Archive for the ‘galleries’ Category

Toronto street sign for St. Patricks Square, in background is CP24 car that looks like it has crashed through the wall of a building

The building at St. Patricks Market on Queen Street West is empty but the exterior walls are now a pop-up outdoor gallery.  It is part of Art On Queen West.  Some of the artwork that is on display:

below: “I See You” By Peru143

image on display at outdoor pop-up gallery, St. Patricks market, by Peru 143, stylized text says Toronto

below: “Bouquet” by Curtia Wright

image by Curtia Wright, woman with purple skin and pink hair, head and shoulders portrait

below: “The Queen” (representing Queen West) by Andrew Patterson

image by Andrew Patterson, white line drawing on blue, purple, and orange background, a human-like figure with crown on head and objects in upraised arms

below: “Pies, para que los quiero si tengo alas para volar?” Or in English: “Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” by Alejandra Paton

image of Frieda Kahlo

below: “The Reimagining of the Steps” by Jenelle Lewis

an illustration by Janelle Lewis of many people on circles of stairs and steps

below: “Untitled” by Jenelle Lewis

illustration by Janelle Lewis, a woman getting onto the back of a blue and purple tiger with black stripes

below: “Pizza Night” by Jieun June Kim

stylized marine scene, pink and yellow striped octopus, fish, starfish,

 

an exhibit by Miriam Cahn
at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery

large painting on a wall in a gallery by awindow with sunlight coming in and making patterns with shadows  and light on the floor and on the wall

Miriam Cahn (b.1949) is a Swiss artist.

a number of paintings by Mirian Cahn on an art gallery wall

Most of the paintings are of faces or bodies and many of the pieces are sexually explicit, or brutally dark, or both.

a painting by Miriam Cahn, a naked man is punching a woman in the face,

two paintings of faces on a gallery wall

a number of paintings by Mirian Cahn on an art gallery wall

three people talking in a gallery with two large paintings of full frontal naked women on one of the walls

The exhibit continues until 2 Jan 2022.  More information can be found at the Power Plant website

The Art Gallery of Ontario has re-opened after several months of COVID lockdown. They have created an all new Andy Warhol exhibit in celebration.

This is some of what can be seen:

 

people standing in an art gallery looking a three large and colourful paintings by Andy Warhol of faces

below: Elvis Presley

a man in pale blue jacket and baseball cap stands in front of a portrait by Andy Warhol

below: Part of a series of images of an electric chair in different colours

two women look at prints of electric chair in 4 different colour tones

three young women look at two paintings of guns by Andy Warhol, large and on a gallery wall

a couple pass by six Andy Warhol paintings. Two of Debbie Harry and two of Dollie Parton and two of Mick Jagger

below: Debbie Harry

Andy Warhol portrait of Debbie Harry

below: Karen Kain

two portraits of Karen Kain, one on turquoise background and the other on light purple background

The exhibit is on until October 2021.

green ribbon woven into the chainlink fence between the West Toronto Railpath and MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art

The main exhibit at MOCA, Museum of Contemporary Art, when I was there a couple of weeks ago was ‘Acts of Erasure’.

“Acts of Erasure brings the two distinct artistic practices of Fatma Bucak and Krista Belle Stewart into dialogue. This pairing opens space for conversations around political identity concerning land and heritage, historical repression, and more.”   I’ve added this sentence because every review I’ve read of this exhibit start with these words that also appear on the MOCA website and on the wall in the gallery.

This exhibit was part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival that was planned for May 2020 but this being the year of Covid, it had to be rescheduled.

Photos covering the floor were the work of Krista Belle Stewart who is a member of the Upper Nicola Band of the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation in British Columbia.   They are part of ‘Truth to Material’ and were taken in Germany were there is a group of people like to dress up and play Indian. They call themselves Indianers.  Once you know that, the fact that they are on the floor and not on the walls makes a bit more sense.

two boots walking on a picture on the floor

calves and shoes of people standing on pictures on the floor of a gallery

a person walking on the floor, pictures on the floor

below: A dress made by one of the Indianers.

pictures on the floor of a gallery

The other artist, Fatma Bucak was born in Iskenderun, on the Turkish-Syrian border;  she identifies as both Turkish and Kurdish.  Her contribution to the exhibit is ‘A Study of Eight Landscapes’, an ongoing project.  Each photograph is a pair of objects.  Each object was collected at one side of a border.  This is an attempt to explore the dynamics of borders, their effects on people living near them, the politics that result, and other consequences of having borders.

below: left: “Too Heavy” and right: “In Splendid Isolation”

two pictures at a gallery, one on the floor and one hanging on the wall

From the MOCA website: “….confronts the contingency of border spaces and the tenuous interdependency that resides within them. To produce these still-life photographs, Bucak worked collaboratively with people living and working near and across borderlands. The composed objects collected from these sites explore mental and material realities of spaces where conditions of life are highly dependent on the entities on either side of a border. The photographs present a stark view of transitional landscapes, such as those between the United States and Mexico, Turkey and Armenia, and Syria and Turkey.”

I would love to have more of the story explained to me, such as, what the objects are, where they came from, and why the artist chose them.  Isn’t it difficult to have a dialogue about random items removed from even minimal context?

below: left: ‘There May be Doubts’, center: ‘A Border View’, right: ‘Undetermined Remains’.

three pictures at a gallery

The day that I was at MOCA, the ground floor was being prepared for ‘Archipelago’ by Taiwanese painter and conceptual artist Michael Lin.  The designs are based on Taiwanese and Indonesian textiles and are being painted by local artists.

a woman painting the floor

women painting on the floor of a gallery

A third exhibit, ‘Medusa’ was bring installed at the time and was closed to the public.

the word kiss is made with fabric woven into the chainlink fence

Acts of Erasure remains until January 2021
Archipelago remains until March 2021

Van Gogh Immersive Exhibit at the old Toronto Star building at 1 Yonge Street.

Vincent Van Gogh Immersive exhibit - large faces of Van Gogh projected on the wall, from self portrait paintings

Images from paintings by Vincent Van Gogh were projected on all four walls plus the floor of a very large space. The installation includes his work the Mangeurs de pommes de terre (The Potato Eaters, 1885) to the Nuit étoilée (Starry Night, 1889), Les Tournesols (Sunflowers, 1888), and La Chambre à coucher (The Bedroom, 1889).  It was a slow moving video that was about 35 minutes long.

vincent Van Gogh Immersive Exhibit, 4 people, turquoise flowers, 2 men standing, one person sitting on a bench

Vincent Van Gogh Immersive exhibit

Vincent Van Gogh Immersive exhibit - person sitting on floor, taking aphoto with camera, starry starry night

Vincent Van Gogh Immersive exhibit - a middle aged couple sitting on floor, a baby stroller sitting by the exit

There were circles on the floor in which you had to stand/sit but you could move from circle to circle if there was an empty one.

Vincent Van Gogh Immersive exhibit - crooked tree with white blossoms on a turquoise background

The most interesting portraits were those of people dressed in white.

Vincent Van Gogh Immersive exhibit - a woman in a long white dress crouches beside the wall, images project onto her and her dress, pinks and purples

Vincent Van Gogh Immersive exhibit - a woman stands beside the wall, orange colours all around her including the floor, green images of windows and shutters too

Vincent Van Gogh Immersive exhibit

Mirrors were placed around any structures that were in the way.

Vincent Van Gogh Immersive exhibit - people sitting and standing

Vincent Van Gogh Immersive exhibit - people sitting on the floor with projections of images of inside of house with tables and chairs in orange and yellow tones

Link for more information on the exhibit
which continues at least until the end of October

#VanGoghTO

The Great Pause, March 2020 (and then April…. and now into May)

paintings on a fence including one that says the great pause.

paintings on a wood fence, with backs of houses in the background

below: Courage, joy, spirit, celebrate, community, equality, and one that has flipped over.

coloured flags on a wood fence, red flag for , gold flag for joy, yellow for spirit, light blue for celebrate, light blue-green for community, blue for equality. , also a picture of the Beatles, black on mirror

below: All you need is love.

paintings on a fence

little wood planters on a wood fence

Canadian flag displayed on a fence with a guitar at either end

below: What to do when spring seems so far away….

chalk drawing of three flowers growing out of a wood planter mounted on a wood fence

Now at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) is the exhibit “Age of You”. Part of the show is “The Extreme Self” based on a forthcoming book by Shuman Basar, Douglas Coupland, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, of the same name.   Large panels covering two floors of MOCA, lead the viewer through the storyline using graphics, pictures, and a lot of words.  Other works by other artists can be seen among the panels but the panels definitely dominate the space.

Why the title “Age of You”?  What is that all about?  As we increase are use of technology and our dependence on it, our data seems to have become important.   Information about our habits, likes & dislikes, online behaviour, etc. is now a valuable resource.  Our profiles and data can be used to create a model of  ‘you’.   Google knows where you’ve been if you have a smartphone.  They also have an advertising profile for you ostensibly so they can target their ads.  (Check the ads that they insert into these blog posts).  This technology advances faster than our ability to adapt to both it and its consequences.

below: “You’re now becoming your extreme self… and it’s happening to you as you read these words.

large panels hanging in an art gallery, MOCA, three panels. In the miiddle is a large picture of a woman's face with a single tear. Also some words. On the right is Too stupid to fail. On the left

Technology and its effects on people, individually and collectively, has been discussed since the advent of technology.  Often it is the negative effects that are discussed the most.  Today, we use the word “disruptive” to describe companies such as Amazon and Uber, companies that use technology to change the way we do business, and the way we interact with other people, and the way we go about our daily lives.

As I was thinking about technology and its effects, I remembered the Marshall McLuhan quote, “Every technology necessitates a new war”. When I looked up that quote (to make sure my memory was correct), I found this as well: “‘Any form of continued and accelerated innovation is, in effect, a declaration of war on one’s own civilian population.”

below: “We’re now deep into the terminal phase of democracy.  This phase involves voting in leaders whose primary goal is to dismantle democracy.”

large panels hanging in an art gallery, MOCA, Too stupid to fail,

below: Four panels. Four ideas in words in pictures.  “Groups of people make dreadful decisions.” “The majority can no longer be trusted.” “Democracy needs morning after pills.” and finally, on the right, a few sentences on the breakdown of reality-based consensus.

large panels hanging in an art gallery, MOCA, four in black and white

The exhibit references a quote by Isaac Asimov : “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’   But, can’t this be extended to ‘my scribbles are just as good as your fine art?’ And then along comes social media with its anonymity and global reach …. 

So what does all this mean for the future?

Is it art?

One can’t deny that it is thought provoking but part of the reason I asked, “Is it art?” is because of the heavy reliance on words and text.  It’s a book hung from the ceiling.  It also relies on quotes and ideas that originated elsewhere, words that that the artists have collected, not created.

Text is considered to be a design element but words have the added quality of conveying meaning.  Some images carry symbolism but only words can be manipulated into phrases and sentences with different meanings.   There seems to be a trend that involves the use of more text in art.  Art is now a “teaching moment”, like an essay (or book) laid out in a format that suits a gallery.  It’s not enough to be just looked at but it has to be educational too.

The next few pictures are from Vincent Meessen’s exhibit “Blues Klair” now on the Power Plant gallery.  It doesn’t deal with future like Coupland et al. above, instead it’s more a link to the past; it’s a history project.   This is the first paragraph of the words on the wall at the entrance to the exhibit:

words on the wall accompanying an exhibit by Vincent Meessen

A plea to all writers of such words:  Please stop. We’re not stupid but we’re also not ‘experts’ in the latest jargon and this just goes over our heads. …. I found a video on youtube of Vincent Meessen talking about this exhibit – and now it makes more sense.  It’s still a history project though.  It’s also a case, again, of the artist turning a collection of other people’s work into ‘art’.

two people looking at framed pictures and pages of text on a wall that has been painted in blue and white squares

blue and white papers strewn over the floor, discarded, with a framed picture on the wall, and a blue desk in the middle

Jumping back to the future – jumping to Hito Steyerl’s exhibit “This is the future” at the AGO to be more specific.   She too uses words.  And multimedia.  And she too pushes the limits of what art is.  (Or can you argue that those limits are long gone?)

below: Two parallel stories, one on top and the other below.   The upper story is about a community where windows are purposely broken, “people are smashing windows tirelessly to generate power”. The other story tells the opposite, windows are left alone and “police with big wooden horses are guarding every window”.  It turns what we believe about society upside down – the ‘good’ people who don’t break windows are living in a gloomy police state.  The ‘vandals’ have sunshine and art.

room at the Art Gallery of Ontario with words written around the walls, and a flat screen TV laying a video in the middle of the room

below: Hell Yeah.  Well okay then, if you say so.  It probably says a lot about me and/our times when my first impression is that it would make a great background for an instagram photo.   There are other blocks of words too (not in the picture) and the whole sequence is Hell, Yeah, We, Fuck, Die.  Why these words?  They are the “five words that have appeared most frequently in the titles of songs in English-language music charts over the past decade”.  And yes, I looked it up.

large blocks, lit from inside, put together to form the words the words hell yeah

And yes, I checked instagram….  The “L” does make a perfect seat!

composite of three photos of people that have been posted on instagram showing them at the Hito Steyerl exhibit hell yeah we fuck die at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Five words.  What do they mean? What five words would you use?

 

‘Age of You’ continues until 5th January 2020.

‘Blues Klair’ is at the Power Plant until 5th January 2020.

‘This is the future’ ends on 23 February 2020

Twice in two days at two different galleries I have encountered white, or almost totally white pieces of art.

This is “Untitled (Basel)”, 1969, by Robert Ryman (1930-2019) now on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).  Yes it is 5 white panels on a white wall.   Before you scoff at this, one square similar to these sold in 2015 for more than 20 million dollars.

5 white squares arranged in a row on a gallery wall, an artwork by Robert Ryman

In the same room as the above is “The Rose”, 1964, by Canadian-born artist Agnes Martin (1912-2004).   There is a pale pink colour to this one.  The pink is made by a grid drawn by hand with red and black pencil, hundreds of red lines in all that “dissolve into a rose-coloured atmosphere”.

rose, a large canvas by Agnes Martin on a wall at the Art Gallery of Ontario, red pencil lines in a grid, it looks pink when viewed from a distance

This is the view that greets you when you walk into the Olga Korper Gallery.

art on the walls of a gallery, all frames are white, the artwork is all very pale

The art on the wall is an exhibit, “the laughter between two miles” by Ken Nicol.  The pale grey pieces on the far wall were made with hundreds of pencil lines.  Although the lines are in patterns of vertical and horizontal lines that aren’t quite a grid like the Agnes Martin piece above, the effect is the same.  The lines are too close together so the eye sees it as a single colour.

In the example below, green, blue, and red lines make a design over letters.  The letters are hand written (are you impressed?  Do you care?) and they are “Sentences on conceptual art” written by Sol LeWitt and first published in 1969.  LeWitt (1928-2007, American) is considered one of the founders of Conceptual Art.  Apparently he once created something similar where all the if’s, and’s & but’s were connected.  Here, the red lines connect all the art’s.

words in lines, sentences about conceptual art, overlaid with green, red, and blue lines

Text as a major element in a piece of art seems to be more prevalent these days, but that’s a subject for another day.

Instead, one last look at the Olga Korper Gallery before leaving – it’s a gorgeous gallery space.

walls of a gallery, white, with some all white artwork on the walls, also a large old double door that is the exit

 

women looking at paintings at the Art Gallery of Ontario

below: Two pieces by Valerie Blass from her collection titled “The Parliament of the Invisibles”.   Blass used plaster casts of body parts,  dressed them in clothing, and then arranged them in little installations.  (On the fourth floor of the AGO until 1st Dec)

art by Valerie Blass, a parliament of invisibles, clothes taking the form of people

below: Stepping out in denim shorts and red boots.

artwork by Valerie Blass at the Art Gallery of Ontario, one red boot, a pair of denim shorts and a blue ikea bag on a step stool

below: Working among the heads

below: Part of “Mother and Child with Pulled Tooth”, a sculpture made of whale bone, antler, grey stone, ivory, and sinew by Karoo Ashevak.

whale bone sculpture in art gallery, mother and child, large round face with open mouth and two outstretched arms with large hands

below: A print by Carole Conde and Karl Beveridge, Screenprint and ink on paper, about 1975. “Why does the woman do the laundry and cooking?”  Although in the image the woman is using a tape recorder and is no where near the kitchen.

q print that shows a woman working, in red ink on green background, with black words written on top of it, why does the woman do the laundry and cooking

below: Part of “Blur” by Sandra Brewster – a collage of more than 80 black and white “portraits” of people out of focus and uncentered.

a collage of many black and white blurred and uncentered portraits of people on a wall in an art gallery, part of Blur series by Sandra Brewster

below: There is also a very large out of focus image on a wall of its own.  The photo on its own wasn’t very interesting but it provided a wonderful backdrop to some experiments of my own.  There are those who stop and look and linger and those who pass by without a second glance.

people, out of focus, walking past a large out of focus picture of a woman, a photo by Sandra Brewster as part of her blur series

a couple holding hands with the woman leading the man, out of focus, walking past a large out of focus picture of a woman, a photo by Sandra Brewster as part of her blur series

people, out of focus, walking past a large out of focus picture of a woman, a photo by Sandra Brewster as part of her blur series, three men, two are together and the third is walking in the opposite direction

people, out of focus, walking past a large out of focus picture of a woman, a photo by Sandra Brewster as part of her blur series, a man in a green shirt

people, out of focus, walking past a large out of focus picture of a woman, a photo by Sandra Brewster as part of her blur series, a man pointing

Sandra Brewster’s “Blur” is on exhibit until 20 March 2020.

In honour (or in celebration) of the start of the impeachment process in the US of A, here a couple of images from a small exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario on political satire over the years.   These are illustrations by American artist Sandow Birk that appear in a collection of ten lithographs titled “The Horrible & Terrible Deeds & Words of the Very Renowned Trumpagruel”.   This project was based on illustrations by Gustave Dore (1832-1883) for a series of books that were first published a few centuries earlier about the adventures of Gargantua and Pantagruel, two bumbling giants, written by Francois Rabelais.

a lithograph, political satire, of Trump on his cell phone as he looks towards Russia, lots of demons and unsavoury characters playing in the sewer and swamp behind him

In Birk’s adaption, President Donald Trump is the clueless giant who is oblivious both to the havoc he is causing and to the problems of the world. He is firmly attached to his cell phone.  In the background little gremlins, or demons, or swamp dwellers, cavort and make off sacks of goodies. At the time that I was taking these pictures, I didn’t realize that I had chosen two that were so similar.  If you check the link on Birk’s name near the beginning of this post you should be able to see other examples.

Donald Trump on his cell phone overlooking a polluted environment

“The Horrible & Terrible Deeds & Words of the Very Renowned Trumpagruel” was printed by John Pusateri in New Zealand in 2017.