Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain

Dana Velan

April 9 - 30, 2016
Opening: Saturday April 9 from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Artist will be present

Open Fridays and Saturdays from 12 pm to 5 pm.

Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain project space
372 Ste-Catherine West, suite 221, Montreal H3B 1A2



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Clouds of dust and diagrams
By Amanda Beattie

To be whisked away in a sea of colour, a flurry of movement and light; cast away in a gentle storm, strewn here and there, at the will of the invisible forces that govern time and space. A speck among millions of others, a circle radiating from within itself, like a drop of water rippling out into an endless sea. An overwhelming and overpowering experience, both chaotic and calming, confusing and clear.

This is the effect of Dana Velan’s Nebulas series (2014 to 2015). She creates a space like none that we know in our immediate physical surroundings. It is a space that is beyond, out of reach. But it is also a space that is within – our inner landscapes – that we can, perhaps, access at will. All of the mysteries of the universe, tucked away infinitely inside every one of us. The ultimate connection. The essence of our beings.

The Nebulas series is here paired with a work from the series Legendless (2012). It is a labyrinth, of sorts, a map that seemingly leads to nowhere. It can be followed, traced by a finger. Multiple pathways suggest multiple possibilities, diverging down different alleyways, through a web of tangled streams. But it has no destination. It is, rather, a kind of network. Like individual grains of sand coming together to form a beach, or dust particles assembling to form clouds like in her Nebulas works, Velan’s tiny black marks converge and diverge into clusters of activity.

These series of pathways give the impression that they are alive and can breath, and ebb and flow in their own right. This is not a route heading toward something or somewhere in particular, nor is it a diagram with specific instructions to follow. It will not lead us to the nebulas in the sky or within ourselves. It just is, in it’s own right. It is everywhere and nowhere all at once.

The bird’s eye view we are granted in this Legendless work allows a privileged perspective, one which encourages a deeper reflection. With the Nebulas series, we are in the works, actively involved and sharing the space with the explosions of colour. And yet despite these differences, both the Legendless work and the Nebulas series form part of the hallucination that Velan indulges in us: answers to questions we didn’t know we had, in the form of more questions.

The rhythmic abstraction formed by the bursts of colour in the Nebulas series, paired with the linear disorder and the meticulously sculpted circular forms in the Legendless work, further point to the vast realm of the unknown. Clouds of dust and diagrams become hazy and out of focus. We are left with a feeling of vertigo as we meander through the cyclical colour wheel that Velan spins.


Dana Velan, an artist living and working in Montreal, Canada, left her native Czecho-Slovakia during the political turmoil of 1968. She earned a degree in Art History at McGill University and a degree in Fine Arts at Concordia University in Montreal, and her MFA at Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, Boston, Massachusets.

Velan started as a printmaker but soon moved on to work on drawings, one-of-a-kind books and some 3-dimensional pieces. Her life experiences and travels through the unusual landscapes, such as Iceland, Australia and Africa, contribute inspiration to her unique artistic aesthetic. She creates in series. Nests, Hearths, Stages, Fire, Nightland, Termination Flags and Legendless are just a few titles of her drawings. Nightland series are large-scale drawings (90” x 126”) which demonstrate her interest in natural phenomena and their impact on the human soul. Using oil sticks on Mylar, Velan created images that are metaphors for our inner landscape.

Drawings of Legendless series escape exact definitions. They can be images of cells and veins as they criss-cross inside a body, or they can be rivers and roads, towns and cities, mountains and lakes in landscapes seen from above. Some are executed in pen and ink and watercolor, and some with oils sticks on Mylar. These maps very loosely pretend to reality. But at the end they are the lines, cellular dots and watery stains that contract and expand in the space of white paper or Mylar.

Velan’s artistic practice is formed by the perception of nature as a site of transformation. The creation of her new series of drawings titled Nebulae, (return to the large scale (90”x126”, and oil sticks on Mylar medium), involved a close observation of numerous astronomical photographs depicting nebulas, such as the Eagle, the Orion and the Crab nebulas. These images were used as a starting point to craft free interpretations. Giving the impression that these images could spread infinitely outside of the frames, these drawings when presented together in an exhibition space, envelop the visitors in a universe filled with the movement, energy, darkness and light, and encourage us to reflect on our own inner landscape. Blending together inner and external landscapes without giving the coordinate system leaves the images open to a number of unknown meditations..


- Dan Velan's website.