Hockey and Art on the Same Card

Montreal Artist Mashes Contemporary Art, Pop Culture and Sports in Concordia Installation

  • Montreal artist Marc-Antoine K. Phaneuf poses in front of his exhibition Canadian Painting. Photos Brandon Johnston

  • Photos Brandon Johnston

For many Canadians, collecting and trading hockey cards was a childhood staple. As these children grew older, however, many lost interest in their set of cards and left them to collect dust in a basement, where they probably remain today.

But Marc-Antoine K. Phaneuf, a young artist from Montreal, has decided to use his hockey card collection as a statement to prove that art isn’t reserved for stuffy intellectuals and can be displayed through everyday figments of pop culture—including sports.

“I feel like artists don’t take on the theme of sports enough. Most of them would rather talk about politics and social issues,” said Phaneuf, whose installation Canadian Painting is on display in a giant white cube on the ground floor of Concordia’s Hall Building.

“With my work, I want to show people how sports can be perceived when you look at it through an aesthetic point of view.”

Phaneuf’s work is the ninth edition of a line of exhibitions, dubbed Sightings, which was launched by Concordia’s Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery in 2012.

What began as a project to display Concordia students’ work, evolved into one also looking to promote artists across Montreal to “generate new strategies of display and to test the limits of its adaptability,” according to the gallery’s website.

“I first started by putting together cards where you see players in a certain motion, doing a certain thing, cards where you’d see a player trying to move away from a puck or yell because something had happened,” said Phaneuf.

“Because when you take a photo, your goal is to freeze a moment in time.

“Then I started thinking about what form [my work could] take and I started putting cards together on a big board. That’s when it started looking like abstract painting,” Phaneuf continued.

“I want people to look at it from afar and from up close because they won’t see the same things. This way you can notice the confrontation I’m trying to show between popular culture and the elite culture.”

In order to complete his work, Phaneuf selected about 3,000 hockey cards he picked from a collection of over 12,000.

“I like the fact that my artwork can be seen by anybody walking around the building. Each time I go around the cube, I see many people in front of it. They look fascinated,” said Phaneuf.

“I think people like looking at [Canadian Painting] because they see all those different hockey cards and it brings back memories from their childhood,” Phaneuf said.

“I hope that people will have a magic moment while looking at my work. I want them to be like, ‘Wow, this is reminding me of so many memories’ and ‘Wow, I’ve been watching this artwork for five minutes and I’d look at it for another 10 minutes.’”

Phaneuf’s instillation can be seen at Concordia until June 12.

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