Culture  White, black, and everything in between

"Skeletonic" showcases emerging artists' work

“‘Skeletonic’ is the powerful disintegration of colour to its purest universal chaotic form,” explained Mira, the curator of the new exhibit featured at Cinéma du Parc. As it turns out, the “purest form” basically translates to “black-and-white” in this exhibition, put together by Sugar for Brains, a McGill-based, not-for-profit visual arts initiative. With a focus on showcasing emerging artists from all walks of life, the pieces are varied, interesting, and hit more often than they miss.

Inspired by a love of old movies, Mira explained that, “initially I was going to make the exhibition a simple homage to black-and-white films.” But the idea grew, so that now the exhibition plays out like someone’s thought process. “Combined,” Mira elaborated, “the pieces might seem overwhelming and chaotic, but that’s just what a stream of consciousness is: unadulterated thought.”

So “Skeletonic” does not present a coherent message, but that’s not really what it’s going for. Sugar for Brains is more interested in promoting “overlooked, emerging artists (regardless of educational background),” explained Mira. At the moment they’re working in Montreal, but eventually Mira hopes to reach the rest of Canada, and then maybe further.

While Mira acknowledges that “McGill doesn’t have a visual arts program, so there aren’t many opportunities for McGillians to showcase their pieces,” anyone – not just McGill students – could submit their work for “Skeletonic,” and over 150 artists did. The talent on display is certainly impressive, and the “great mix of voices” Mira wanted is evident. Barred from using colour, the artists have turned to different media for variety. There are ink drawings, digital paintings, collages, lithographs, photography, charcoal works, pastel works, and painting on canvas and wood. The theme avoids its potential for monotony, but this is largely due to the immersive quality of the work rather than, as Mira claims, black-and-white works’ power to let viewers “fill in their own colours with their imaginations” (much like a black-and-white film might do).

Naomi Aldrich’s Trace Variations, which consists of simple ink patterns on paper, are startling and resemble the Rorschach Inkblot Test, while Sarah Galarnea’s lithograph Planet 1 (Tomato) is eerie in the extreme, a picture of a distant galaxy with the contrast turned way down. Mark Lavorato’s photos are very compelling, recalling the organic human geometry captured by Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Iris Apostolescu’s digital painting Voyage matches the relatively new medium with a forward-looking, almost sci-fi vision of children at play. Jono Currier’s three drawings, which vary from a map-like landscape to a subdued portrait, are linked by the arc of a flare in the night. It’s ingenious, and feels like it could be the beginning of a project with near-infinite scope. Almost every work deserves to be lingered upon, and Mira isn’t exaggerating much when she says “each piece has a powerful idea” behind it.

Considering “Skeletonic” is Sugar for Brain’s first exhibition, the prospect of what could follow is exciting. In fact, work has already begun on the next show. Apparently the theme is suggested in the final piece of “Skeletonic” – but Mira isn’t giving much away, so viewers need to head on down to Cinéma du Parc to try and figure it out themselves.

“Skeletonic” is on display at Cinéma du Parc (3575 Parc) until April 28.