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Susannah Wesley
Jim Verburg at Galerie Nicolas Robert
April 22, 2014

I must admit that I always somewhat dread touring the Belgo Building (aka the "art-mall") with its stiflingly hot corridors lined with dozens of commercial galleries and artist run centres, many of which are showing work that leaves little impression on me save indifference. But this weekend I narrowed my focus to the three most promising commercial galleries (that coincidentally were each opening new exhibitions) – Galerie Nicolas Robert, Galerie Hugues Charbonneau and Galerie Donald Browne – and enjoyed all three exhibitions. Jim Verburg's exhibition Afterimage at Galerie Nicolas Robert was particularly strong, tight and playful.

Jim Verburg, Untitled (reflected/repeated #3), 2014, Mono print, Oil based ink painted on glass - rolled, transferred and layered onto newsprint

I've followed Verburg's work for a number of years and enjoyed witnessing the trajectory of his practice from more overtly photo-based and narrative driven work to a multidisciplinary, formally concerned practice, which always manages to maintain an intimate, minimal and poetic quality. With Afterimage, Verburg (now Toronto-based but formally residing in Montreal) has assembled a cohesive body of work loosely investigating the delicate folds and overlaps of light patterns. The spectrum of line, light and shade, from grey to black, is explored through a variety of media and the works are carefully installed in the gallery, often reflecting one another in mimicking and opposing senses. At the vernissage Verburg told me that the work in the exhibition came out of "play" in the studio, and casual playfulness with a variety of media can indeed be witnessed – from ink and roller prints on newsprint, to work with tape and charcoal, layered sheets of mylar, and more sculptural wall work investigating folded forms, including paint applied directly into a corner of the gallery with seeming spontaneity.

Also worth checking out at the Belgo is the group exhibition Echoe 1 at Galerie Hugues Charbonneau, which shares some similar aesthetic concerns with Verburg's Afterimage. Charbonneau has brought together the work of seven artists from his roster to create an intriguing exhibition with a formal premise (the fold) and an uncanny slant. At Galerie Donald Browne, Jérôme Ruby's Save Time - Dessins features a collection of Ruby's lovely figurative drawings, spray-paint works, combined with neons and sculptural work. Happily, after seeing these three shows, I left the Belgo without a whiff of nihilism and with my energy level intact.

Galerie Nicolas Robert:
Jim Verburg: Afterimage continues until May 24.

Susannah Wesley is an artist and curator living in Montreal. She has been a member of the collaborative duo Leisure since 2004 and from 1997-2000 was part of the notorious British art collective the Leeds13. Formerly Director at Battat Contemporary in Montreal, she holds an MFA from the Glasgow School of Art and an MA in Art History from Concordia University. She is Akimblog's new Montreal correspondent and can be followed @susannahwesley1 on Twitter.



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