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Monthly Archives: February 2009








On a bitterly cold January 16th I meandered over to  Birch Libralto on Tecumseh St. to view the exhibition “Multiples IV” which was a substantial group show of at least nine artists along with a few collectives.  Art Metropole had a presence along with General Idea and the exhibition in itself was curated by two independent curators Ann Dean and Roger Bywater.  A representation of works shown were Tim Lee’s 45 rpm records, Julie Voyce silk screens, Euan Mc Donald sculpture, Luis Jacob neon works, Ed Pien prints, Micah Lexier’s series of incremental system books and Mitch Robertson’s plaster cast snow globes.  Overall it was a very strong faction showcasing a diverse range of eclectic artists.  


            Next door at Georgia Schermann Projects I was again treated to a group show “True Lies” featuring their newest represented artists Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins along with the galleries regular stable of artists.  The exhibiton had as its undertones the themes of paradox and juxtaposition both which informed the artist’s theory and work on display.  An element of clear-cut craftsmanship also showed through in the construction of the pieces giving them an aura of quality and preciseness.  The conceptual work of Marman and Borins addresses themes and tensions that give rise to questions of politics, history and the overall visuality of their artwork.  This was a departure as Marman and Borins were previously  represented by Diaz Contemporary…….hmmmmmm!!!


            At Susan Hobbs Gallery the paintings of Patrick Howlett were on display in the downstairs gallery which were from his 2008 collection.  These hard angled geometric painted shapes done in egg tempura on wood panel were reminiscent of the work created by the artists in the Montreal art movement the “Plasticiens” but were far removed from their own theory.  Instead Patrick creates these designs in response to fragments from critical texts that takes form from meaning. These texts derived from trolling the internet are googled and the resultant images gleaned in response to these writings are then photoshopped into the geometric collages that are the paintings themselves.  Pretty impressive and quite stimulating to view.   In the upstairs gallery Althea Thauberger had on display three digital C-prints of a figurative nature which dealt with a German civil service project with undertones of social development.  They were large format photos and were obviously taken in the country of Germany which informs the pieces themselves.   Not groundbreaking but indicative of today’s conceptual practice.


            I finished off at Diaz Contemporary examining the work of James Carl who has had a spate of exhibitions recently throughout the province including a recent showing at our own JMB Gallery.  This mid-career artist’s show entitled “Jalousie” were monumental sculptures composed of twisted and manipulated venetian blind slats that have been taken from their original context to create vast modernist pieces that contemplate both positive and negative space.  The blinds were bent to form shapes that were not always apparent to the artist at first but are akin to molecular structures that one sees in science textbooks.  Carl always seems to pointedly reference the effluence of consumer and cultural items and this show was no exception.






      If the future of visual art lies in the hands of our current stable of


Danielle Hession

Danielle Hession



students then the Canadian art scene finds itself in good stead with this present crop of learners and graduates from OCAD. As the recent issue of Canadian Art stated, this institution in Toronto has set out to “redefine the nature of art education.” Current president Sara Diamond has determined to shape the school as one that will be in the top echelon of art, design and media world wide. The venerable institution utilizes the city around itself as its studio and strives to churn out the most talented and free thinking individuals.  



            In the student group show at the student gallery which ended on 7th January entitled “Make Believe” we are treated to a show which explores the notion of childhood dreams and how we are inexorably linked to our innocent past while at the same token propelled forward into our own present idiosyncrasies. The five artists have explored their own notions of infancy which have been curated into a for the most part strong and cohesive exhibition showcasing excellent talent and fine technical skills.


            Perhaps the most engrossing and engaging pieces of art are those by the graphic designer Danielle Hession whose ephemera filled mixed media collages engage her collective memories of an earlier period while challenging the notion of impermanence.  The artist utilizes old photos, family portraits, maps, notes, diagrams and drawings to render the past obtainable to the present as “time capsules and storehouses of information.” Such renderings are then coated with an incomplete layer of resin which binds the found objects into a more permanent encasing thus relieving her work from negation. The fact that Danielle also takes private commissions in this vein allows her work to be at once accessible and achievable to those of us who strive to rebuild our past memories.  


            Hannah Hilary Enkel’s submission “Behold! A Fool!!!” deals with the notion of public humiliation and societal stigma. Vellum photos of citizens doffing dunce caps set against a grove of trees are at once encased in window boxes composed of barn wood. I at once thought of this as a commentary on our pervasive technical and gadget filled society which subsequently renders our gray matter impervious to the most banal of tasks. However the artist perceives a more sinister approach which speaks of imposed leadership, actions and thoughts. Her Orwellian hypothesis struggles with the notions of shame within a culture and of a population that is guilted into a set way of expression. 


            The illustrator Gracia Lam imposes upon us “everyday objects and mundane environments” which have been transposed into fantastical worlds by her wispy and expressive delicate lines. The viewer is asked to explore the human condition in a way which is at once thought provoking but utterly dreamy. Her prints and oil on paper renderings present a figure spying on a couple in a high rise, an absurd game of dodge ball, or a arm chair with real arms that is being transported by a fleet of miniature characters. A portrait of a male with a knitted moustache oversees this collection which strives to pull one’s imagination into corners which are at once thought provoking and disturbing.  Bravo!


            The exhibitions signature piece “I Am Ready Now” which hung in the window and which is showcased on the postcard is the work of Yun A Cho. This piece is a charming and playful depiction of two innocent children who are engaged with the viewer. This artist’s work is concerned with childhood experiences and the lost innocence that is part of that experience. Yun’s work for this exhibit had as a backdrop horizontal or vertical lines that were under or overlying the picture depending on the painting. These technically superb oil on canvas and wood panel depictions were figurative pieces that ran the gamut from representational to abstract and which evoked a dream like and evocative sense of being, just what you would expect from childhood.


            Perhaps the weakest link in the show was the work of Niloufar Salimi. Although colourful and playful the pieces some how did not seem to fit with the exhibitions overall theme and calibre. Vibrant swirls and curly-cues of ink, impasto acrylic and paper covered the area while flowers were all set against the bruteness and starkness of bare wood. Could these be the doodling from a child’s past or the present imagination of the artist. One is left to wonder but really that wondering is left to smoulder from the lack of substance that is on offer. The series of work were linked on the wall with what seemed to be copper wire except for one lone piece to the left. Niloufar states she creates from a place of memory but I wish that these memories had been more substantial and thought provoking.