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HUED INQUISITIONS

Introducing Rooftop Garden (2022), a series by Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber (MDNF) from Winnipeg, Canada, whose work typically takes the audience by surprise and reminds us of a sequence of moments and possibilities from our private pasts to our common future.

ARTWORK BY MDNF 

TEXT BY MONTY ESGUIN

 

Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber are modern narrators, who ingeniously fill the voids in our current pursuits embarked on with urgency and subdue us at the right moments, as we pursue our needs. Although their simple drawings initially appear to be the work of a child, the words used on their minuscule canvases reveal that our gripping little adventures are not as naïve as they appear and warrant more than a currente calamo narrative.
 

The creative duo gained fame with their Typing series, that started in 2011 and achieved international acclaim after qualifying as finalists at the 2014 Sobey Art Award, Canada's biggest award given to young artists, under the age of 40. Their work is now featured in the permanent col- lections of museums and art institutions such as La Maison Rouge (Paris), Museum Folkwang (Essen), El Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Caja de Burgos and the Takashi Murakami private collection. 

 

Dumontier and Farber met while they were students at the University of Manitoba, in the 1990s. Their collaboration as artists started in 1996, when they were amongst the founders of the Royal Art Lodge, an art collective which existed until 2008, after which point they continued to work together on other projects. Over the years, the duo have established a tradition of meeting each other every Wednesday, whether it be for spending free time and having fun, or working on new creations for hours in their workshop. The so-called ‘Wednesday Tradition’ could involve a long discussion, or add- ing the final touches to their latest works of art. Whatever the task of the day may be, the music never stops playing in the workshop. 

MDNF’s library is not a place for pretentious and exaggerated sermons. It is instead a playground, a speaker’s platform where everyone who looks deep enough will find a piece of their own troubles, or a snippet of current global issues. The micro-universes Michael and Neil construct on their canvases resemble time tunnels that make it possible to travel back in time and relive a moment, after having stumbled down the rugged roads of adulthood, or to briefly put everything in our lives on pause and satisfy our need to stop and think.
 

The artists might be long-standing collaborators, but they also work individually and it is interesting to see how different their styles are. Neil paints multi-layered and surreal paintings; whereas Michael’s work resembles an individual minimalist style using sculpture, collage and painting. Their collaborative creations, titled The MDNF Series, seem to be distilled from extended conversations that merge new configurations, common interests, inspiring and uplifting music, planetary developments and emotions around them.