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The Past Is Before You

Arnie Lipsey

From June 27
5220 boul. Saint-Laurent
$8 suggested admission

In the Garden

In the Garden
2020, Acrylic on Canvas

How can exploring a family archive transform our understanding of the collective present?

The Past Is Before You explores this question by considering how memories can be examined, reimagined and even uplifted, shedding new light on the artist’s personal history.

An exercise in catharsis, Arnie Lipsey’s paintings forgo linear time, choosing instead to collapse the past, present, and future. Each work begins with an archival family photograph, and branches out into thematic explorations of war, survival, immigration, family life, as well as leisure. Lipsey’s paintings depict everyday Jewish life in Eastern Europe and Montreal from his family’s vantage point, highlighting stories transmitted across generations that are simultaneously loving, comforting, humorous, and haunting.

Evoking the spirit of magical realism, Lipsey’s dreamlike compositions lie somewhere along the boundaries of fantasy and reality: saturated hues replace the black-and-white source material, and figures are posed in the midst of often-surreal and multi-temporal settings. By filling in the blanks of family lore, it feels logical that Lipsey’s compositions lean into the absurd and surreal. Lipsey’s paintings call into question the potential of art as a tool to grasp ancestral memories that are not entirely our own.

To some – and especially among those Jewish families who experienced displacement and have a limited historical record – the family photo album is a private, even sacred, object. In vivid colour, The Past Is Before You demonstrates alternative methods and new possibilities for preserving the family archive.

Look Out
2022, Acrylic on canvas

Arnie Lipsey

Alyssa Stokvis-Hauer

Austin Henderson

Taryn Fleishchmann     Austin Henderson
Alyssa Stokvis-Hauer

Benoit Pelletier

Shopdogs MTL      Kayl Doble, Paint MTL

MFBB Lettrage Photolab      Papetrie Zoubris

Artists’ Biography

The son of European-Jewish immigrants, Arnie Lipsey was born and raised in Montreal, and is a graduate of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts School of Art and Design where he majored in Film Animation. After working for a period in the nascent Israeli animation industry, he relocated to Toronto in 1978 where he had a decades-long career in animation for film and television. Working in the classical mode (as director, animator, designer, and storyboard artist) using pencil and paper, he later made a successful transition to digital technologies. Arnie augmented his commercial work with independent filmmaking, producing two animated shorts that have been screened internationally. In 2018, he returned to his early artistic discipline: painting. He has exhibited and won awards in juried exhibitions and curated group shows in Ontario and Florida, and participated as an arts grants juror in St. Petersburg.