union.  Eroticism speaks through the language of desire, connection, creativity and sensation about the meaning of life.    I use eroticism to express the doppelgänger theme in works such as Women in a Brothel, Mirror Jar, Narcissa and Her Echo, Dream of the Beast, and What Little Girls are Made of.   Often touched by darkness, like life, never unshadowed by pain. Art lovers know that looking at a painting can be a sensual experience.   I seek to create a sense of heightened awareness and intensified attention, similar to the kind which is initiated with the arousal of desire or realizing in a dream that you are dreaming.  In this way I invite you in.