Culture  Country art, city art

Quebec artist Marc Dulude approaches rural landscapes in downtown gallery space

When you think about Montreal’s diverse art community, Ste. Catherine does not immediately come to mind. But if you leave the busy downtown shopping district behind and step inside the Belgo Building, just off of Jeanne-Mance, you’ll be met with a striking, formerly industrial space filled with design firms, dance centres, and art galleries. One of those spaces, Galerie SAS, is currently hosting Montreal-based sculptor Marc Dulude’s newest multimedia exhibition, and may well merit a visit.

Dulude’s work, on display at SAS until October 31, centres on the way people relate to natural landscapes in an increasingly fast-paced and urban age. Through his art, Dulude asks if we can, while being so far removed from them, still have a relationship with forests, mountains, and meadows. Though these may seem like the tired existential queries of a philosophy classroom, in exploring the subject, Dulude creates a haunting, ethereal exhibit, beautifully enacting the fleeting connection between humans and nature.

Using multiple mediums, the exposition affords Dulude the opportunity to explore the relationship between the organic and the technological. Instead of displaying his sculptures, the viewer is only shown their depictions through photography and film, demonstrating just how removed we are from the natural world, and nature’s limited effect on distanced observers.

Dulude is fresh from a residency at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, an experience that inspired many of his recent works. His art is partially motivated by a recurring desire to explore different materials and all their possibilities, and his current three-part exhibit is no exception.

As part of his attempt to rethink scenery and contrast the natural with the man-made, Dulude has included two photographs, “Kaleidoscopique 1 and 2”, into his exhibit at SAS. Meant to represent landscapes, these extreme close-ups of aluminum foil reflect and refract the lights of Dulude’s studio, giving the impression of fantastically coloured scenery.

Another piece, “The Invisible Bike”, is a fully functional bicycle covered in mirrors, and presents a welcome alternative to the fast-paced travel to which modern society has become accustomed. Reflecting the countryside through which it is being ridden, the bike seems non-existent, completely erasing the rider’s connection to the material world while also allowing the viewer to see through the eyes of the cyclist. Dulude says that he chooses his materials for their physical, formal, or symbolic qualities, and “The Invisible Bike” is in alignment with this opinion. The bicycle itself flawlessly represents the act of slowing down and enjoying scenery from outside a car, while still retaining its manufactured attributes.

“Foggy Mirror” – named after the phenomenon in which Highland fog is so thick that a person can see his reflection in it – is an eerie film following the twists and turns of mist and fog through an impossibly still and undisturbed scale model of a mountain range built by Dulude himself. An accompanying photograph titled “Night Hill” strengthens the recurring theme of reflection, and further emphasizes the way we look at, live in, and relate to nature.

All three works impart to us the unique way in which a sculptor interacts with landscapes. In an effort to reinvent how art depicts nature, the scenes shown are not traditional paintings or photographs, but man-made objects that Dulude hopes better represent our relationship with the natural world.

Although the artist was deeply affected by his residency in Scotland, his work remains firmly rooted in Montreal. When the Galerie SAS proposed that Dulude present his work at their space, he accepted, stating that it was rare for a private gallery to showcase multimedia art. Marc Dulude’s captivatingaddition to the Montreal art world is an intriguing step away from the hustle and bustle of the Montreal downtown.

Marc Dulude’s exhibition runs through October 31 at Galerie SAS (372 Ste Catherine O. Suite 416)