COLLAGE ON VIEW
at Galerie Nicolas Robert in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
1 February-14 March 2020
David Elliott offers here a corpus of works made up of small dioramas rooted in the tradition of the cabinet of curiosities and shadow theater. Considered one of the main Canadian painters to have participated in the return of figuration at the end of the 1970s and early 1980s, Elliott is perhaps best known for his oils on large-scale canvas that are part of the collections of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec. More recently, the artist has turned towards the creation of small collage boxes, in the same spirit as the models he used to use for his paintings. Intimate, often sentimental, with a touch of black humor, one would think of seeing vignettes of a theatrical or filmic production. Their diminutive scale belies their emotional and psychological power.
Developing characters from old mannequin heads and archive photos, Elliott says he feels like he’s making movies. In fact, the title of the exhibition “7th Heaven” comes from a romantic melodrama from 1927 by Frank Borzage. While the staging of the artist often pays homage to silent cinema, in this new series we find a certain elasticity with regard to time and place. Some of the works suggest a bygone era, while others seem more current; the artist playing, as he does, between the idea of nostalgia and the value of cultural memory.
The photo of the singer from Greenwich Village, of the mystery novel writer in her basement, the artist in his drywall studio, performers on a dark stage, are all, in a very general sense, an exploration of creative life. It’s also an attempt by the artist to reconstruct something from a life spent balancing realities daily with the collective consciousness of cinema, literature, music, and that cornucopia of the internet. The thrill between everyday life and excitement, between the hyper-real and the obvious falsehood has always been important in David Elliott’s practice. Although the monumental scale and the bewitching and astonishing trompe-l’oeil are sometimes lacking to the artist, he came to appreciate the poetry of the new works. Maybe they are capable of provoking more intimate and deeper emotional responses or maybe they are just more fun and entertaining.
About the artist:
Born in Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1953, David Elliott has lived and worked in Montreal since 1977. He has exhibited his works nationally and internationally for over 40 years. In 1993, the Museo de Arte Moderno de Mexico organized a retrospective of his work entitled “David Elliott: Pintura”. More recently, he exhibited in “The Magic Room” at the Museum Régional de Rimouski (2012), “Collage: Gestures and Fragments”, Museum of Contemporary Art of Montreal (2014), “Constellations”, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (2016) and “Million Dollar Bash” at Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran (2017).
(adapted from the gallery’s press materials)
Galerie Nicolas Robert
10 Rue King
Montreal, Quebec H3C 2N9, Canada
Wednesday-Saturday, 11AM-5PM and by appointment