Edmund Alleyn and Michael Merrill: Art Forms

In 1967, Edmund Alleyn presented his exhibition conditioning, initially from April 26 to May 23, at Galerie Blumenthal-Mommaton in Paris, then from October 3 to 24, at Galerie Soixante in Montreal. French critic Gérald Gassiot-Talabot — who in the same year founded the art review OPUS International — signed the text of the presentation accompanied by a poem by Michel Butor. All of which form a pamphlet with color photographs, a small work which – by the way – is sorely lacking in contemporary art galleries these days. But it can’t be helped, it’s rare to have visitors currently in commercial galleries reading about art. The question for buyers is more about how much it is worth and how much it is worth, not about what…

Between 1965 and 1970, Alleyn was in a technological period. He confessed to critic Yves Robillard that after working on “Indian mythology” – a series produced between 1962 and 1964 – he wanted to invest in “more modern mythology”. He shows how humans are being attacked by machines. Gassiot-Talabot explains that his diagrams showing individuals being devoured by various instruments, probes, prostheses tell us about “human violations in his body and in his consciousness”. What the notion of human alienation by technology looks like did not originate with the invention of the Internet or the smartphone, as some have repeated ad nauseam, Without thinking ! And at that point, we could already explain that this idea dates back to at least the 19th century.e centuries, if not the Renaissance, when intellectual reflection was opposed to the mechanical work of artisans, slaves of matter. The series maintains ties to pop art, but also to what Gassiot-Talabot calls “narrative figuration”, an art which protested more clearly than the Anglo-Saxon movement.

And amateurs will be able to appreciate this rich period of Alleyn art thanks to an exhibition entitled Technology diagrams (1966-1967) shown today. A contemporary masterpiece by a famous Introscape built Alleyn between 1968 and 1970, Canada’s first immersive multimedia creation, which was also shown in Paris and Montreal.

Michael Merrill

For his newest series of oil on canvas, executing in 2022, Michael Merrill limited himself. Each one is made in one day in his studio. It has to be said that this isn’t the first time Merrill has painted with this current intensity. In fact, his work often oscillates between methodical and patient work done over a long period – sometimes linked to photographs – and creations done in a more spontaneous manner, on the spot… An amateur will remember, among other things, his work presented at the same gallery in 2016, work for which Merrill has represented major ground art venues in the United States. He has painted these sites “on motive”, in a very short time, in the desert, with particular urgency, while the temperature outside is sky high…

Here, Merrill conducted a kind of sociological study in his studio, which could have belonged to many artists. The artist explains that “the act of making art is the subject” of the series. In his oils we find images by Picasso, Goya, Géricault, but also African sculptures and various commercial products or functional objects that he had at his workplace. There are often surprising formal correspondences between these disparate elements that do not serve the same symbolic function. Referring to Giacometti, Merrill spoke of the fact that “the act of perceiving the world becomes the subject of the work itself”. As such, he brilliantly manages to challenge us to a fundamental question: what differentiates art from what isn’t? And the explanation doesn’t just come from a sociological context. He provided evidence of a trip he took in 2013 to view the rock art. Despite the fact that “we are not so sure about their function, these works still touch us completely”, the artist concludes.

Edmund Alleyn. Techno schemes, 1966-1967 / Michael Merrill. Dead nature

At the Roger Bellemare and Christian Lambert gallery, through February 18

To see in the video

Posted in Art

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