Contemporary Art Finds (Huge) New Home at Arsenal Gallery

Montreal’s latest, greatest, hugest rentable art space, Arsenal is the brainchild of local collectors Pierre and Anne-Marie Trahan. The couple, who are also behind Division Gallery, has forged new ground further southwest than the city’s art world has yet ventured…

To celebrate the official opening of Arsenal’s grand space – it’s an ex-shipyard that can easily fit 1,000 people at a time, typical of the massive industrial buildings in that area – the exhibition on view now displays works personally collected by the Trahans, as well as Francois Odermatt and Isabelle Kowal. It’s all in context with a special program running in Maisons de la Culture city-wide until June 10, called Collectionner: a spotlight into the various collections that live on Montrealers’ walls. As a viewer, it’s a distinct privilege to get to peek at some of the treasures usually only seen by personal guests and family members.

Among the workds on view now at Arsenal are fabulously textured paintings by the wacky Allison Schulnik from New York (don’t miss the two videos in the projection room on the upper level – they’re amazing), huge canvases by Ottawa’s Marc Seguin, and an impressive installation by German artist Anselm Kiefer. My favourite piece is in the main entrance to the space: an comic/tragic installation featuring a polished tree stump and taxidermy animals called Kingdom of the Emancipated Companion Animal by the Canadian art du Duke and Battersby.

On the upper level are the other two galleries that inhabit this complex, the Trahans’ own Division Gallery, featuring a show about comtemporary Quebec photography until May 5, and Galerie Rene Blouin, where there’s a solo by Anthony Burham. Conceived as an adaptable art space with movable walls perfectly suited ot hosting special events, Arsenal’s main floor is sure to be a go-to spot for both corporate and artsy happenings in the years to come.