Montreal Artist Collective Centres Exhibit Around Botanical Imagery

Photo courtesy of Collectif Blanc
Photo courtesy of Collectif Blanc
Photo courtesy of Collectif Blanc

Exploring the floral theme, curatorial platform Collectif Blanc is presenting its third pop-up exhibition bringing together artists, editors and designers from all around the world to exchange and meet the Montreal public.

As part of the “Banquet de Jean” series of events inaugurating the new Shamrock Square near the Jean-Talon Market, Collectif Blanc paired up with Garçon Fleur—a company specializing in flower delivery by bicycle—to showcase hundreds of publications, ranging from rare vintage books to homemade zines on botany.

This one-of-a-kind initiative takes on the mission of making high-end graphic design accessible to both connoisseurs of the genre and the curious public.

On this occasion, people will not only be able to discover unique pieces and avant-garde design practices, but also meet and exchange with several different artists. The collection includes a series of rare Japanese publications on flower design collected over several years by a Japanese editor, who specifically sent them over for the event.

Collectif Blanc also collaborated with graphic design company L’abricot, which will provide a print workshop designed for the event, allowing people to make their own floral posters using custom-made stencils.

Being a very vast thematic, the floral imagery allows for a great array of different interpretations, from romantic to conceptual and abstract. Some artists perceive the flower as an erotic symbol, whereas others link it to classical art periods or architectural gardens.

Gabriel Jasmin, an independent graphic designer from Montreal, explained that his approach consisted of focusing on the more historical representations of flowers during the Renaissance period.

“I looked at the subject from a different perspective. I’m not really into flowers or bright colors and I thought about the classical gardens like the Luxembourg Gardens, for instance,” he said.

“I did some research and I found these old printed books dating from the 1920s at the library. I then did a sort of summary of what I found in these books to explain the theories about the Gardens from the Italian Renaissance. I created a little zine playing with the layout and the images.”

The juxtaposition of contemporary works and more traditional botanical publications creates a harmonious combination in which vintage pieces and more recent creations feed off each other’s creative impulses.

Thanks to this platform, Collectif Blanc wishes to widen the horizons of graphic design and demonstrate that designers rightfully deserve to be considered as artists.

Marie-Ève Tourigny, a graphic designer and co-founder of Collectif Blanc, explains that many people, especially in Quebec, have preconceived ideas about design and lack opportunities to come into contact with design and print art.

“We see how the medium is changing and the growth of fascinating initiatives in print emerging here and abroad. In our view, these initiatives are at the forefront of what the medium will become and the transformation it currently undergoes. However, they are not receiving enough visibility and that’s what we aim to change with our pop-up events,” said Tourigny.

Not only will this curatorial platform give the public access to incredible pieces, integrating culture into our everyday lives, but it also encourages intercultural collaborations between artists and editors from different parts of the world.

Brazilian publishing house Kaput Livros, as well as the British publishing house Book Stand, which specializes in floral publications, provided exceptional contributions. A French group, called French Fourche, invited a group of Quebec-based designers to come and showcase their work in France this fall.

“We created this group in 2013 and we are the only one of this kind in Quebec. We realized the demand was very high and we were contacted by an incredible amount of people who wanted to collaborate with us, especially from abroad,” said Tourigny.

The closing party will take place at creative studio NOMAD Nation on Sept. 21. The event will be a little bit different and edgier, including more provocative works that can’t be showcased in a public space. For the occasion, Garçon Fleur, temporarily renamed Gaspar & Roy, will be selling homemade flower-based cocktails and beer. The exhibition will run the entire day, punctuated by a series of different performances.

Although the principal goal isn’t to become an art fair or selling space, most of the works showcased are quite accessible as Collectif Blanc wishes to stay away from the elitist circles by bringing design into the streets for everyone to enjoy.

Their next pop-up event will follow the thematic of typography. The location has already been reserved but cannot yet be revealed. Tourigny hinted that it will be somewhere in a deserted factory.

Collective Blanc: Édition Florale Exhibition // Sept. 13, 14 and 21 // Shamrock Square (70 Shamrock Ave.) // 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. // Free Admission