“In determining to show her work in a private studio, Woermke questions the position that art galleries and museums hold in defining what art is and how it is to be shown”
“In determining to show her work in a private studio, Woermke questions the position that art galleries and museums hold in defining what art is and how it is to be shown”
“Hubbard brings our attention to these overlooked objects and presents us with a kind of aesthetic absurdity”
“This exhibition is a personal narrative of Aidan Urquhart’s growing up and living in Southwestern Ontario, in a time of shifts and changes and global uncertainty – we are reminded of the temporality and fragility of our existence”
It is a simple thought but one that in some ways is deeply unsettling: the world in which we live, the taken-for-granted world we have constructed around us, originated from a nothingness, a void. Aidan Urquhart’s exhibition at the St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre, entitled New Canadian Cabins, brought that thought to mind while exploring the origin of the idea for his current exhibition. Continue Reading
As I look around at my art on the walls, I can tell that my art is happy to be here, to be looked at, talked about, getting some fresh air, and really shining in this lovely coffeehouse. And as I look around the room I can see that each one of my paintings is telling a story, and I like how they represent the two sides of me; as a Métis I have a First Nations side and there is also my early French-Canadian side.
Hello. I am Kim Moodie‘s hair. So what, you might say. Well, as fate would have it, I have suddenly been brought to life and made a prominent object of artistic interest and creative expression in Kim’s exhibition currently showing at the McIntosh Gallery, entitled Any Dream Will Do. I am featured prominently in the photographs and videos that make up a significant part of this exhibition.
Truth be told, I think I really started to take on my identity as an art object in Kim’s show All But Not, at Museum London in 2011, where the focus of many of the works was on line, line drawings and line sculptures. Line is also significant in the large and boldly coloured paintings and preparatory drawings in this current exhibition, as well. The idea of line and line creating volume, substance, and direction is very strong in all of Kim’s works. My place as an aesthetic object is an extension of that, in the multitude of strands and lines of which I am.
I feature foremost in the art and composition of the seven large colour digital photographs that take up one wall of the gallery of this exhibition. Here, they are presented as one piece, entitled Hair Diaries. I know I look a bit shocking, my natural mature grey whiteness hanging loosely down past Kim’s shoulders, equal to the length of Joni Mitchell’s or Janis Joplin’s hair from the ’60s and ’70s. My ageing coarseness, unevenness, and split ends add a rather tactile affect to the photographs. I also have surprising thickness for my age. Kim loves that about me as I allow Kim to play out a common psychological theme that punctuates his drawings and paintings in these photographs, that of masks and hidden identity. But in these photographs, exploring this theme is done in a much more invigorating and personal way, moving Kim’s work in an entirely new direction, foraging in new territory. The mask is me and in the photographs and also in the short videos I enable Kim to be both present as art object, and yet remain hidden, so that these works are not just portraits, but they are about surface and composition as well. Continue Reading
“As a sculptor for more than 30 years, in this exhibition, Thibert brings his mastery of materials to near perfection”
Tenably, Patrick Thibert’s current exhibition of wall pieces at the DNA Artspace on Dundas Street is an exacting combination of outstanding artistry and superb craftsmanship. Right from the time you enter the gallery, the work in its entirety holds the viewer in a visceral moment fused with clarity, intensity, and serenity. This happens without knowing the intention of the artist or the process that is applied in supporting this intention.
The exhibition consists of 24 pieces, all created between July 2014 and December 2015. In these wall pieces, Thibert has moved away not only from his on-the-floor or out-of-doors sculptural structures, but well into abstraction with the works entirely void of image. Instead, the focus in each piece is on simplicity in composition, and the visual play that happens when only the very basic elements of art are placed on a flat surface to create the art itself. Primary in these works is the relationship of line to surface. Lines are placed in juxtaposition to each other and/or to other geometric shapes or surfaces. For the viewer, the artistic experience is found in the play of the tension created between these basic elements. Thibert sees the work as reductive, abstract geometric compositions and what happens as art is the dynamics that unfold within the reductive composition.
In the study drawing Press No. 3, for example, the focus is on a square, or rather a near square, surface which is positioned within a larger squared frame. The work is brought to life with the strong diagonal line on the side that unbalances the basic composition, and creates further tension when placed against the sharp edges of the square that run in counter directions. The horizontally-textured surface of the square itself is placed against a fastidiously-drawn textured linear background. Again, in the wall piece, Divergerent Harmonies No. 1, a thin linear surface slices through a large jagged geometric shape that dominates the picture plane. The tension in this work is the play between the linear surface and the jagged edges of the geometric shape which is placed in a larger rectangular shape and set slightly off centre in the picture plane. The eye is held and challenged by the interplay of balance and tension placed against texture, line, and shape.
With every aspect of the creative process, Thibert holds fast to the simplicity of this reductive aesthetic experience. Through Thibert’s superior craftsmanship and exacting execution, the composition is infused and presented with a sense of importance and wholeness. Sharp, clean, crisp straight edges and curves are the result of dedicated hours of intense labour as the artist lifts, carries, saws, and cuts large sheets of plywood, copper, and tin, and bends and plies long lengths of aluminum while all the time measuring and calculating and measuring again. As a sculptor for more than 30 years, in this exhibition, Thibert brings his mastery of materials to near perfection. The result plays back into the artist’s intention of focusing the viewer on the reductive composition. “The framing creates a line, and then there exists the relationship of line to the edges of the field.” We see this in Linear Composition No. 11 where the use of obtuse and acute angles in the framing create an interplay with the right angle linear shape that dominants the centre, or rather near centre, of the piece.
Further elevating the reductive aesthetic composition is the application of the patina solution, the use of chemicals applied to surfaces. Ferric chloride, ammonia chloride, ferric nitrate, liver of sulphur are among the acid biting chemicals. It is in this stage that the art becomes painterly. The acid solution is often brushed on using various kinds of brushes including not only normal paint brushes, but also horse brushes, wallpaper brushes, and wire barbeque brushes. Resulting from the brushing process are vertical and horizontal lines and
Our relationship with our surroundings grounds us, provides a basis, and is one of the most significant points of recognition we rely upon to operate in our daily lives. To be lost in a landscape once familiar spooks and disorients us. We grow, our perspective changes and a longing is born for what we often remember vividly as the utopian setting of our youth. This conflict with the change in our surroundings speaks to a discomfort when we no longer recognize what our minds once saw. Artist Matthew Trueman‘s upcoming exhibition, titled Dirt, at Westland Gallery addresses the cultural and environmental implications of ‘society’s violent incursion into nature,’ creating a visual dialogue with his detailed woodcuts that depict the fixed boundaries that exist within this tension.
It might seem paradoxical to say that Trueman’s most recent works have simultaneously become more sophisticated and more rudimentary. The organic details inherent in the lumps of rock and soil in Jack (2015) necessitate an observant eye to depict such natural disorder. The artist then challenges us to make a distinction between replicated details that point to an industrialized human presence such as a tiny row of houses in the distance and a set of uniform tire tracks on the hill. Even the nature of printmaking itself - the possibility to infinitely multiply an image in our contemporary world of digitization – carries that same tension as an original work of art that is mass produced. Continue Reading
“The people behind this cooperative project have overcome the long held territorial and divisive thinking that has existed in London’s art community, and in turn, have now unlocked possibilities and opportunities”
At first the glass doors recessed from the street might go unnoticed, flanked by the large projecting concrete buildings on both sides of the space. A new gallery has opened in downtown London. The Satellite Gallery at 121 Dundas is a shared exhibition space, and is the result of a cooperative effort amongst key art institutions in London: BealArt, Fanshawe College, Museum London, and Western University.
On the day I entered the gallery two Fanshawe students, Cameron Auld and Kaitlyn Morse, were in the process of setting up an exhibition of their own work. The show is entitled Unwild. Although the exhibition was in the process of being mounted, the students’ work was already looking well placed. Kaitlyn’s polyangular sculptural forms, intricately handcrafted from card stock and, in some pieces, transparent acetate, stand projecting into the gallery space on wall mounted stands. On the floor, preparing to be placed on the wall, were the digitally-processed images that Kaitlyn used to create her forms which are a blend of two animal forms (for example, a crow is blended with a German shepherd in Divine Corvine). Cameron’s somewhat larger-than-life sculptures were placed to complement Kaitlyn’s work at either end of the room. They are also well-constructed and visually enticing with textured and Barbie Doll-coloured cloth glued on polyangular planes. One piece is a female form, Hunter Be Hunted, and the other is a warthog Furnished, both resembling animation creatures. Cameron’s and Kaitlyn’s sculptural works are highly original and creative, with each artist coming from a new media background. Continue Reading
“Marigold Santos’s exhibition is a mixed media show which consists of detailed paintings, fragmented wall sculptures, and ink renderings on paper, all imbued with an aura of ritual and ignited with dark female spirits.”
At first I wasn’t sure I heard it. There were a number of people milling around at the opening of the exhibition of Marigold Santos’s exhibition BLACK MIRROR at DNA Artspace. But when I heard the voice the second time I was more sure. I turned around and found myself facing a dark image of a female form within a mirror-like frame, her five-eyed hat suggesting someone otherworldly, mystical, all-seeing. The piece is entitled Shroud (Jodorowsky’s hat). In sinister looking, seemingly dismembered black hands the ominous figure is offering forth a bundle of leafed radishes and beets. I knew this meant something, something dark and harsh, which strangely met my own feelings of dark inner conflict and simmering rage, emotions I held close to the surface on that day. I now wonder if the voice I heard was coming from under the hat. In one of those spine-tingling moments which bring tears to the eyes I was convinced this ink rendering on paper had spoken to me.
I felt the need to explore Santos’s work more and to come back to the gallery on another day when there were fewer people. I eagerly wanted to know if there were more voices to be heard, more messages meant for me.
Marigold Santos’s exhibition is a mixed media show which consists of detailed paintings, fragmented wall sculptures, and ink renderings on paper, all imbued with an aura of ritual and ignited with dark female spirits. Folklore, personal narratives, fragmented and disparate selves, and understandings of selfhood and empowerment are all easily read themes in Santos’s work.
This time returning to the gallery space, two other ink renderings on paper, also framed in a mirror-like border, greet me. Both are renderings of the veiled head and upper torso of a female form, entitled Shroud (infinity) and Shroud (scales). Both call to me equally in the same way, back and forth, both offering large and abundant bouquets of hydrangeas and hyacinths. Initially, the full-bloomed flowers suggest generosity and well-meaning. I reach out to receive the gifts and breathe in their pleasant aroma, but the dark signed hands of the figures hold me back. With remembrances of the poison apples I have bitten into in the past, I become suspicious of my own self-valuing, fooled by my own inner desire for good fortune, and wanting to be favoured. Now instead I am hesitant, confronted with thoughts of unseen dark forces threatening my sense of equilibrium and groundedness. Continue Reading
For most of us the words “I must” are invoked often. We utter these words as if standing back and looking over our lives. We call to our inert being, commanding ourselves into action. “I must” do this or that today, “I must” finish this project, “I must” affect this political action or that social order. The “I must” is there directing and pushing the inherently shapeless self forward.
But there are those for whom the words “I must” do not come from standing back. There are those for whom the words “I must” never reach the conscious mind, but rather these words are spoken and answered at some deeper level of being where to be and must do are fused together at the synaptic level, and the self becomes entwined in the thing being done. The “I must” is replaced by an intense passion inherent in existence that burns beneath the surface, and one’s outer drive and need for motivation is simply bypassed.
Although such people have walked amongst us, they actually stand above us, often their prodigy occurring at a very early age. We know them in the art world: Beethoven, Mozart, Da Vinci, van Gogh, Picasso, Michelangelo. And with the current exhibition of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the Art Gallery of Ontario we have the opportunity of seeing this kind of ignited beingness made visible with the more than 50 watercolours, oil paintings, and sketches that make up the exhibition spanning the last 15 years of Turner’s life. In viewing these works we become part of this miraculous fusion of self and being.
Certain events show the ferocity of Turner’s life, a life lived with an undamped sense of being and doing. At age six Turner first showed his intense propensity in sketching the landscapes of his immediate Brentford environment, and for the next 70 years that inner verve would remain present as he completed over 30,000 sketches, drawings, and watercolours in his lifetime. He spent many of his waking hours energetically walking and/or sketching and painting the landscape that surrounded him as he obsessed with merging time, place, and being in his art. The wonder and awe of his ferociously insatiable creative expression for landscape painting began at age 15 when he showed his first painting at the Royal Academy, The Fisherman at Sea. Here we see certain themes that would occupy a prominent place in Turner’s paintings for the remainder of his life time: the greatness of human enterprise, the diminished struggle of human existence against the overpowering forces of nature, and the dramatic interconnected elements of sea and brilliant sunlight often rendered as a reflective backdrop to inner human intentionality. Well noted for being driven to do and create, he often walked 40 kilometres a day, and travelled extensively around England, painting and sketching seascapes and historical architecture. He made numerous visits to Europe, mainly to locations of historical importance and the ancient cities of Italy, but also panoramic breath-taking vistas of Switzerland and Austria, and sea and coastal shores of France and the Netherlands. He would often return to the same places over his life time. Such was his intensity that in a two-week stay in Venice he made over 200 topographical drawings, 100 watercolour works, and later recreated in part the Venetian landscape in large oil paintings when back in his studio in London. And, if the recent film Mr Turner is to be believed, his “must do” mode of being called to him even in his last days. While mainly bedridden and clinging to life, he rose from his death bed to sketch a woman who died dramatically in the harbour of the village where he lived at the time. Such events are testament that this is no ordinary soul, rather it is one fired with an unspoken purposefulness.
But beyond his unrelenting productivity, like other great prodigies, Turner brought a dynamic genius to his work reflecting critical intellectual themes of the time while living in an emerging self-conscious imperial