Pierre Dorion at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

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From the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal:

This fall [from October 4, 2012 to January 6, 2013], the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is presenting a major exhibition on Québec painter Pierre Dorion. The show covers the last twenty or so years in the career of this leading figure in painting here and across Canada, and is the latest in the MAC’s series of monographic exhibitions devoted to artists of Dorion’s generation.

Pierre Dorion

Comprising more than seventy pieces produced since 1994, Pierre Dorion offers a critical overview of the painting of this major Montréal artist. While various authors have quite rightly stressed the important role played by photography in the creation of Dorion’s works, this exhibition focuses on their presentation context rather than their production process. Its starting point is a reconstruction of Chambres avec vues, an exhibition mounted by the artist in 1999 in a vacant apartment in the Dauphins sur le Parc building across from Parc La Fontaine in Montréal. There, Dorion made use of installation as a device for presenting his painting, as can be seen in the mise en abyme observed in the work Chambre à coucher, 1999. Notable in this part of the Musée presentation is the development of a dialogue between the physical space where the exhibition takes place and the image of that space. This reconstruction of Chambres avec vues also reveals the roots of the painter’s current approach and the different stages in his practice that have led to the great simplicity which characterizes his work today.

Further on in the exhibition, the hanging of the works adheres more closely to a conventional chronological organization, but interspersed with a few paintings out of sequence. Visitors journeying along this path will be able to observe that, since Chambres avec vues, Dorion’s paintings have become increasingly pared down from a formal standpoint. Indeed, we see that the identity and function of the places photographed (in order to then be painted by the artist), and references to their social and cultural history, are rendered in an unadorned style verging on abstraction. The two new polyptychs created in 2012 specially for the exhibition⎯Gate (The Piers) and Sans titre (DB)⎯are prime examples. In an interview with the MAC, the artist explains his recent work as follows: “In the last few years, I’ve worked extensively from photographs that I’ve taken in galleries or museums on various trips and that consequently include certain works or fragments of works. My preference is for formally spare, very minimalist works, in which the boundaries between architecture and the artwork fade away in the painting.”

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