Jul 8, 2009

Summer at The Emporium Gallery

by Fiona O'Connor

Though far from the litmus test of true quality or success (at times revealing just how tight-knit this city can be…hint, hint, nudge, nudge), the Montreal Mirror’s annual “Best of Montreal” Readers Poll can nevertheless usually provide a pretty good clue as the people, places and productions most watched by locals.

That readers of the popular alternative weekly voted Montreal’s Emporium Gallery fourth best gallery in the city then, attests to the fact that well, the joint doesn’t exactly need my vote to be considered one of the most up-and-coming contemporary art venues in town. But having stopped by the spot on a recent bike ride down through my old St-Henri ‘hood, I decided that the Emporium Gallery and its impressive repertoire of feature shows were well worth a mention here.

The Emporium Gallery was founded in 2007 by Dave Arnold, Shawn Butchart and Ben Pobjoy, three adoptive Montrealers whose professional and artistic backgrounds (not to mention international connections to all things cool) merge to drive the gallery’s strong contemporary focus. Following a mandate of bringing quality arts programming in diverse mediums to the city's already buzzing art biz, the Emporium provides a space for both established and emerging artists from Canada and abroad to "exhibit their artwork in a professional, artist-centric environment.”

Last week I saw the Emporium’s current show, No Henge, a “sculptural print installation” created by internationally renowned, local printmaking sensation Seripop. Widely considered pioneers in the genre of silkscreen poster art now synonymous with Montreal’s thriving music scene, Seripop’s Chloe Lum and Yannick Deslaneau’s abstract visual aesthetic reflects, in many ways, the anarchic and erratic rhythms characteristic of the duo’s acclaimed musical ventures: AIDS Wolf and the lesser known but equally impossible to classify, Hamborghinni.

The bold palette and repetitive patterns of the No Henge floor-to-ceiling silkscreen experience created an interesting sensation of being enveloped by the medium-sized gallery space (limited air circulation and humid summer heat helped in this regard) - with the room itself abruptly consumed by the show’s central focus: a many-pointed, giant origami-like paper structure.

Though impressive for its scale – and the labour that will no doubt be required to remove the silkscreen wallpaper at the show’s end – No Henge left me feeling like I just might be a Seripop traditionalist: partial to the artists’ more subdued graphic approach and the psychedelic, figurative illustrations typical of their gig poster style.

Seripop’s No Henge wraps up this week, but as promised, the Emporium Gallery’s summer line-up is chock-a-block with shows sure to pique the interests of hipsters and critics alike. Opening on July 16th is the Vice Photo Show – the outcome of the gallery’s collaboration with Vice Magazine which will see a host of works by international photographers to be feature in the magazine’s upcoming Photo Issue.

If laid back St-Henri is just way too far off The Main for your glitzy and glamourous ways, a visit to The Emporium Gallery's well-designed and excellently-maintained website will come as a close second to an actual tour of the gallery. In addition to exhibition archives and links to upcoming shows, the gallery has just launched their latest web-based initiative: Emporium TV. Check out a "webisode" of your favourite exhibition by clicking here.

The Emporium Gallery is located at 3035 St. Antoine O. Studio #74. Telephone is (514) 510-1547.

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