Seeing Symbols: Karen Tam at Galerie Hugues Charbonneau

Greta Rainbow was the co-editor-in-chief and a contributing writer for The Belgo Report

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The Belgo building, Montreal’s largest center of the visual arts, is situated in the heart of downtown Montreal. The Belgo is currently home to over 30 art galleries and artist’s studios. The Belgo Report features information about exhibitions and events taking place in the galleries of the Belgo building. We also publish reviews of the art shows and events we visited here.

“Walking trepidly around Galerie Hugues Charbonneau, wincing as shoes crush the foil Chinese coins in silver and gold, is like tiptoeing out of a child’s bedroom when bedtime stories have lulled them at last. It is a sweet space: bright pastels, tactile objects, animals, constellation prints on the walls like day-glo stars. But there is something slumbering that we know will rumble when it wakes.

It’s the napping political significance, of course. Karen Tam critiques the contemporary art world’s tendency to blend and appropriate cultural forms until their history and politics are lost. The meaning isn’t overt when just looking, but her work is imbued with a questioning of the relationship between Asia and the Americas and its disoriented representation. Yet, the exhibition guide nuances, the artist maintains a subtle distinction between the original source of inspiration and her own interpretation from which emerges a clear critique that activates cultural and identity issues relating to racism and the globalization of trade.”