Bogdan Achimescu (Warsaw), Matilda Aslidazeh (Vancouver), Rebecca Belmore (Vancouver), Jake & Dinos Chapman (London), Dana Claxton (Vancouver), Douglas Coupland (Vancouver), Jeremy Deller (London), Mario Doucette (Frederickton) David Garneau (Regina), William Kentridge (Johannesburg), Farad Khan (New York), Wanda Koop (Winnipeg), Emanuel Licha (Montreal/Paris), Shirin Neshat (New York), Michael Patterson-Carver (Seattle), Dan Perjovschi (Bucharest), Raymond Petition (Los Angeles), Nancy Spero (deceased), Althea Thauberger (Vancouver), Jason Thiry (Regina), Scott Waters (Toronto), Balint Zako (New York)
Diabolique included the work of 22 international and Canadian artists exploring war and violence comprised of an eclectic mix of devilish dioramas, cruel vignettes, diary or journal entry drawings, text and collage narrative influenced by human conflict, the grotesque and the gruesome, masks, hybrids, surreal scenes that remind us of Goya’s Disasters of War or Dante’s Inferno. In some instances, the work shows a fiery sexuality and female ‘heroines’ claiming the role of victor and solider, reversing the stereotypical male domain of combat. In others, the protagonist is a solitary male, making his way through the universe, preoccupied by existential questions about the state of the social and political world. Other artists are making spontaneous and temporary black marker statements about yesterday, today and tomorrow. Where do we go from here?
Whether the artists are making comment on the current war in Iraq, or the Apartheid in South Africa, to the war in Kosovo or the Vietnam War, we see the influence of guns, terrorists, masked men, Ku Klux Klan, Nazis, the loss of life in high numbers, all the paraphernalia relating to war and historical and contemporary conflict. The images are frightening and threatening, and remind us that we have lived and still live in a day and age plagued by fear.
The media that the artists embrace ranges from detailed dioramas where actors in a mis-en-scene are playing out a dark drama; a charcoal drawing animation of a life of a middle-aged man; a car bomb exploding on the walls and sculpture, drawing and collage. A sometimes naïve, child-like approach to adult subject matter renders the artwork with an other-wordly quality steeped in reality.
The title of the exhibition is inspired by Les Diaboliques (1954), a black-and-white French terror classic film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, starring Simone Signoret and Véra Clouzot. The title translates as ‘The Devils’, but that is where the similarities end. Diabolique is also the French word for ‘diabolic’ or ‘diabolical’, as the works in the exhibition will be evocative of dark, disturbing, puzzling, frightening and surreal qualities – words associated with violence and human conflict.