Continuing on the exhibits I saw last week, while Yves Laroche says the show is called Tempest, it struck me much more as a solo show by Derek Mehaffey as I couldn’t really find anything where the work exhibited was thematically linked, let alone being tempestuous. (Although, if pressed, it’d be easy enough to say that all of Mr. Mehaffey’s work is tempestuous to a certain extent).
When I asked if I could take pictures, I was told “no.” So we’re going to have to do with versions from their website, and my pictures from the street. Another reason why it feels to me more like a bunch of paintings by Mr. Mehaffey than anything show-like, is that what they show on the website and what is shown in the gallery, are reasonable facsimiles, but not close to being the same thing. Kind of like the catalogue and exhibit for Wangechi Mutu at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.
Then, one more thing before launching into the art itself, upon reading the press release, I truly hope that Mr. Mehaffey’s art can’t be seen in “countless art galleries around the world.” That would either imply a level of irresponsibility that is just mind boggling or that his work has been forged enough that he can’t be bothered to fight it anymore. Personally, I hope that it was just slip-up on the part of M. Laroche, when he was writing the press release, and he wanted to give the impression of lots and lots and lots of galleries, instead of giving the impression that Mr. Mehaffey can’t be bothered to keep track of the galleries that show his work.
Yves Laroche Galerie d’art is one of the older art galleries in town having opened in 1991. They moved from Old Montreal to Little Italy/Mile End something like two years ago (although I could have sworn it was more like five years ago) and this was my first visit since the move. The two spaces couldn’t be more different from each other. Back in Old Montreal, there wasn’t a single white wall that I can remember, pieces were hung cheek to jowl, almost salon style. In a word cluttered, which was entirely and completely appropriate given that they had chosen (and continue to choose) to exhibit street art and other objects that are a reaction to, or commentary on the visual overload one gets in a 21st century city (I can’t remember ever seeing any graffiti in the countryside, can you?) Visiting the old space was almost like being an anthropologist and being able to study some previously unknown Amazonian tribe in situ (back when that was a good thing).
The new space is the exact opposite, all white walls, lots of space between the pieces of art. It seems like an attempt at getting uppity, possibly to justify the prices, possibly because as M. Laroche got older, he, like everyone else, got more conservative and did not need his senses assaulted from every angle, 24/7 when he went to work. Possibly because he got a great deal on a long term lease in a place that, unfortunately, did not have any 15 foot high brick walls, or most likely, some other equally valid reason, mine just being guesses.
When I visited, there were 19 different pieces being shown, although two of them were multiples, W, a linoleum print in an edition of 30 and Crying Boxcar in an edition of 10. As I’ve said previously, Mr. Mehaffey’s work can be called tempestuous. Mostly due to the fact that he makes big things with lots and lots of little things. In the same kind of way that a tempest is made up of lots and lots of tiny rain drops to make a big storm. Each of his large pieces is formed by many smaller drawings, sketches, collages, call them what you will, combined together not to make a larger whole image, but just a larger image with specific and individual parts that, for the most part, are recognizable as being separate from the whole. Kind of like a group portrait, in that we all recognize that there are a bunch of different people in a group portrait, and it is the group that makes the whole.
The major difference being that Mr. Mehaffey will not only use different objects, faces, things within a larger whole, he also will use a completely different method of making the image. One being drawn with marker, another in paint, a third in pencil, etc. And it is this heterogeneity that make his larger pieces absolutely fascinating and wonderful. I’m kind of annoyed that I was only limited to taking pictures from the sidewalk and using what’s on the yveslaroche.com website because neither one allows for closeups to show to amount of detail in any of the larger paintings.
For purposes of this article, I’m going to call those 19 different pieces the “show” despite the fact that there are 20 different pieces on the website with something like half-a-dozen that don’t correspond. The ones that worked best to me were the larger pieces on non-traditional bases, such as Pile of person 2.
Although I’m still trying to decide if the dirt marks on How We Were were intentional or just an oversight.
It was nice to see that a bunch of the pieces had sold, I guess both M. Laroche and Mr. Mehaffey will be able to pay next month’s rent. The show itself is up for another two days, and while it isn’t going to change anyone’s life, it’s still a pretty show that can easily occupy 15 to 30 minutes of your time before or after having an espresso and cornetto at the Cornetteria across the street from the gallery.