Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Montreal ExpoArt

Monika Aebischer, "Balancing Ritual", 2006

On Sunday, my partner and I went to the Montreal ExpoArt Festival exhibition in Old Montreal -- four big tents of "emerging" contemporary visual artists from around the world. It was fun strolling among the stalls, seeing what people were doing or trying to do. It's sad to report that of the 100-odd artists featured, only two or three struck us as really quite interesting, and of those the work of Toronto artist Monika Aebischer captivated us the most. Her work has both a decorative appeal and symbolic depth, and we spent a fair amount of time talking with her about the themes and methods of her compositions. What can't be captured here is that all her works are covered in a smooth, thick resin that makes them look like figures trapped in amber and -- by extension -- in time. More can be found on her website. Others, well -- we saw ones who had their technique right down, but left us cold with facile or overly conventional conceptions; others that were downright bad (whatever that is -- won't go into that today). It seems everyone, including Monika, was striving to achieve a certain unique but appealing artistic signature or "look", a recognizable, repeatable and (hopefully) marketable "brand". In a world of multitudinous influences, where any sort of juxtaposition is possible, this kind of self-imposed limitation seems stifling. But that's what people are doing these days in all the arts: one-note Johnny's riding one-trick ponies. In the world where everything's happening all at once more than ever, that's one way to get noticed. I guess I'm feeling snarky today... I think, though, Monika's work is really good.

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