As you walk towards BBAM! Gallery, an oil painting depicting a half nude man taking a selfie in a shiny, gold, balloon star hangs in the window. The painting is called “Gold Star Gay” — a gay person who has never had intercourse with the opposite sex, according to the Urban Dictionary.
Inside, past the Québécois new wave vinyl, a few more oil paintings greet you at the entrance to the second room — one shows a husky, bald, bearded man wearing a half-shoulder leather harness, smoking the nub of a cigar as he takes a selfie.
Each painting depicts an individual gay/queer man and is part of a new exhibition from Ian Stone entitled You’re Gayer Than a Picnic Basket.
“I wanted to make art about what it’s like to be a gay man today, the dating scene — which is mostly lots of selfies, sending themselves bits and pieces of their bodies — and also masculinity and how there’s a lot of toxic masculinity that you have to try to either belong to or avoid online,” says Stone as we sit in the middle of the exhibit.
The exhibit is small but striking, filled with paintings of men taking half-clothed or fully nude selfies. Some of the men seem empowered while others hide their face. Some wear sparkling and flamboyant clothing while donning thick beards.
“I’m trying to paint men who are typically very masculine with their beards, but who aren’t afraid of accessorizing to have a bit more femininity to them,” Stone says. “I’m drawn to the fearlessness of these guys … I mean I’ve had beer bottles thrown at me in public, been called ‘faggot’ so many times. There’s something I find special about these guys who are just unapologetically themselves and I think that’s beautiful.”
Stone, an artist from Laval, began exploring homosexuality in his art around three years ago and has been gathering selfies to paint from Instagram and gay dating and hook-up apps. Stone of course asks prospective subjects if he can paint them, and almost everyone says yes.
“It takes about 100 to 150 pictures for me to find one I want to paint,” Stone says. “Very rarely will someone say no. People are vain. They’re impressed, for one, because of the technique, but they want to be immortalized in a sense, on canvas. I think it goes with the whole Instagram culture of wanting to be seen.”
Each portrait is a snapshot into a different person’s life and Stone, a master of still life, captures that snapshot beautifully. These canvases evoke a sense of vulnerability and trust in the viewer — and in Stone, as he has only met a few of his subjects because of pandemic restrictions. Some of the subjects took their photos in the bathroom, some in their bedrooms, some in their living rooms. Others found random objects to pose with.
“There’s that guy,” Stone says as he points to a black and white portrait of a bald man standing in his tub, wearing only his underwear and gripping a plant, roots dripping dirt. “I can’t even imagine that. Like why would you uproot a plant, go in your bathroom to take a picture of yourself in your underwear to send to some other guy? I just can’t comprehend it. But that’s why they make interesting paintings.”
The name of the exhibit follows another one of Stone’s past showings, You’re Gayer Than a Rainbow.
“These are just phrases that people have constructed over, like, I don’t know how long … I’d say decades,” he says. “There’s a whole list of them that I found online, like a big Urban Dictionary just to show how gay someone is.”
Still, the idea of “gay” is a subjective one.
“Does it mean that they’re effeminate or fruity? I like to play with that,” Stone says. “Especially by having something so conventional looking like a painting. I love that when you read the title, you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s not what I was expecting.’”
Hence the title You’re Gayer Than a Picnic Basket and the accompanying painting, a still life picnic basket with a loaf of French bread sticking out ever so slightly.
Stone plans to continue his exploration of homosexuality through art, but going forward, wishes to focus more on objects rather than people.
“It goes back to this idea of what gay is and what gay means. People imbue these objects with like, ‘Oh, I can’t be seen in public with this. It’s too gay,’” Stone says. “So I’ve been asking ‘What’s the gayest object you own?’ Everyone’s idea of what gay is is different, so the objects are changing, depending on the person. One guy looked around his house and said a leather teddy bear.” ■
This feature was originally published in the December issue of Cult MTL. You’re Gayer Than a Picnic Basket by Ian Stone is on at BBAM! Gallery (808 Atwater) through Jan. 31 (extended from Dec. 31). It can also be see online here.
For more on the Montreal arts scene, please visit the Arts section.
Upcoming contemporary art exhibit featuring a collection of overlapping drawings as 'illegible, messy scribbles' – Kelowna News – Castanet.net
A Kelowna-based artist is showcasing a new type of art exhibit, focusing on a collection of overlapping drawings that are illegible, messy scribbles for contemporary art.
The Iranian-Canadian artist, Aileen Bahmanipour, has created what she expresses as ‘useless drawings that contradict the very purpose of drawing, which is to have something the viewer is able to see.’
Described as both ‘an image-maker and image-breaker,’ Bahmanipour, exhibit if one that took inspiration from milling machines, extraction tools, and other similar industrial machines that separate particles from materials.
The Wasting Techniques exhibit hosts a series of complex drawings are on clear acetate sheets and will also be sprayed regularly with a spitting machine, which will overtime wash away the drawings and turn them into stains on the floor.
The exhibit also includes multiple ways for visitors to interact with the exhibition, either in person or over a live stream. Two cameras have been set up by the artist, one in front of the transparent sheet and one behind.
“We are intrigued to see the evolution of this exhibition over the next 6 weeks as the artworks change and transform from the spitting machine. Bahmanipour has created an exhibition that avoids being static by not only the transformative quality of the work, but the multiple access points for visitors to experience it,” Artistic and Administrative Director, Lorna McParland said in a press release.
Wasting Techniques will be on view in the Main Gallery of the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art from Jan. 29 to March 13, 2021.
Visitors will also have an opportunity to learn more about Bahmanipour with an upcoming artist talk with them via zoom on Feb. 18. To learn more and register to participate, visit the Alternator Centre’s website.
Weekend Round-Up: Stylish Set-Dressing, Madden Strategy, And Parisian Art – HODINKEE
Peter Schjeldahl has been the head art critic at The New Yorker since 1998. I would be lying to you if I said I was a frequent reader of his work, but I’ve always made it a point to bookmark his criticism when I stumble across it. That doesn’t mean I always return to it, mind you, but his writing generally ends up saved inside a perpetually growing list of need-to-read tabs on my laptop, waiting for me to grow restless enough to come back to it. This week, I opened up one of his more recently published pieces, The Art Of Dying, from December 2019. In this thoughtful piece of self-reflection, Schjeldahl discusses a recent lung cancer diagnosis, his years of sobriety, and how he’s lived his life thus far. Nothing is normal these days, and Schjeldahl’s writing here reminds us that we’re all nothing but a sum of our personal experiences and that how we tell our story truly matters. I highly recommend it.
– Logan Baker, Editor, HODINKEE Shop
Italian art gallery becomes a COVID-19 vaccine centre – The Globe and Mail
The Castello di Rivoli, near Turin, has been a marvel of reinvention over its thousand-year history. It has been a castle – castello in Italian – royal palace, military barracks, refugee centre and, lately, a UNESCO World Heritage site and art gallery.
In March or April, it will assume another role, COVID-19 vaccination centre, when the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, the site’s main tenant, opens its galleries to visitors who fancy combining a bit of culture with their inoculations.
The idea of turning one of Europe’s best-known contemporary art museums into a temporary health clinic was conceived by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, 63, the museum’s American-Italian director. “Art has always helped and healed,” she said. “It provides an experience that includes and involves others and can be a form of therapy to treat trauma.”
While vaccinations are normally not considered traumatic experiences, getting one in an airy gallery might take the edge off any lingering jab anxiety. Polls suggest there is vaccine hesitancy among significant minorities of Europeans.
The vaccines will be administered in the third-floor gallery of the museum, where the walls are lined with the creations of Claudia Comte, a Swiss artist whose work, according to museum literature, comprises “large scale environmental installations … of a form of consciousness primarily shaped through the digital experience.”
While Ms. Comte’s art may not be to everyone’s taste, the gallery no doubt beats a sterile, windowless hospital room as a vaccination centre. Ms. Comte is also working on what Ms. Christov-Bakargiev called a “soothing, calming” soundtrack that will be played while medics administer the vaccines.
After they get their jabs, the newly inoculated will be allowed to wander the lower galleries (assuming Italian pandemic restrictions allow them to open), where one of the new installations will include Sex, by German visual artist Anne Imhof. Works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Amadeo Modigliani are also on display.
The vaccinations will be done by the local health authority, which will have to ensure that the proper safety protocols are in place. Ms. Christov-Bakargiev said the museum should be ideal for the inoculation effort, since it is already equipped with thermal scanners and a climate-control system and has ample space for physical distancing, waiting rooms and vaccination booths. The third floor covers 10,000 square feet.
She said the idea of turning the museum into a vaccination centre came to her months ago but took on new urgency on Dec. 13, when museum chairman Fiorenzo Alfieri died of COVID-19 after a month-long illness. He was 77.
“The day after he died, I thought that I needed to do something more than close the museum during the pandemic and wait,” she said. “We had to do something more.”
Many museums and art galleries in Europe began as hospitals, including Les Invalides in Paris and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, home of Picasso’s Guernica. Castello di Rivoli is just doing it in reverse order – a museum that is becoming, in effect, a hospital.
According to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker, Italy, which has seen 83,000 pandemic deaths, had administered more than 1.2 million vaccine does by Jan. 19. Ranked by doses per 100 people, the tally puts it well ahead of the European Union average.
Italian health authorities are planning to open vaccination sites in public spaces across the country, including city squares. Cultura Italiae, a group of cultural leaders, has proposed that other museums and cultural centres copy the Castello di Rivoli vaccination model. After all, “public museums are committed to creating an accessible, pluralistic space to serve our community,” Ms. Christov-Bakargiev said.
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