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Exibitions 1976

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Index of artists, authors and curators

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OPTICA Fonds (Concordia University Archives)

Guidebooks to help in consulting the archives

Electronic Reproduction Fees

Gera Dillon, Tim Clark, Denis Plain
From January 22nd 1976 to February 12th 1976
3 Photographes de Montréal

"The three young but highly accomplished photographers exhibiting their work at Optica all use their medium to transform rather than just document. [...] the final images are not altogether byproducts of having experienced specific places, but spring at least in part from the artists’ souls.
It’s as though French-born Denis Plain’s urban ‘life’ with its claustrophobic air was actually inside the artist – the shiny lobby enclosures and chic tunnel-like images of modern ingress and egress are really more psychic scenery than out of doors reality. And in all this, man is occasionally as mere, shadowy figment whose reflection ricochets off splendid arrays of glass surfaces.
Using infrared film to shoot at night, Gera Dillon employs his camera to immerse the pageant and barbarism of sport in ironically sweet ozones of unsurpassed lyrical dreaminess. Dillon arranges his black and white prints in sets. In one of these, with the photos mounted slightly off kilter on the same black mat, the angular black spaces between the cryptic images of a water main and a telephone post emphasize the mystery of each photo’s relatedness to the others. [...]
The third artist, Tim Clark, seems to have fabricated his own scenery for his shots. From even a short distance, his tiny prints look like black rectangles but as we crowd up close, chiaroscuro begins to dissolve, revealing a lawn strewn with crumpled paper balls (shades of Levines disposables) and a wall of clouds which turns out to be a backdrop of wallpaper or painting. These visions, which often assume an altar-like centrality, are amusingly reminiscent of photo-documentation of conceptual pieces in art magazines."
- Lehman, Henri, "Reality intrudes", The Montreal Star, January 31st 1976.

- Ireland, Jock, «Optica Gallery : Photographers’ 'real' work unreal», The Gazette, 24 janvier 1976.
- Lehman, Henri, «Décor et Accessoire», La Presse, vol. 18, no 3, 17 janvier 1976.
- Lehman, Henri, «Reality intrudes», The Montreal Star, 31 janvier 1976.

Bill Jones
From February 16th 1976 to March 25th 1976
Photographic Objects / Objets photographiques

The following document is only available in French :
"Face à Alvarez Bravo, l’art de Bill Jones fait plutôt figure d’anti-photographie. La photo avait pourtant l’habitude de nous raconter quelque chose, de s’en tenir à un thème clair. Mais avec Jones, le sujet n’occupe plus les premières loges. Il n’a qu’une maigre importance en regard des paradoxes et des juxtapositions inattendues que nous font affronter les images du photographe. Celui-ci accumule des objets trouvés, il fabrique des photos-montages complexes, il insère des photographies à l’intérieur des photographies, il fait jouer la couleur avec le noir et le blanc, il accumule les impossibilités les unes après les autres pour nous dérouter complètement. Son triptyque intitulé Dog Portrait de 1975 laisse voir trois niches dont deux seulement possèdent des ouvertures. Ces niches, assemblées à partir d’autres photographiques, sont en fait des illusions. [...] Une photographie capte un instant présent particulier dans le temps. Deux photos différentes à l’intérieur d’une même image essaient dans une relation de contenant à contenu de nous faire admettre deux instants inconciliables, de là les ambiguïtés des photographies de Jones. L’artiste travaillant un peu à la manière du peintre déconstruit la photographie traditionnelle. Il ampute ses images de toute crédibilité au profit du déclin de la signification. Ce que veut nous dire en fait Jones, c’est que les objets que nous avons sous les yeux n’ont aucune existence. C’est la photographie qui prime et qui masque en quelque sorte le sujet. Jones ira jusqu’à souligner la fiction du médium en photographiant des photos et des revues de photographies pour intituler ironiquement le tout An inquiry into the aesthetic of photography, paraphrasant ainsi le titre d’un numéro spécial de la revue artscanada sur la photographie."
- Toupin, Gilles, "Alvarez Bravo et Bill Jones, deux générations", La Presse, February 28th 1976.

February 22nd 1976
Conference by Bill Jones

- Ireland, Jock, «Silkscreens that refresh; photographs that lasso», The Gazette, 20 mars 1976.
- Toupin, Gilles, «Alvarez Bravo et Bill Jones, deux générations», La Presse, 28 février 1976.

Israel Charney
From April 5th 1976 to May 1st 1976
The Daily News

"Israel Charney’s creations and artifacts now on show at Optica also have a cartoonish allure – the old show ads and paperdoll wax may even evoke a sense of low-camp nostalgia in some semi-young viewers. But the most striking portion of the Charney material is the series of crayon drawings. He portrays imaginary beasts which are at turns menacing and goofy – one might say a quirky amalgam of B. Potter – Dr. Seus, wedded in the light of California funk. These icons refer to a childhood no one ever really lived, a kind of gallery in which impulses and feelings are separated and given not only a name but a body. There’s irony in the contrast of meticulous crayon rendering in images such as Mouse case (‘... a gogetter,’) and his silly looking countenance. This is a refreshing show, unabashedly droll and ugly, yet entertaining without recourse to whimsy. Foolish free-flow that possesses its own uncanny wisdom."
- Lehman, Henri, "Comic perspective", April 1976.

- Lehman, Henri, «Comic perspective», avril 1976.

Exposition de groupe / Group exhibition
From May 3rd 1976 to May 29th 1976
A Survey of Young British Photography

Ken Peters
From June 14th 1976 to June 22nd 1976
Paintings : The Early Work / Tableaux : Période du début

"Kenneth Petters, who is in his early twenties and not a member of the Five (Regina Five), is the only painter I saw in Saskatchewan who had taken something integral from Newman – his linearism, namely, and his warm dark colour – but Peters still has his own way of handling paint itself."
- Clement Greenberg
- Internal document (Optica)

Robert Bourdeau, Marianna Knottenbelt, Vincent Sharp, Lynne Cohen, Tom Gibson, Pierre Boogaerts, Charles Gagnon
From July 13th 1976 to August 13th 1976
Destination Europe

"[The exhibition aims to] provide the most accomplished photographers in this country with extensive exposure in Europe at galleries and museums of quality and credibility. [...] The final selection represents the most serious and committed individuals working in the medium. A decision was made to include only photography in which the traditional values of ‘photography-as-art’ were invested. This ruled out those legitimate and exciting areas of contemporary art in which photographic images are indispensable either as conveyors of information or as documentation, but are not in themselves valued aesthetically. [...]
I have made arrangements with the British magazine Creative Camera to publish a special supplement on «Destination Europe». It will include reproductions, bio material, and a critique of the show by a British critic. In other words, it will function as a catalogue for the exhibition. In this way we get not only 2 000 copies of a catalogue (printed as an over-run) but the ten-thousand subscription copies as well. The supplement will go out in the mail with a regular issue. We are planning this to be the September or October issue [...]."
- Internal document (Optica) : text by William Ewing

A few locations having hosted the exhibition :
- Art Gallery of Ontario (January 15th – February 15th 1977)
- The Photographers’ Gallery, London (March 2nd – April 2nd 1977)
- Galeria Spectrum / Canon, Barcelona (January 8th – 31rst 1978)
- Il Diaframma / Canon, Milan (September 18th – October 7th 1978)
- Galerie Delpire, Paris (dates unknown)
- etc.

Franco Fontana, Mario Giacomelli, Gianni Berengo Gardin
From September 20th 1976 to October 1st 1976
Trois photographes italiens - Three Italian Photographers

The following document is only available in French :
"Exposition organisée dans le cadre d’un programme international d’échange avec des galeries européennes, dans le cas présent, Il Diaframma / Canon de Milan."
- Internal document (Optica)

Leopold Plotek
From October 11th 1976 to November 5th 1976
Paintings / Peintures

"Lee Plotek and Roland Poulin, two of the 18 artists who participated in last year’s "Quebec 75", are having their first solo exhibitions since the closing of that dubious and scurrilously debated event. The current shows, besides bringing us the latest production of two of our more innovative artists, make it easier to understand the bitterness and frustrations aroused by "Quebec 75". It becomes evident that what we witnessed was not just the consecration of a new generation of Montreal artists but the acknowledgement, however unintentional, of the death of Formalism in art. Formalistic thought, by focusing on morphology, i.e. on more or less measurable elements like color, line and composition, could presume the existence of evolution – of an evolutionary progress – in art. [...] But "Quebec 75" was a post-Plasticien, post-Formalist show and the new generation dashed this traditional optimism by presenting work whose criteria of purity are no longer based on historical values but are to be sought only within the context of each artist’s individual concept and priorities. The immediate point here is that the two shows under discussion are difficult to approach : we can no longer rely on the litmus test of history to judge the works’ originality. Indeed, the very notion of originality – of novelty – is something these artists would dismiss as irrelevant. The new criterion of purity is a conceptualist one which seeks philosophical consistency within the realm of action and idea rather than in terms of aesthetic form and value. It isn’t so much that rules no longer apply, but that each artist now defines his own rules which the viewer must decipher. He must assume a more active and more frustrating role – that of detective rather than judge."
- Bogardi, Georges, "Beyond History", The Montreal Star, October 30th 1976.

- Montreal Calendar Magazine, octobre 1976, p.13.
- Bogardi, Georges, «Beyond History», The Montreal Star, 30 octobre 1976.

Michael Haslam
From November 8th 1976 to November 12th 1976
Hi Rise

Richard Hamilton
From November 14th 1976 to December 9th 1976
Idées et techniques photographiques dans l'art de Richard Hamilton / Photographic Ideas and Technique in the Art of Richard Hamilton

"The world renowned British artist, Richard Hamilton, will visit eastern Canada in late November. His visit and lecture tour have been organized by Optica, in Montreal, and co-sponsored by the following organisations : Optica/Montreal, The National Gallery of Canada, The Art Gallery of Ontario, The Ontario College of Art, York University, Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College, A Space. Optica will mount an exhibition of Mr. Hamilton’s work over the years based on his approach to photography in various print media [ex. My Marilyn]. In the context of Optica’s commitment to the exhibition of photography, this selection of the artist’s work underscores his tremendous contribution toward our understanding of the language of photography."
- William Ewing
- Internal document (Optica)

Jan Andriesse
From December 13th 1976 to January 13th 1977
Paintings by Jan Andriesse / Peintures par Jan Andriesse

The following documents are only available in French :

"D’origine hollandaise et établi à Montréal, Jan Andriesse est un artiste peu connu à Montréal. En 1973 il expose avec un autre peintre d’origine hollandaise, Hans van Hoek. Andriesse a également exposé en Belgique et en Hollande, au Staedelijk Museum. L’exposition montre 16 œuvres dont 6 dessins. L’exposition chez Optica marque chez Andriesse un point tournant : ses travaux précédents se rattachaient à l’abstraction (color field), les travaux qu’il montre chez Optica marquent un retour à la figuration dans la lignée de Bacon, Velasquez, El Greco, etc. (inspiration des grands mâtres du passé)."
- Internal document (Optica)

"Ce sont bien des images figuratives peintes dans la tradition du portrait ancien, mais ce sont aussi des prouesses techniques qui non seulement s’évertuent à nous donner à voir le coup de brosse d’un Vélasquez ou d’un Greco, mais aussi qui n’ont rien à envier à l’expressionnisme de la peinture contemporaine : un sorte de mélange d’archaïsme et de modernisme. [...] Le sujet de cette série toute récente de peintures est celui de l’homme et, justement, de la lumière."
- Toupin, Gilles, "Pas de Père Noël dans les galeries", La Presse, December 24th 1976, p.D22.

- Toupin, Gilles, «Pas de Père Noël dans les galeries», La Presse, 24 décembre 1976, p.D22.