This selective portrait of 1980s painting in Canada showcases twenty or so paintings and drawings from the collection of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, some on display here for the first time since they were acquired.
The 1980s saw the return of a style of painting that, rather than attempting to follow the course of modernist abstraction inherited from the mid-century avant-gardes, adopted a sometimes disconcerting heterogeneity: figuration and abstraction were employed simultaneously and aesthetic explorations were marked by diversity, but above all by a desire to be free of the previous generation of artists’ conceptual rigour. Alberta-based artist Ron Moppett, from whom we’ve borrowed the title of this exhibition, spoke eloquently of his reticence to apply discourse to his works: “When we use words, we have correspondences so firmly lodged in our brains, but images have to be much more open. Not meaningless or arbitrary, but generous.”
Looking back at this period today, we can establish a number of parallels with recent developments in painting. Beyond stylistic references, why do the pictorial aesthetics developed in the 1980s resonate with a younger generation of artists? What is it about the zeitgeist of today that draws us back to the works gathered here?
Artists: Sylvie Bouchard, Joseph Branco, Gathie Falk, Betty Goodwin, Kathleen Graham, John Heward, Robert Houle, Lynn Hughes, Harold Klunder, Wanda Koop, Medrie MacPhee, Martha Fleming and Lyne Lapointe, Sandra Meigs, Ron Moppett, François Morelli, Leopold Plotek, Leslie Reid, Susan G. Scott, Joanne Tod, Carol Wainio, Shirley Wiitasalo.