The late, legendary writer and singer Leonard Cohen is being celebrated in a number of ways in Canada. For the one-year anniversary of his death, on November 7, a massive portrait of Cohen painted by El Mac and Gene Pendon was inaugurated in downtown Montreal.
Located on Crescent Street in the heart of downtown Montreal, the 22-storey mural features a gigantic portrait of Cohen which covers nearly 11,000 square feet. The painting was based off a photograph that was originally taken by his daughter Lorca Cohen in 2008. Artists El Mac,Gene Pendon and the MU collective with the help of 13 assistants and 240 cans of paint to celebrate Cohen’s music and poetry but also his devotion to Canada and the city of Montreal.
Co-founder of MU, Elizabeth-Ann Doyle, mentioned that “Leonard Cohen represents Montreal. He is the ultimate Montrealer! He rallies us, he resembles us, in our quest for freedom, in our search of humanity, in our humor. Leonard Cohen is all of us! It’s Montreal!”
This mural comes just several months after another mural devoted to Cohen was inaugurated in the Plateau, in Montreal. The city of Montreal is also the site of a new exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montreal (the MAC) called “Leonard Cohen : A Crack in Everything”.
Born in Los Angeles, El Mac (Miles MacGregor) is an internationally renowned artist whose Mexican culture can be seen in all his works. El Mac is specialized in large-scale painting and since the mid 90s, he has developed a unique style which consists in repeating the contour lines of his works. He has been exhibited across the USA as well as Europe, but also in Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam.
Born in 1971 in Ottawa, Canada, Gene Pendon (also known as Gene Starship) now lives and works in Montreal. In 1998, he co-founded Heavyweight Production House and also created the Heavyweight Art Installation, an international project promoting urban culture which toured throughout Canada, the USA, Puerto Rico, Japan and Europe.
MU is a charitable non-profit organization whose mandate is to transform Montreal’s public spaces by creating murals that are rooted in local communities. MU’s projects are designed to promote the democratization of art and local development. Over the past seven years, MU has produced 50 large-scale murals in 15 neighborhoods, in addition to over sixty community-based projects.
Images by Olivier Bousquet.