Visual artists have long borrowed from the world of play to achieve such effects as trompe-l’oeil and anamorphosis, or even to insert hidden codes into their work. The exhibition Contemporary Artists at Play presents approximately 40 artworks by Canadian artists that, through their forms, processes, references or narratives, use games to stimulate our reflection. It is the perfect backdrop against which to unveil the Museum’s new acquisitions and showcase exciting works in its contemporary art collection!
Drawing inspiration from artistic practices that employ a bold and playful use of materials, styles and techniques, some artists featured in the exhibition transform the imagery of – or actual – games and toys, or alter the usual function of object, resulting in unexpected transformations. These artists include Kim Adams, the collective BGL, Adam Basanta, Eric Cameron, Gerald Ferguson, André Fournelle, Liz Magor, Gilles Mihalcean, Elisabeth Picard, Barbara Todd, Angèle Verret, Ambera Wellmann and Jinny Yu. Others, like Marie-Claude Bouthillier, Mario Doucette, Trevor Gould, Maria Hupfield and Kent Monkman, used role playing, disguises – and a dose of humour – to revisit history, imagining costumes and alternative lives.
The works of Sylvie Bouchard, Karine Giboulo, Maskull Lasserre, Yannick Pouliot and Rober Racine, for their part, make poetic or political statements through riddles, plays on words and surrealist juxtapositions. Inspired by video games, simulation games and treasure hunts, the pieces by Eleanor Bond, Christine Major, Michael Merrill and Denis Rousseau lead visitors to step outside the norm and penetrate parallel worlds.
Maskull Lasserre (born in 1978), Bough, 2012, carved butternut tree bough, 320 x 28 x 28 cm. MMFA, purchase, the Canada Council for the Arts’ Acquisition Assistance Program and Dr. Gurjinder P. Sall Fund. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest
Karine Giboulo (born in 1980), Fine – For Lying on the Ground, 2018, statements of offence, fabric, polymer clay, acrylic. MMFA, in process of acquisition. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest
Marie-Claude Bouthillier (born in 1960), Cards on the Table with Marinette, Fourteen Playlets, 2016-2017, video, plywood, duration: 15 min 35 s, puppet (fabrication and puppeteering), set, script, filming and editing: Marie-Claude Bouthillier, final calibration: Michel Giroux. Collection of the artist. © Marie-Claude Bouthillier
Ambera Wellmann, Downward-facing Dog, 2018, oil and acrylic on canvas. Collection of François R. Roy. Photo Galerie Projet Pangée
Eleanor Bond (born in 1948), An Endless City: Cozy Living for a Large Population, from the series ‘‘Some Cities’’, 1997, oil on canvas, 249.5 x 440.5 cm. MMFA, purchase, William Gilman Cheney Bequest and the Canada Council for the Arts’ Acquisition Assistance Program. Photo MMFA, Brian Merrett
Elisabeth Picard (born in 1981), Rainbow Mountains, 2015, dyed self-locking tie wraps. Collection of the artist. Photo Michel Dubreuil
Credits and Curator
An exhibition organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Curated by Geneviève Goyer-Ouimette, in collaboration with Anne Grace, Curator of Modern Art, MMFA; and Sylvie Lacerte, Quebec and Canadian Contemporary Art guest curator.
The Museum thanks its Young Philanthropists’ Circle, proud supporter of the MMFA’s contemporary art program. It further acknowledges the vital contribution of Air Canada to the presentation of this exhibition and extends its thanks to Quebec’s Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, the Conseil des arts de Montréal and the Canada Council for the Arts for their ongoing support.
The Museum would also like to extend its gratitude to all those who, through their generous assistance, encouragement and support, made this exhibition possible.
Trevor Gould (born in 1951), Humboldt Goes to America, 2007, wood, polystyrene, polyurethane, plaster bandages, plaster, alkyd paint, 164 x 47.4 x 30 cm. MMFA, purchase, Guy Fournier Fund. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest