There was a collection of sculptures by Alfred Laliberte, which were mostly fine (though I’m not much of a conneisseur of sculpture), but as usual, my eye was more drawn towards the comical – which in this instance was one entitled “Edouard Tasse fights the Devil”. No symbolism here, it was a straight punch up between the two of them. I’ve no idea who Tasse is or was, but he seemed to have Satan on the ropes, perhaps surprising given that Beezlebub has a bit of a reputation, but perhaps he’d had word to take a dive in the fifth round. Or maybe it was because Tasse’s right fist was almost as big as his head. I was also amused by the fact that the Devil had a cloak artfully arranged to cover his privates.
Possibly even funnier was a work by Frederick B Taylor which sought to warn the people of Quebec of the dangers of fascism by depicting a swastika in the sky. Not the most intrinsically hilarious of subjects, you might think, until you saw the date: 1942-1948(!). Given the urgency of the message, you might think Taylor might have upped his work rate (or else left it unfinished in 1945).
There was, of course, some great stuff there too. Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Young Woman and de Vlaminck’s Rueil près de Paris in particular. I also liked Valentin’s Abraham sacrificing Isaac though Abe doesn’t look too chuffed at being told he can spare his son, in fact he looks like he fully intends to slay the angel as well.
I’ve not been too complimentary about Canadian art, but I did like Dorian Fitzgerald’s, I guess neo-impressionist, Throne Room, Queluz Palace. I doubt it’s cool to admire contemporary representational art, but it’s very effective.
Then I went to the Contemporary Art Gallery and liked some more Canadian artists. The gallery is mainly devoted to temporary exhibitions, so it’s appeal is very much predicated on the quality of those. Fortunately for me, I liked both the Etienne Zack and Marcel Dzama shows. Dzama uses a limited number of motifs repeatedly (animals, guns, ballet dancers, soldiers, urophagia) but it’s very effective.