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Exibitions 1981

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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

Serge Barbeau, John Chalmers, David Evans, Jean-Daniel Gagnon, Marvin Gasoi, Lorraine Gilbert, Jennifer Harper, Richard Holden, Peter Hutchison, Nomi Kaplan, Gordon MacDonald, David Rasmus, Cyril Ryan, Barbara Spohr, George Yorkin, Robert Walker
From January 6th 1981 to January 31st 1981
Flore, les oeuvres des photographes canadiens

"Flora” at Optica, reflects what is happening in photography among the English Canadian art community. Why Flora? Many young photographers, some known others not, expressed their desire to exhibit at Optica. The members of the exhibition committee looked at their portfolios and noticed that some of the works had a common denominator: images of nature. For these artists, photography became an aesthetic and ecology floralie contrasting with the social content of the documentary photographers of Quebec, as one can see at OVO for example. The result was a thick and smiling, all landscape, roots, vegetation abounding, in isolated frames or where the colour green dominated.

Sometimes, and generally among the Western Canadian photographers, the photograph was manipulated, worked like a print. Only in the case of Robert Walker, whose work is the most expressionist in his tormented interpretations of concentration camps during WWII where the ground has begun to reflourish.

This exhibition arouses in one's mind tropical images although we are still in January. It informs, in its manner, the state of photography in English Canada.
- Press release (Optica)

- Montreal Calendar Magazine, janvier 1981, p.25.
- Viau, René, «Les Galeries Rouvrent leurs Portes», Le Devoir, 17 janvier 1981.

Judith Schwarz
From January 7th 1981 to January 31st 1981
Sculptures au sol

- Freedman, Adèle, "Yesterday's News, Today's Sculpture", The Globe and Mail, 18 août 1981.

Chris Gallagher, Barrie Jones
From February 6th 1981 to February 28th 1981
True North

TRUE – What we see
NORTH – Where we are

Optica Gallery, Montreal, wishes to announce the opening of “True North”, an exhibition of colour photographs by Vancouver artists Chris Gallagher and Barrie Jones. The show consists of 12 – 27" x 40" colour prints by each artist. The concept of True North is a reflection of our culture in light of the past, present and future. The work takes two very familiar symbols or figures, i.e., Santa Claus and a hockey player, and places them in unusual contexts for the camera.

Jones took his hockey photographs on three different trips abroad between 1973 and 1978 and is the figure behind the mask in all of the photographs. Gallagher's Santa pictures began while managing a Santa booth in a shopping centre with his associate Allan Harvey who is the Santa in all of the pictures, Together the bodies of work became the idea True North.

Santa is seen engaged in real-life situations like sun-tanning, skiing, on the edge of a building (unusual); and the hockey player is seen posed with classical monuments of foreign cultures like the Eiffel Tower, Egyptian Tombs, the Parthenon, etc. The pictures have very humorous connotations on first sight; on the second take, however, one begins to see the mysterious and surreal overtones inherent in these pictures. One asks: "Why is it funny to see either Santa at the beach or a Canadian hockey player with a mummy in Egypt?" True North breaks down the stratification of culture and myth and points out that the desire or act of culture is what is important and that culture is "all one" spanning time and place.

The work is accessible on many levels. It appeals to our sense of humour, and notions of mythic figures, costumes, ritual, dreams and hero worship. Santa, giver of dreams, is brought down to earth by his association with real life, and this makes real life seem like fantasy. The hockey player is certainly a symbol of what is Canadian; the photographs raise the question: Is hockey as significant to Canadian culture as temples were to Egyptian culture?

Both artists work in other mediums outside of photography. Gallagher is an experimental filmmaker who is known internationally, and Jones has exhibited his sculpture nationally. Again, they both studied art at U.B.C., Jones graduating in 1972, and Gallagher in 1973, and were instrumental in “13 Cameras Vancouver”, however, this is their first major joint exhibition. The show runs from February 7 to the 28, 1981, at Optica Gallery, 1029 Beaver Hall, (514) 866-5178, Montreal, and is scheduled to tour Canada in 1981-82.
- Press release (Optica)

Faye Fayerman
From February 6th 1981 to February 28th 1981
Exposition solo

Optica, Montreal, Quebec is pleased to announce the exhibition of paintings by Faye Fayerman. These are large format paintings involving figures in an environment. Faye Fayerman is a young artist from Prince Albert, Saskatoon, who studied at the University of Manitoba, and received her Masters degree from Concordia University in Montreal. She is presently living in Montreal. Ms Fayerman teaches at McGill University and at the Visual Arts Centre in Montreal.
- Press release (Optica)

Marian Penner Bancroft
From March 3rd 1981 to March 28th 1981
Exposition solo

Richard Purdy, Karen Amyot
From March 6th 1981 to March 28th 1981
Ba Pe

- Sabbath, Lawrence, "Do some artists try to fool the public?", The Gazette, samedi 14 mars 1981, page 124.
- Viau, René, «De l'archéologie-fiction à Matisse», Le Devoir, samedi 14 mars.
- "New Finds" , The Globe and Mail, Monday March 17th, 1984.

Gunter Nolte
From April 3rd 1981 to April 25th 1981
Prazis et référence

Lucio De Heusch, Luc Béland
From May 1st 1981 to May 28th 1981

-Toupin, Gilles,«Une remontée de l'art contemporain», La Presse, janvier 1982.
-Toupin, Gilles, «De Heusche et Béland chez Optica: Peindre et parler de la peinture de l'autre», La Presse, samedi 16 mai, 1981.
-Lamoureux, J., «Luc Béland/Lucio de Heusch», Arts Canada, no: 242-243, juillet / août 1981, page 43.
-Sabbath, Lawrence, "Art in boxes is intriguing and attractive", The Gazette, Saturday May 23rd 1981.

Brian Wood
From June 5th 1981 to June 30th 1981

John Francis, Exposition «Wallworks Exhibition» Exhibition, 1981.

John Francis
From June 5th 1981 to June 30th 1981
Sculptures récentes

The following document is only available in English:
"John Francis (...) creates a stationary object that resemble a catamaran with lighted neon tubing in the centre instead of an expected sail.

"I am concerned with a trip into the obscurity of self," says Francis in a program note. To this onlooker the two pontoon shapes covered in black cloth resembled a boat to carry the dead across the river Styx, with Charon the boatman and his watchdog Cerberus.

It could have also have been just what Orpheus used when he descended into the underworld in search of his beloved Eurydice. It's the incongruity of the neon tubing against the kayak shapes that liberates one's imagination and sets it running in all directions. That's what makes this such a great show."
-Sabbath, Lawrence, "Furniture Exhibit Has Inherent Charm." The Gazette, Saturday June 20th, 1981, p. 119.

- Sabbath, Lawrence, "Furniture Exhibit Has Inherent Charm." The Gazette, Saturday June 20th, 1981, p. 119.
- «Francis, Wood, et Tremblay», La Presse, Samedi le 27 juin 1981.
- Toupin, Gilles, «Une remontée de l'art contemporain», La Presse, janvier 1982.

Robert Rayher, Brian Scott
From September 8th 1981 to September 26th 1981
Ateliers d'été à Optica

Artist, animated film-maker and former Montrealer Brian Scott is hard at work on a somewhat satirical installation: the house has a world of its own and the intrusion of the outside world via the media. Spectators and curiosity-seekers are hereby warned that they may become part of the exhibit.

Robert Rayher's film as gallery art will include slides, film and video experimentingn with space, time, movement, and order.
- "City Light: Galerie Optica", Montreal Review (unknown date), page 34.

- «City Light: Galerie Optica», Montreal Review (unknown date), page 34.

Eva Brandl
From October 1st 1981 to October 24th 1981
Wall Constructions

This document is only available in English:
Ces sculptures construites d'ardoise et autres matériaux sont basées sur des cartes géographiques et des vues aériennes. Elle sont indépendantes dans la forme et autonomes malgré leurs références démontrées à l'aide de documents, à la notion de topographie. Ces oeuvres en quelques sorte représentent plutôt qu'illustrent.

Elles réfèrent à la topographie à la fois dans la délinéation graphique de formes de la nature retrouvées sur les cartes géographiques ainsi que dans la configuration physique de la surface, le contour de régions démontrant leur relief et leur position. Ces sculptures tiennent à la fois de la connaissance et de l'imaginaire.
- Press release (Optica)

- Viau, René, « Les expositions. Safdie, Joliffe, Brandl, Savoie», Le Devoir, 10 octobre 1981, p.30.

Michael Jolliffe
From October 1st 1981 to October 24th 1981
Recent Paintings

This document is only available in French:
Né en 1945, Michel Jolliffe est un peintre séduisant bien que son exposition chez Optica manque d'unité. "Nouveau baroque", Jolliffe tente d'introduire dans sa peinture, un certain contenu figuratif "sacré". Symboliques, ses peintures étranges où l'on verra par exemple une sorte de personnage prosterné devant des pyramides avec des versets de psaume en guise de titres, sont toutes en couleurs tapageuses ou mièvres. Ces œuvres jouent sur la répétition et la surcharge des motifs et emploient volontiers certaines conventions visuelles archétypales. Il y a bien sûr des paillettes scintillantes qui font très "années 80" tout en accentuant le caractère de religiosité populaire et spontanée de ces petites fêtes. Avec son service des laques dorées et des orgies pieuses et pastels, Jolliffe sombre parfois et non sans auto-ironie dans la pâtisserie. Tout de même, cette peinture originale et biblique est loin d'être dénuée de qualités. À surveiller. Lieux de la fête donc.
- Viau, René, « Les expositions. Safdie, Joliffe, Brandl, Savoie», Le Devoir, 10 octobre 1981, p.30.

- Viau, René, « Les expositions. Safdie, Joliffe, Brandl, Savoie», Le Devoir, 10 octobre 1981, p.30.
- Payant, René, «Michael Joliffe, Optica», Parachute, no. 25, Hiver 1981, page 31-32.

Michael Billingsley
From November 3rd 1981 to November 21st 1981
Vie en prison


The installation, "Prison Life" is a controlled environment for the audience. The structure of this environment includes emotional, visual and audio elements which overlap and surround the display of photographs (...).
- Michael Billingsley

Coral Arrand, Persimmon Blackbridge, Rodney Clark, Alexandra Dikeakos, Jean Kamins, Robert Minden, Colleen O'Neill, Leslie Poole, Chick Rice, Henri Robideau, Jim Woodward
From November 3rd 1981 to November 21st 1981
Couples, une exposition d'oeuvres d'artistes de Vancouver

Images of couples are scarcely a rare phenomenon, though the conditions most commonly portrayed in them are those of disunion and disharmony. Most often than not, these works are about states of antagonism, loneliness, scorn, martyrdon, manipulation, mindlessness, objectification, inequity, self-absorbed lust, or a virtually axiomatic disconnectedness between the dual constructs of Femininity and Masculinity. Absent from most images of couples are such experiences, generosity, conversation, interchange, sympathy, humanity, consciousness, and irreplaceability.

Images per se—whatever their focus, purpose, or context—are more than just information and decoration. They also instruct, inculcate, advise, reinforce, and imply possibility. While not advocating the case of society's militant mainstream, the works in this exhibition do testify to the possibility that minds and bodies and hearts can commingle. There is evidence here of "willing bonds" between people, as Chick Rice has put it. I have been instructed and delighted by these images, and it had been my great pleasure to assemble them.
- Avis Lang Rosenberg

Gordon Voisey
From December 1st 1981 to December 19th 1981
Exposition solo

This exhibition of two wall installations and paintings presents diverse imagery defined as schematic symbols. Shaped pieces surfaced with veneers of Plexiglas use words and images to define needs the austere symbol denies. In the second installation imagery such as stallions, diamonds and fish are projected three-dimensionally from the wall. These symbols are veneers embodying the statement, which addresses aspects of the façade denying and sublimating a desire.
- Press release (Optica)

- Kuspitt, Donald. "Exotic Modernism." Vanguard, November, 1980.
- Freedman, Adèle. "Voisey Charts Life After Technology." The Globe and Mail, January, 1980.

Ruth Beer
From December 1st 1981 to December 19th 1981

My work incorporates steel rods that are used as pictorial lines and components of literal structure. I intend to achieve a sense of openness within which rhythms of space, direction and movements are graphed. The overall effect is of an unordered network that not only relates to geometric form and perspective, but also recognizes the potential for organic flow and resonance.

The piece is a transition in line from wall to floor culminating in highly reflecting copper sheets (3/16" thick), which are placed so that they reflect their shape back onto the wall. This shape changes depending on the angle and direction of the sun or existing light. The work is a study of the transition and perception of two and three-dimensional elements.
- Ruth Beer