Archive for the ‘galleries’ Category

Mickalene Thomas was born in 1971 in Camden NJ.  She’s a contemporary African American artist now based in Brooklyn New York who likes to examine how Western art has treated women and beauty.   She celebrates black femininity and sexuality with her artwork – something that has been overlooked (or neglected).

below: Close examination of ‘I Learned the Hard Way’, 2010.  Embellished with rhinestones.

a man is looking at a large painting by Mickalene Thomas of a black woman sitting on a sofa. Two women in the foreground
close up of an artwork by Mickalene Thomas at the AGO, a black woman's legs, seated, crossed at the knee, embellished with rhinestones

below: Part of ‘Qusuquzah Une Tres Belle Negresse’, 2012 showing detail in the blue veil that runs diagonally across her face.

close up of a woman's face from a Mickalene Thomas painting, blue eye shadow, and a blue mesh veil diagonally across her face

below: ‘Living Room Tableaux’ (the seats and carpets) with ‘Los Angelitos Negros’ 2016 in the background.  The latter consists of videos playing on four monitors arranged horizontally.

a mother and young daughter sit on seats in a room at the Art Gallery of Ontario, watching videos by Mickalene THomas as part of her Femmes Noires exhibit

below: Also part of ‘Living Room Tableaux’ but from a different angle.  The painting on the wall is ‘Blues’, 2016 which was influenced by the movie “The Color Purple”.  Whoopi Goldberg (in the painting) was one of the characters in this movie which was based on the novel of the same name written by Alice Walker.   Based in rural Georgia in the early 1900’s,  it is the story of Celie Harris, a young black woman and the struggles that she faces.

furnishings, comfy armchairs and a carpet on the floor, turing a room at the AGO into a livingroom. On a wall in the background is a piece by Mickalene Thomas as a tribute to the Colour Purple

below: ‘Living Room Installation’.  This one is different from the one above – in a different room at the AGO.

people sitting, furnishings, comfy armchairs and a carpet on the floor, turing a room at the AGO into a livingroom, one wall has video (or videos) playing over its entire surface

below: Part of “Portrait of Kalena”, 2017.   The geometric face is a direct reference to the style used by Picasso in some of his work.  Picasso was inspired by the work of African artists so here Thomas is re-appropriating Picasso’s geometric and mask-like shapes.

a portrait of a black woman by Micklene Thomas where the face has been done in a Picasso-like style

Thomas’s website

The exhibit at the AGO ends on 24th March

I’ve decided to put together two exhibits that are on at the moment in one blog post.  The first is ‘Same Dream’ by Omar Ba at the Power Plant Gallery and the second is ‘Reflections of Love’ by a group of photographers next door at one of the  Harbourfront galleries   The two exhibits don’t have a lot in common except the close proximity of the two galleries and the fact that I saw them on the same afternoon last week.

First, Omar Ba was born in 1977 in Dakar Senegal.   He studied art in Dakar and then in Geneva where he now spends part of his time.

below: The large work in the middle of the gallery was painted in place.  That is Jesus on the cross.  The center figure has the word”Horus” painted beside it.  Horus was an Egyptian God who was usually depicted with a falcon’s head on a human body.   The painting depicts “a recurrent motif of birth, death and reincarnation across different cultures today” according to the description of the exhibit on Power Plant’s website .

gallery at Power Plant Contemporary, show of works by Omar Ba, large painting of Jesus and Horus in the middle of the room, a man sitting on a wood bench looking at some of the paintings on the wall

below: ‘Naufrage’ 2014.  Dictators, despots, and authority figures can be seen in many of his paintings, often mixed in with scenes of plants and/or animals.

Naufrage, a painting by African artist Omar Ba on display at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, a black man in uniform peaking out from behind a lot of plants and their stems

below: Similar to the one above, except hear the plants are based on fairly realistic human hearts with black aortas and yellow blood vessels.

Omar Ba painting of a man behind plants with human hearts on top of them

below: Ba’s paintings are full of small details as can be seen in this close-up of part of ‘Autopsie de nos consciences 2’, 2018.   Name the flags?

detail from an Omar Ba pinting, a black man holding an automatic rifle. The butt of the gun is covered with small flags from different countries

below: More details but from a different painting.

close up of a painting by Omar Ba of a boy's face in grey dots, wearing a patterned shirt

***

‘Reflections of Love’ is a photography exhibit on at Harbourfront for the month of February that features the work of five artists.

As you enter the gallery, the words on the wall say, “In honor of Black History Month, this thoughtful photography exhibit explores the many forms of love found within our black communities through reflections of self, identity and acceptance. Power within vulnerability and healing can only come through togetherness and conversation. This is a true celebration of exemplified strength in people with deep roots and heritage.”

below: On the back wall, a series of images by Stella Fakiyesi.  Fakiyesi was born in Nigeria and raised in Toronto.

part of art gallery at Harbourfront, wood floors, black bench in the middle, some photos on the two side walls, four large photos on the back wall, a series of four photos by Stella of the same black woman in a number of poses.

part of a photo by Stella Fakiyesi of a black woman, two images superimposed on one another

below: Photo by Sean Brown

photo by Sean Brown of a black woman wearing a green turban, a number of hands are tugging at her ears.

below: Photo by Jah Grey

black and white photo by Jah Grey of a black man holding a large round mirror over his head and in front of his face

below: Two photographs by Quil Lemons

two portraits by Quil Lemons, on the left is a black woman and on the right, three black girls

below: A closer look at the one on the right shows a wonderful tangle of three girls.

a close up of portrait of three girls by Quil Lemons

 

below: Three portraits by Yannick Anton

three photos by Yannick Anton hanging on a gallery wall. All three are portraits of black people with bright yellow backgrounds, one is a father and young son, one is a young girls and one is a young child with parents.

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Happy Valentines Day!

smiley heart on pink wall with red spray paint lines around

the backs of two people, a man and a woman, as they look at framed photographs hanging on a wall at the Ryerson Image Centre

On display at the Ryerson Image Centre at the moment is a collection of more than 200 photographs called “True to the Eyes”.  These photos were part of a collection amassed by Howard and Carole Tanenbaum over the past forty or so years.  The images span the history of photography.  There is a bit more information on the Ryerson Image Centre website.

 

below: An old tintype of three hunters and their dogs.   The process was developed in 1853 and was popular during the 1860s and 1870s.  Tintypes were printed directly on metal (but not actually on tin)- a photographic emulsion was applied to a metal plate.

an old tintype photo of three male hunters in sepia tones, framed in an elaborate picture frame and hanging on a dark grey gallery wall

Two women are looking at a wall covered with framed black and white photos at the Ryerson Image Centre

below: Two wonderful portraits by Rafael Goldchain

two colour portraits by Rafael Goldchain on a gallery wall.

people looking at framed photographs being exhibited at Ryerson Image Centre

below: New York City, 1947, a black and white photo by Louis Faurer (1916-2001, American).  Faurer did a lot of fashion photography for magazines of the day but he is best known for his street photography in New York City and in Philadelphia.

black and white photo from New York City in 1947, by Louis Faurer, hanging on the wall at the Ryerson Image Centre - part of the Howard and Carole Tanenbaum collection.

below: Also on display at the Ryerson Image Centre is a small collection of photos and items from the history of Kodak in Toronto.  The exhibit was organized by Ryerson students.

photo of a large billboard advertising the new home of Kodak in Kodak Heights, Keele Street, Toronto, back when it was being built.

If you are interested in the history of photography or in vintage photos, part 2 of the exhibit of photos from the WW1 era is on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

four people sitting on a bench in a gallery looking at a large video screen that is showing images of world war one era stereoscope pictures.

part of an old sepia tone photo of a young man in a soldier's uniform, holding a small dog, World War 1 era, hanging on a wall at the Art Gallery of Ontario

“True to the Eyes” ends 7th April 2019
Part 2 of Photography: First World War ends 14th April 2019,

Late in 2015, or thereabouts, MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art), as it was then known, moved out of its old location on Queen Street West.   It has taken a few years, but the new expanded MOCA has recently opened.  Its new home is the former Tower Automotive Building on Sterling Road.

below: As seen in 2013 before renovations started.

Photo taken 2013, The ten storey Tower Automotive bulding. In the foreground is the land left vacant after the demolition of the sheet casting machining buildings in 2010.

below: Today. Not much has changed on the exterior. There was graffiti and street art around the lower parts of the building that has all been removed….

chainlink fence along a path leading from West Toronto Railpath to Sterling Road, with new MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in the background, what used to be the Tower Automotive Building

below: Except for part of this mural by Jarus.  This photo was taken in November 2014 and is the back corner of the building.  Enough of the mural remains that it is recognizable.

graffiti on the back of the Tower Automotive building, a tall brick building - the backside of a naked woman who is lying on the ground. Much larger than lifesize, painted by Jarus.

The main exhibit at the moment is a group exhibition called ‘BELIEVE’

part of a life sized sculpture, or installation, of a figure dressed in a beaded hood and mask

below: Sitting Bull and the whale, part of ‘Columbus Suite’ by Carl Beam (1943 – 2005).  This work was produced in 1990 and was previously shown at the Art Gallery of Ontario.   Beam was

artwork by Carl Beam, called Columbus Suite, one picture from a series showing Indian chief on top and a black and white vintage photo on the bottom

The whole series consists of twelve etchings starting with ‘New World’ (a turtle, representing North America) on the far left.   Ten of the remaining etchings features a portrait of a well known person who was persecuted, assassinated, or similar including Jesus Christ, Louis Riel, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, John Kennedy and Sitting Bull at the far right.  The remaining image is composed of four pictures of the artist at various stages of his life; it’s title is: “Self-Portrait as John Wayne, Probably”.

all works in the Columbus Suite by Carl Beam

below: Against the far wall is a work by American artist Barbara Kruger.  Like a lot of her art, it consists of large letters/words.  In this case, doubt +belief =sanity.  In this rendition of the artwork, other small words appear as well between the main words (red background) and in both cases they say ‘forever feeling’.

Also in the photo, there is an installation on the floor.  The artist is Dineo Seshee Bopape from South Africa and she has called this work “And – in The Light of This. _________”

inside MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) which is an old industrial building, with original concrete columns, art installation on the floor and another on the far wall. On the wall are large words doubt, belief, and sanity.

below:  Another installation at the MOCA now is ‘Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape’ which is a video by Andy Holden (until 18th Nov).  The video is an hour long and the trailer can be seen on youtube.  There, the description of the video is: ” The world is now a cartoon and an exploration of cartoon physics might help us understand the world we now inhabit. “

people in silhouette sitting on a bench watching a video at MOCA

‘BELIEVE’  features the works of Can Altay, Matilda Aslizadeh, Carl Beam, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Awol Erizku, Meschac Gaba, Kendell Geers, Barbara Kruger, Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Rajni Perera, Jeremy Shaw, Nep Sidhu, Maya Stovall,  and Tim Whiten.   It closes on 6 January 2019.

below: ‘The Encompassing’ by street artist Javid (aka JAH) stands in one of the reflecting pools between the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum.   This is one of a number of pieces on display.  Each is painted on reclaimed corrugated metal.  They are an examination of the geometry in Islamic patterns and architecture.  His work will remain on display until the 31st of October.

a painting called The Encompassing stands in a reflecting pool in front of the Aga Khan Museum.

below: On the other side of the above painting, is this one – “Beyond”, also by Javid.  The Ismaili Centre is in the background with its large pale blue dome over the prayer room.

A painting in blue, pink, and purple, of stars, by Jacid Jah, in a reflecting pool with the Ismaili Centre behind it

 below: The large wood beams that cover the entrance to the Ismaili Centre were being re-stained this morning.

a pick up truck and a lift in front of the entrance to the Ismaili Centre, workmen are re-staining the large wood beams that support the glass roof.

The Toronto Ismaili Centre is one of 6 around the world.  It was designed by Indian architect Charles Correa and opened in 2014.  If you go on the tour of the inside of the Ismaili Centre, you will see a building that is filled with natural light, as well as natural woods and stone.

below: A calligraphy based medallion made of stone is on a white wall.  The Arabic word ‘allah’ is in the center and surrounding it are the ninety nine attributes of God, written in Arabic.

chairs and sofa in a large room, on grey carpet, most of floor is polished stone, medallion of stone on the white wall.

below: A closer look at the wall.  It took two men, a father and son, fourteen months to carve the design into this wall and a matching wall on the other side of the room.  They worked six days a week .  The arabesque design was penciled on using a stencil and then carved by hand.

carved white wall, plaster

below: A second medallion is on a wall across the room from the one above (on the other wall that was carved).

medallion of stone, calligraphy, arabic, on a white wall

Crossing back past the reflecting pools to the Aga Khan Museum….

below: Another Javid Jah painting, this time “The Manifest”.   (To the left, you can see a metal sculpture called “Big Heech” ).   Like all of Jah’s paintings here, this one is based on geometry.  The basic shape here is a pentagon (sacral chakra) and it is seen on the floor.  This type of archway is called a muqarna and it is unique to muslim architecture.  Here the shape of the indentations in the muqarna are based on the pentagon.

a painting called The Encompassment stands in a reflecting pool in front of the Aga Khan Museum.  Painted by Javid Jah, blue arch over red entranceway

The “Big Heech” is the work of Parviz Tanavoli, made from stainless steel in 2014.   It is derived from the Persian word for “nothingness” and it is an important word in Perian Sufism.

“Emperors and Jewels: Treasures of the Indian Court from the Al-Sabah Collection in Kuwait”, is a temporary exhibit at the Aga Khan Museum featuring artworks and historical objects from the treasuries of Mughal emperors.  The Mughal Empire ruled most of present day Pakistan and India in the 16th and 17th centuries.   The Mughals were Muslim but the majority of the population were Hindu.

below: Part of a larger picture depicting a hunting scene, reproduced and enlarged especially for the exhibit.

part of a painting at the Aga Khan museum of a moghul ruler on a horse in a hunting scene

below: Three glass bottles

on display at the Aga Khan Museum, 3 glass bottles, rounded bottoms and narrow tops, one is marroon, one is teal and the last is royal blue

below: Two fish joined to make a circle, a standard.  From India, late 18th century.   Made from silver.  There are many myths and symbols that feature fish.  In Hindu tradition, the fish was associated with Brahma and Manu, a progenitor of mankind.  In addition, one myth is that a fish was believed to hold up the globe.

on display at the Aga Khan Museum, two fish joined in a circle, a standard, for the top of a pole

below: A portrait of Nawab Bairam Khan, painted around 1710-40, watercolour and gold on paper.  He is pictured in profile, sitting alone in his peaceful garden.

on display at the Aga Khan Museum, a painting, portrait of Nawab Bairam Khan, painted around 1710 to 1840, watercolour and gold on paper, scene is a man sitting on a carpet, under a tent roof, leaning on a large pink pillow

below: Knife with jade handle carved in the shape of a horse head and neck.

on display at the Aga Khan Museum, a metal knife iwth a jade handle that is carved into the shape of a horse head and neack, decorated with gold bridle

Anthropocene
an exhibit of photographs by Edward Burtynsky
highlighting the mark that man is leaving on the environment.

below:  Lithium Mine #1, Salt Flats, Atacama Desert, Chile, 2017 .  The Salar de Atacama is the largest salt flat in Chille, located in the driest non-polar desert in the world.  This is also the world’s greatest source of lithium.  The shades of yellow, green, and blue represent the different stages of lithium evaporation.

coloured ponds in a lithium mine in Chile, shades of yellows, greens and blues

below: A plastics recycling plant, Dandora landfill in Nairobi, Kenya, 2016

in an art gallery, a large photo of people and a dog among a large garbage dump

people viewing art exhibit at AGO, photos by Edward Burtynsky

below: Uralkali Potash Mine #4, Berezniki Russia, 2017.  This Russian mine includes about 3000 km of underground tunnels created by machines called combines used in the potash extraction process.   These spaces are dark.   The spiral patterns are left by the combines.

photo by Edward Burtynsky of the interior of an underground tunnel in a potash mine in Russia.

below: Morenci Mine #2, Clifton Arizona USA, 2012.  Part of this photo shows the liquid reserves of waste left over from the copper extraction process.  The marble like colours are the result of leached heavy metals.   Copper smelting requires between 1500 and 3000 litres of water for every to of processed ore.

large copper mine photograph

people viewing large coloured photos by Edward Burtynsky at the Art Gallery of Ontario

 

One of my stops the other day was the Ryerson Image Centre.

below: Students enjoying the un-autumn-like weather while the pond is almost empty.

the pond outside Ryerson Image Centre is almost dry, there are tables, chairs and yellow umbrellas set up in the pond area, students sitting there.

The main exhibit at the Ryerson Image Centre is based on the work of Gordon Parks, specifically his ‘Flavio’ photo essay.  Gordon Parks was an African-American, born in Kansas in 1912.   He bought his first camera in a pawn shop.  In 1948 he began a 23 year career at LIFE magazine where he created many photo essays including ‘Flavio’.   In the 1960’s Parks  went to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to document the poverty there.  He  centered the project around a boy, Flavio, and his impoverished family, the Da Silvas.  When the photographs and story appeared in ‘LIFE’ magazine in June 1961, it caused quite a stir, especially in Brazil.  In return, a Brazilian photographer, Henri Billot , visited the poorer parts of Manhattan to prove that the poverty in the United States was as bad as the poverty in Brazil.   The family that Billot concentrated on was the Gonzalez family.   There is also some discussion about candid photos vs images that are staged in documentary photography.

As a reaction to the LIFE article, Flavio was brought to the USA for two years to treat his asthma.  Money was also raised to relocate the Da Silva family to a new home.

below: Some of the photos by Gordon Parks.

five black and white photos on a dark grey wall, photos by Gordon Parks of poverty in Rio de Janeiro in the 1960s

below: Flavio and his brother Mario on the promenade in Rio during their first trip outside the favela. 1961.  Favela is Brazilian Portuguese word for slum, or low income area a city (usually on the outskirts).   In the 1960s the favelas were populated mostly by migrants from rural areas who couldn’t afford living in the city.   These areas didn’t have running water, electricity, or sanitation.

two boys in front of a row of apartment buildings, photo by Gorodn Parks

below: Photo by Henri Billot

old photo from the 1960s, 3 children play on the sidewalk by a car that is parked on the street

below:  Neighbourhood of the Gonzalez family, Manhattan, 1961, by Henri Billot (my apologies for the reflections).

Gonzalez building, tenement slums of New York (Manhattan), black and white phot by Brazilian photographer, Henri Billot

below: Flavio and his wife Cleuza da Silva in Rio in 1976 when Gordon Parks returned to see how the Da Silva had fared since his earlier visits.

black and white phot of Flavio and Cleuza da Silva taken in 1976 in Rio by Gordon Parks

In the student gallery was a small exhibit of the work of Alia Youssef.  Her project ‘The Sisters Project’ features portraits of Canadian Muslim women of all ages all with a narrative of their own.   Their portraits were on the wall of the gallery but their portraits and stories are on the website (it’s well worth a visit!)

two photographs by Alia Youssef, each of a muslim woman in a field or park, the one on top is a younger black woman, the bottom is an older whiter woman with a head scarf

In light of the recent earthquake in Indonesia, the third exhibit at the Ryerson Image Centre seems timely.  It is a display of photographs taken in the aftermath of the earthquake in Mexico City on 19th September 1985.  At the time it was the strongest earthquake on record.  Large portions of the city center and the neighbourhoods next to it were leveled.

below: Photo by Barbara Laing.

an old black and white photograph of Mexico city after the 1985 earthquake, a pair of pants and a clock on top of a flattened building, some people in the distance

woman dressed in black in a gallerywith black walls,looking at black and white photos on the wall

below: Photo by Pedro Mayer.

an old black and white photograph from the aftermath of the Mexico City earthquake of 1985, s pile of rubble with people standing on top of it.

the pond outside Ryerson Image Cetnre is almost dry, there are tables, chairs and yellow umbrellas set up in the pond area, students sitting there. aas seen from inside the Image Center