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Monthly Archives: November 2008


            I started out on a cloudy Friday afternoon and ended up at Art Metropole on King St. where the main exhibition on display was by the artist Nestor Kruger.  In this body of work the artist references his notion on the state of oblivion.  He envisions this noun as a place for him, rather than a state.  The duality of opposites and push and pull were quite prominent throughout the pieces.  Notions of the mystical and physics play along in this exhibition as well, surfacing in the main element of work which is a large aquarium filled with a colorless and odourless liquid.  Try to imagine the same piece as proposed by Damien Hirst, sans shark though.  Other dualities were presented within the other objects on display both in colour opposites, positive and negative photos and the main duality which was that of an empty tank mirroring the water filled vessel.  We were also treated to other artist’s work such as Derek Liddington’s “Reading Machine for Dr. No” and James Carl’s sculpted elastics. 


            I stopped by briefly to see the show by Joe Hambleton at Pari Nadimi Gallery. “Sounds for the Post-Apocalyptic Man” was an installation piece of sound and painting that united the Cyber Punk genre of Science Fiction within a social commentary regarding the artist’s childhood in Southern Ontario.  The gallery itself flies way below the radar usually and so does its shows for some reason as it is a shame because the gallery space itself is an excellent and large venue in which to showcase any artist.


            My next stop was at MOCCA to view the exhibition entitled “Dyed Roots” which was curated by Camilla Singh who situated herself at times within an aviary cum bar- enclosed office which was installed by the entrance.  The shows installations dealt with the idea of, to quote the press release, ‘the new emergence of culture’ and had as it’s main theme the idea of colonialism and the banding together of cultures through travel, immigration and souveniours.  Some artists in the exhibition included Brendan Fernandes and Rashmi Varma.


            Another quick stop was made at Clint Roenisch to see the work of the Canadian Duo Tony Romano and Tyler Brett otherwise known as T and T.   The theme of post-apocalyptic conservation was again addressed in their flat, colourful giclee prints that incorporate motifs of survival, recycling, retrofitting and modernist architecture that is just somehow re-configured to adapt to their confines of survival. 


            MKG127  was my second to last stop where I took in the zany world of Instant Coffee.  “Say Nothing in Bright Colours” is this collective’s way to introduce the use of neon and acid based colours to painted and shrouded sandwich boards, found objects and photos.  Instant Coffee utilizes architectural spaces and objects and re-crafts them to investigate the social world around them in an ironic fashion.  They had even managed to fashion their own wallpaper in black and white which featured an updated version of dingbats and violators which could only be used by the most daring of decorators. 



            “Hunting” was my last stop at the Stephen Bulger Gallery.  This was a photo based group show which as its title implies deals with the theme of hunting.  Both 19th and 20th century photographs were included in the show to reflect upon society’s view and subsequent distancing from our origins of hunter/gatherers.  The pieces reflected on the act of moose hunting, Inuit hunting, hunting lodges and hunting blinds abandoned in trees throughout the Ontario landscape. 






Image courtesy of Susan Hobbs Gallery

Image courtesy of Susan Hobbs Gallery




      If an arboriculturist were to take a busman’s holiday and send a postcard back home he could do no better than to find reproductions of Robert Wiens Butternut and White Pine series to do the trick.  Such is the meticulous reproduction and exactitude that the artist imbues to these life sustaining trees.  There is an exquisite and almost palpable texture to these watercolour renderings that makes one want to reach out and stroke the tactile surfaces in order to feel the roughened grain.  To enter into an exchange with these faux bark paintings is like stepping into a mysterious and otherworldly realm.  If you stand back and stare long enough you can envision a topographical map of a fantastical craggy terrain that could be part of some make believe woodland.


            Wiens has included ten paintings in this exhibition which have been culled from images taken with his camera while on forays into the Northern Ontario wilderness or directly from his own property. These pictures are then rendered into pencil drawings which are produced from the projected likeness onto paper and from which the final painted version is completed.  Wiens somehow is able to manoeuvre the imagery into meandering ridges and furrows sticking to a simple palette that is directly taken from nature where these images are plucked.  The scale is large and the trees are pictured either horizontally or vertically in tight close-up as if a slice were taken out for botanical examination.


            Such tense cropping of the surface affords a natural monumentality to the species in a gallery setting and invites the viewer to seriously contemplate one’s own relationship to trees or to the escalating loss of our elder forests. The artist does not create a narrative with the environment as we know it but a souvenir of a probable fleeting form.   If the nature lover does not seem to notice the bark of a tree with its surfaced penumbra upon a foray into the forest Wiens certainly makes a point of making sure that we do. The formed valleys and crevices that are part of the weathered surfaces seem to breathe life and convey a message to the witness that there is still hope and redemption for the cathedrals of the eco-system.   


            For now these arboreal markers will serve as depiction for what is now present, and hopefully for the future not lost.