Paris Again Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen ‘doodles’ in Winnipeg

Karen Burshtein Writer 

Paris Again Leonard Cohen

“Paris Again” is one of the self portraits from Leonard Cohen on display at Mayberry Fine Art in Winnipeg. (Image courtesy of Mayberry Fine Art)

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA — As Canadians gear up for the home country concert dates of Leonard Cohen, one Winnipeg art gallery is enjoying the opportunity to showcase the revered singer and poet’s artistry.

After similar shows in Vancouver, Edmonton and Kelowna, and in Europe, a selection of lithographs and prints from Cohen’s overall body of work is being exhibited at Mayberry Fine Art gallery. The exhibit was to coincide with Cohen’s Winnipeg tour date, but concerts in support of his latest album, Old Ideas, have been postponed because of a flu outbreak among his band members. The Winnipeg show, slated for March 11, has been re-scheduled for April 26 at the MTS Centre. In the meantime, the Mayberry gallery is the place for fans to get their Cohen fix.

Thirty-five images of richly coloured  or boldly monochromatic graphics are on display at the gallery that is known for promoting Canadian artists. Several of Cohen’s pieces are being previewed for the first time.

“Our mandate is to promote Canadian art and Leonard Cohen is a Canadian icon of song, poetry and literature,” gallery owner Bill Mayberry says. “It’s  nice to add visuals to the mix.”

The subjects of the digitally created images run the gamut from female nudes,  to a colour-soaked image of a table at Cohen’s home on the Greek island of Hydra with an intense Aegean blue predominating, to a portrait of his guitar.

The inspiration for his art and his music and writing play off each other, Cohen has said. He calls his artwork his “doodles” — thoughts in his head at the time he was writing his songs, a part of the process. In describing the practice, Cohen has written:

“From a mirror on my desk
In the very early morning
I copied down
Hundreds of self-portraits
Which reminded me of one thing or another.”

“You see his personality in the art as you can in the music. He’s an excellent draftsman and drawer.  You can see he’s got a hand  that’s very confident with a line,” Mayberry says.  “The pictures are like images of his spoken words.  When you listen to the words then you can really understand the pictures and vice versa; these add another dimension.”

While some of the works adorned album covers and illustrated his poetry, the pictures weren’t made for the purpose of exhibition. They should be considered a visual testimony to 30 years of Cohen’s thought process, Mayberry believes. “These prints have been kept very low key and weren’t made for public consumption in mind,” says Mayberry. “He’s almost had to be encouraged to make them available.”

Foremost among those encouraging the 78-year-old Cohen to go public with the art was Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fame. Nash printed the proofs, using an offset lithography printing facility in California. Nash’s state-of-the-art equipment offers inroads in technology in the visual arts. Unlike traditional forms of reproduction these result in a permanent  pigment printed on watercolour paper that doesn’t lose a lot of its vibrancy like other lithographs.

Called Leonard Cohen — The Poet. The Painter, the exhibit runs until March 23. Shows similar to this one could appear in other Canadian cities.

More About “Leonard Cohen — The Poet. The Painter”

Location: Mayberry Fine Art, 212 McDermot Ave  Winnipeg, MB (see map below)
Telephone: 204-255-5690
Dates: Until March 23, 2013
Hours: 10 am-6 pm, Tuesday-Thursday, 10 am-6 pm; Friday-Saturday, 10 am-5 pm; Sunday-Monday, by appointment

More About Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Tour

Dates: Cohen is on tour throughout the United States and Canada. Visit his website for full concert dates, including those re-scheduled because of his band members’ illness.

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