CK2 Gallery Preview

Previewing CK2 with co-directors Jessica Kirsh and Stephanie Creaghan
By Loreta Lamargese

CK2, the newest gallery to open its door in Montreal, is a joint venture by Jessica Kirsh and Stephanie Creaghan. Both are familiar with the operations of the Canadian art market; Kirsh having dipped her toes in the proverbial pool of the Toronto contemporary art scene as a former assistant at Clint Roenisch and Parisian Laundry, while Creaghan is no stranger to start-up galleries—this is her second after LOCK, which closed its doors this summer. Nevertheless, in speaking to them I could sense that there is something uncompromisingly novel and untried in their latest endeavor.

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They are both teeming with enthusiasm, for one. Having just hung their first show, Preview, which opens Thursday, they bring me on a tour around the space which houses paintings and drawings by Aidan Pontarini, Simone Blain, Selina Doroshenko, Carly Mark, Marvin Luvualu Antonio, Raúl Aguilar Canela, and Team Macho. Preview, Kirsh explains, functions as a sort of framing for the gallery. It illustrates a clear picture of what is to come: a theoretical and aesthetic conversation between geographically separated artists working in Toronto, Montreal, and New York. The framing implied in the title of the show is further literalized in the two-dimensionality of all the works on display: “For the first show, we chose drawings and paintings, works that could be easily be transported. Works on paper and on canvas are mobile, allowing for fluidity in the current market. They are also works that live in frames, which come with this finishing. Preview offers a similar kind of frame, like the one found on a screen, a kind of preview.”



Marvin Luvualu Antonio, Experience Pleasure, 2014


Much of the excitement that Creaghan and Kirsh share in their new project stems from the belief that they are bringing something new to Montreal. “There’s so much happening now that we don’t see in Montreal,” Kirsh states, with Creaghan adding, “as an emerging artist, either you’re showing at an artist run center or—or, that’s really it. There’s such a disparity, a divide, between what’s shown in artist run centers and what’s shown in commercial galleries. I want to find a happy medium.” Many of the artists featured in Preview have had the pleasure of showing in spaces positioned at said intersection, albeit in other cities. 8-11 in Toronto, Muddguts in Brooklyn (which is presently having its final show), Tomorrow Gallery, from its beginnings in Toronto to its present realization in New York, all offer examples for Creaghan and Kirsh.

The directors have established CK2 with an understanding that there is a pre-existing community in Montreal who “get it.” Operating as a kind of inside-joke for an in-the-know audience, the title of the gallery reverberates this sentiment. The gallery trades in this brand of humor and Preview is testament to this. For the inaugural group show, AIMIA recipient Marvin Luvualu Antonio’s Experience Pleasure is on view. Comprised of a pair of shredded men’s white underwear emblazoned with Calvin Klein in hand-written letters, stretched across a red, black, and yellow frame, Experience Pleasure activates a kind of double-entendre within the piece itself, as well as in relation to the gallery. This clever humor runs throughout the show, a direct result of the personalities of the gallery directors. There is tacit understanding between them, one built on years of friendship, jokes, and long and thoughtful conversations about art. This relationship is now made manifest in the physical space of the gallery and in the works on display. “I just trust her,” Creaghan says matter-of-factly, and Kirsh gives her a look as if to mutually agree. With that firmly planted in mind, they’re ready to take the leap together.

11.20.2014 – 12.11.2014
Vernissage: 11.20, 18h – 21h
203-6560 Esplanade
Montreal, Canada