PAPIER 15 preview at CreativeMornings Montréal

Valérie Kolakis “Box 1″ Donald Browne Gallery (Montreal)

by Rebecca West

Papier15 is an annual contemporary art fair based on Montreal, dedicated exclusively to the promotion of art on paper. We’re lucky to have a small preview of the exhibition at our upcoming CreativeMornings Montréal event this Friday, appropriately themed “Ink”, and conveniently located in the same Mile End building as the upcoming art fair.

Fair ambassador Bill Clarke explains their approach: “There is a wide range of work that can be made on paper – drawings, collage, small paintings, prints, abstract or figurative – and, for many artists, paper-based work is central to their practice.”  Produced by the Contemporary Art Galleries Association (AGAC) and now in its 8th edition, we chatted with Simone Rochon, Communications Manager at the AGAC about the significance in 2015 of an art fair focused on paper works, and their connection to the broader Montreal creative community.

Sara Angelucci “Arboretum (Maple tree with Goldfinch)” Patrick Mikhail Gallery

With so many opportunities for artists to be working with digital and new media in 2015, why focus exclusively on paper artwork?

This special focus is what makes Papier so unique. We may at first think of paper as a more traditional medium, but it actually offers a huge range of possibilities to artists! Works on paper at the fair include drawing, print, photography, collage, sculpture, installation and even new media work. Jessica Bradley Gallery, for example, will be presenting an installation by Jon Sasaki, where confetti is slowly being dropped from a conveyer belt. Artist Valérie Kolakis, from Donald Browne Gallery, will be presenting a bronze sculpture that looks exactly like an old cardboard box. It’s a play on the way we perceive the medium of paper and on the preciousness we usually associate to a work of art.

Another reason behind this focus on the medium of paper is that prints, drawings and photographs, for example, are typically more affordable than a painting or a sculpture. This means that they are also a great way to start collecting! Having this focus is a good and simple way to convince visitors that contemporary art can be both accessible and affordable.

Jon Sasaki “A Machine To Release One Burst Of Confetti Gradually Over The Duration Of An Exhibition” 2011. Jessica Bradley Gallery (Toronto)

Has the Papier audience evolved since the fair’s launch 8 years ago? 

Since our first edition, we’ve seen our audience grow significantly from approximately 4,000 to 18,000 visitors. There are many different types of visitors at Papier… What’s great is that the event draws in people who wouldn’t necessarily visit art galleries, but who after discovering Papier become more curious about contemporary art. There’s a very friendly atmosphere at the fair and this is one of the reasons visitors come back year after year. Of course, Papier attracts an array of art enthusiasts, art students, art professionals, art patrons and collectors.

Yann Pocreau “Lumieres” 2015. Galerie Simon Blais

What was the impetus for the move to Mile End from the Quartier des spectacles?

Unfortunately, there is major construction planned on the vacant lot we occupied last year. It was impossible to predict when exactly the construction work would start… and far too risky to plan the fair knowing theses dates could change.

When we visited the Complexe de Gaspé, we were at once impressed and excited. The space is beautiful and the view is breathtaking. The size of the space offers huge potential – this translates into more space for visitors and larger booths for galleries.

The Gaspé hub is also home to six artist-run centres and hundreds of artists’ studios. In recent years, it has become a burgeoning venue for contemporary Canadian art, with the highest density of artists and cultural workers in the country.

Papier15′s new digs at Complexe de Gaspé in Mile End

What advice would you have for the first-time art buyer looking to start a collection?

First, do some research to narrow down and focus on what you really like. The more you see, the better! Visit galleries, exhibition centers, art fairs or museums and research artists online. 

Set a budget. If you are starting a collection, you might want to give preference to emerging artists whose works are often more affordable. Of course, works on paper, especially editions like prints and photographs, are always a good way to start on a modest budget. It’s also good to know that a lot of galleries offer payment plans. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and let the gallerist help you through the process. It’s their job to give you a history about the artist and information about his/her artistic practice.

Most importantly, don’t be intimidated! Trust your instincts and don’t underestimate an emotional connection you have to an artwork… a big part of buying art is selecting pieces you are naturally drawn to.

Papier Spokesperson Karine Vanasse at last year’s event. Credit: ARHphoto.

Is there anything special that we can look forward to at this year’s edition?

There are many new features to look forward to this year! We have a fantastic program of daily talks and tours with an impressive line up of guests and experts. Papier Projects, a new component of the fair, will showcase large-scale works, installations and site-specific works. We also have a new art video progam, which comprises of a dozen video works presented in a special screening room. All these activities are free.

Papier15 kicks off with a VIP benefit cocktail on Thursday April 23rd at 6 p.m. and opens to the public for free on Friday April 24th. For more info visit or buy your VIP tickets here.