Sometimes cities, though human-designed, can seem rather human-unfriendly places. Tricked out with concrete that ices in the winter and steams in the summer, cut through by roaring traffic and its poisonous exhaust, most cities are only wholly pleasant to those who can afford to escape them.
Melvin Charney has thought long and hard on these things, both as an artist and as an architect. Since the 1950s, he’s been making drawings, paintings, sculptures and even some political controversy on the topic—his 1976 “Corridart” project in Montreal, which critiqued urban policies, was famously torn down by Drapeau on the eve of the Olympics.
Now, with “Troubling Images of an Ideal World…” an exhibit of work in progress at Art Mûr, we see Charney puzzling further over how human bodies can fit into the city. In one image, he turns skyscrapers into anthropomorphic joggers; in another, he squeezes fleshy organs into a street-grid pattern stolen from the local newspaper.
Charney’s work is complemented at Art Mûr by an artist who explores a different kind of architecture—that of the cultural and mental spheres. Jinny Yu’s graphically appealing paintings and drawings on aluminum weave cultural symbols in and out of each other, resulting in a meditation on the nomadic cultures that populate our (as Charney shows, rather nomadic) cities today. (5826 St Hubert, Montreal QC)