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JEAN CHARLES' "The Bach Variations" meets NANCY HUSTON's "The Goldberg Variations"

From April 5 to April 29, 2007, Craig Scott Gallery mounted an exhibition of works by Jean Charles entitled “The Bach Variations.” The works in the show emerged through a series of dialogues. There was first of all the dialogue between two individual artists whose alter ego is “Jean Charles.” Jean Charles is the nom d’artiste for the spousal collaboration of classically trained painter, Jean Miller- Harding, and Kent Harding, a self-taught artist whose own work is created as Charles Kent. For more information on the artists and their collaborative method, click here: Jean Charles.

The second dialogue was between the artist and J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations with the third dialogue being that between the artist and the characters in The Goldberg Variations, the first novel by Canadian/French writer Nancy Huston*, whose writings have made her a literary icon in her adopted France and one of the world’s most respected authors. Combining the musicality of Charles Kent’s abstract work and Jean Miller-Harding’s mastery of figurative painting, the works in “The Bach Variations” exhibition drew energy from the genius of both Bach’s music and Huston’s fiction.

Preceding the gallery opening of “The Bach Variations” was a cultural and fund-raising dinner evening at The Berkeley (315 Queen East at Berkeley, one block north of Craig Scott Gallery’s original 95 Berkeley location). Nancy Huston flew in from Paris for the event and combined a reading and stage performance of several chapters from her The Goldberg Variations; “Bach Variation” images by Jean Charles were projected onto a large screen during the Huston reading. Waleed Abdulhamid Kush and his colleague musicians of Radio Nomad then reinterpreted in a magical world-music fusion style the First Aria of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, a work that they went on to perform at the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio during celebrations of Glenn Gould. As well, Stephen Lewis spoke to the guests. All proceeds from the event went to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

A news release for the evening can be found here: THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS AT THE BERKELEY, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4 .


*In her native Canada, Huston has been awarded the Governor General’s Award for Fiction (1993; for Cantique des plaines), the Order of Canada (2005), and three honourary doctorates. For a digest of many biographical sources on Huston, see: Nancy Huston . Note that only some of the many literary prizes for which she has been shortlisted or that she has won are found in the foregoing entry. Most recently, Huston won the 2006 Prix Femina for Lignes de faille. The following CBC news entry describes the prize and the novel and provides further background on Nancy Huston: Canadian Nancy Huston wins France's Prix Femina for Lignes de Faille .

For reviews of The Goldberg Variations, click through to the website of the publisher of the English-language edition, Signature Editions: THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS by Nancy Huston (click “Author Index” and scroll down) . The following is Huston’s own formulation of the premise of The Goldberg Variations for Signature Editions: "Suppose you invite thirty people to your home, people whom you love or have loved, to listen to you perform Bach's Goldberg Variations. And say that this concert unfolds like a midsummer night's dream, that is, you, Liliane, succeed in vibrating thirty people like so many variations, each at a different tune—you must oscillate between memory and speculation; you must, above all, master your fears—maybe then, all these fragments of music would dance into the same stream, and that you would call The Goldberg Variations, a novel."