in my city: naked ladies and student strikes

in mid-april, we had a mini heatwave in québec city and were luckily able to take full advantage of it. simon and i dusted off our bicycles and took a lovely ride around our city. one of our stops was at our favourite québec city art gallery, galerie morgan bridge. their latest expo was in conjunction with festival de la bande dessinée francophone, and featured sketches and drawings by artist jimmy beaulieu.

jimmy beaulieu’s art is right up my alley: his books tend to be filled with colourful pencil crayon sketches…. of lots of gorgeous representations of queer women. i’d browsed some of his books at some of my favourite bookstores, but never had the cash to take them home. this exhibition might be the turning point for me though – there’s something his style and his characters that really draws me in, aesthetically and politically. i was thinking out loud to simon as we admired the art on the walls that even though these were all drawings of naked (mostly lesbian) women, drawn by a straight guy, for some reason it didn’t feel exploitative or lewd. i must admit i don’t have anything to back me up on that other than just my gut feeling, but it’s true. perhaps it’s because, as i’ve been discussing with friends ad nauseum these days, we’re starving for representations of ourselves. perhaps it’s just nice for me to see drawings of people who look like me and my friends. perhaps that’s part of beaulieu’s intentions… perhaps not.

(i’m only posting his slightly less… nsfw sketches here, but check out his website and poke around)

as simon and i enjoyed the exhibition and admired the great fit of pink and black painted on the largest wall space, alex lemay, who runs the galerie morgan bridge, informed us it was a happy accident of sorts: the exhibition beforehand had called for pink walls, and instead of having to paint over it twice, they incorporated it into the expo.

i was tempted to purchase this piece for simon – he kind of has a thing for brunettes with glasses.

but it wasn’t just the framed pieces on the walls that tickled my fancy – it was the whole atmosphere of the space. with so many sexy images on the wall, the cozy cast-iron bed was a wonderful touch.

there was a subtle hint in the expo that beaulieu’s work – although pretty – is not without substance. take a closer look at the bed: a red square pillow placed there hints at political solidarity. you might have no idea what i mean: what the fuck does a red pillow mean, politically? if you haven’t already heard, that red square has become the symbol for support and solidarity with the student strikes in québec. for the past 12 weeks, student unions around the province have been striking in opposition to the provincial government’s proposed university tuition hike of 75% – which works out to 1,625$ – over the next five years. at different points over the last two months, over 300,000 students have been on strike, and hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets. but it’s not just students – as police brutality and arrests has increased, so has support for the movement. most wear a small piece of red fabric pinned to their clothes with a safety pin, and others have taken to spraypainting red squares on sidewalks and buildings.

être contre by jimmy beaulieu

the red pillow in beaulieu’s exhibit was not a mere example of tokenism – he’s been busy these days producing art around and in response to the student strikes since february. he’s among one of the many artists who have been speaking out in support of the students and has been highly critical of the incidents of police brutality – as shown in his piece “hâvre de paix” seen below.

havre de paix by jimmy beaulieu

havre de paix by jimmy beaulieu

as you may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, the student strikes – and debates around them – have really heating up here in recently. it’s kind of astounding how many protests (often 2-3 a day), debates, beatings and arrests have happened over the course of the past two months, and it’s only quite recently that the media outside of the province has been covering it.


i must say i’m not the most informed on the events – i’ve been away and unplugged for most of april, taking advantage of not working as a journalist right now – but i’ve had the chance to read a handful of interesting articles on the questions being raised by this movement. check out the zine jimmy beaulieu and many other great québécois artists have contributed to here. and here are some of the best reads i’ve found about the strike. comment and add your own if you’ve seen any great ones!

recommended reading:

in french:

twitter hashtags about student strikes:


Filed under personal, quebec city, self-portraits

2 responses to “in my city: naked ladies and student strikes

  1. Ooh, I really like the style of his work! I shall have to take a look at his website. It reminds me of a few graphic novels I’ve read…ha, and then I clicked through to his site and the first thing that pops up is a comic panel. 🙂

  2. So interesting reading posts about the strike early on. I cannot believe it has been months now… or maybe I can. I appreciate you posting some of the links and art surrounding the strike.

    If you’re looking for another anglo journal, some of the faculty and grad students at Concordia’s Communication Studies Dept put together <– shameless plug I know, but had to be done.

    Been meaning to say I love your blog for a while… cheers!

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