Posts Tagged ‘art’

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.

***

Happy Valentines Day!

smiley heart on pink wall with red spray paint lines around

Once again, the Distillery District is lighting up the cold winter nights with their LightFest featuring a number of lit art installations.

 

blue lights shine against an exterior brick wall of a restaurant, window - looking in the window you can seen people sitting at a table. A large art installation of a woman's face outline in blue light hovers above the window.

below: The LOVE locks have been enhanced with a cursive band of colour.

a band of blue light writes the word love in cursive, laid on top of a LOVE sign that is covered with locks.

below: There is no fire breathing dragon like there was last year, but there is an enormous 35 foot polar bear standing outside Balzacs.  Apparently it gets lit up later in the evening (or any other time except when I was there?).   He is made from the hoods of old cars and is the creation of Don Kennel.

a sculpture of a very large polar bear standing on its hind feet, in white, with black claws and facial features, distillery district, evening

below: Well, duh, of course it is!  LOL.  There is no context to this picture so you can’t tell that it’s like a large hockey puck, about 4 feet (about 1.2 metres) high if my memory is correct (i.e. it could be a bit higher).

a round white light with words written on it in capital letters, black, Centre of the Universe

below: Some of the installations are just for show (like the rods here) but some are more interactive.  For instance, the ring of orange and yellow lights that you can see in the background are large enough for people to walk through.

below: Another interactive installation is this little stained glass and acrylic enclosure by Taylor Dean Harrison.  When you are inside it looks like you are surrounded by stained glass.  Or, as I overheard one boy call it, lizard skin.

light art installation at Distillery District, like a small tent or hut that you can go inside, tiny triangle of colour, by artist Taylor Dean Harrison, looks like stained glass

artwork featuring tiny triangle of colour, by artist Taylor Dean Harrison, looks like stained glass. Close up detail shot

As usual, this is only a taste of what it there.  You can explore the works of 30 different artists at the Distillery District until the 3rd of March.

 

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

This year’s Nuit Blanche was on September 28th and 29th.  The night’s activities were spread over a large number of locations around the city.  That was a few days ago so yes, I am a bit behind.  I was laid low for a couple of days with this cold that’s been going around… or I took a few days to recover from being up until 3:30 a.m.!

 

below:  Part of ‘Continuum: Pushing Towards the Light’ by Brandy Leary and the Anandam Dancetheatre.  They made they way across the glass enclosed bridge over Queen Street between the Eaton Centre and The Bay store.

4 people in costume, performance art, on glass covered bridge

below: From behind the burlap (or tarp?) Nathan Phillips Square, from an installation ‘Radical Histories 2012-2018’ by Ibrahaim Mahama.

looking at the back of the 3D Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips, looking through burlap and tarps that have been stitched together

below: More from the same installation, this time from the “right” side.  It was great for making shadow figures.  Thanks to Jude for starting off the evening with me… and getting creative (silly?) too.

making shadows against the fabric draped around City Hall and Nathan Phillips square

below: We found a photo shoot on Bay Street.

two young women posing on the street

below: On Bloor Street, nothing to do with Nuit Blanche but it looked cool.   Reflections and lights.

reflections in a window that has been lit with a red light, a mannequin is reflected from the store across the street

below: Eaton Centre, a quieter moment that night.

a young boy leans against his father as he reads a book, MIghty Robot, at the Eaton Centre

below: Checking the map.   Yonge Dundas Square – the installation there was very unimpressive so I took people pics instead.

a couple looks at the Nuit Blanche map

below: At Church of the Redeemer (Avenue Road and Bloor), Korean Dancers.  “Star Moon Water Stone” by Ensemble Jeng Yi

two Korean women in traditional costume, gold dresses, and decorated hair

below: Drummers, same venue as above.

drummers, performing, Church of the Redeemer, Nuit Blanche

below: ‘This Storm is You’ at the Ontario Science Centre, an installation by Zahra Saleki.   Photography on the walls and stories on the floor.

art installation for Nuit Blanche at the Ontario Science Centre, by Zahra Saleki called 'This Storm is You'.

below: Walk among the stories.  “Every story deserves to be lit.  Grab a sharpie and write yours.”

lit sign, large capital letters in pale blue, Every Story deserves to be lit. Grab a sharpie and write yours.

below: Smile!.. and a testament to the start of love.   Two of many lit stories.

white lanterns, rectangular, with tea lights in the bottom, scattered around the floor, people walking around them.

below: Saleki’s photos displayed here are abstract dance photographs in black and white.  Negative images and slowing the camera to produce the blur of motion.

black and white photo of a man leaning forward, finger pointed to ground, slow shutter speed, blurred motion,

four photographs on a black wall, by zahra Saleki, figures in motion

below: This is what you saw when you first got off the subway (is the SRT a subway?) at Scarborough Town Centre.  It’s part of the ‘The Things They Carried’ Babel series.  The motifs are similar to those on the installation at Yonge -Dundas Square, that oops, I don’t have a picture of.

installation of blue lights shining on fabric banners

below: At Scarborough Civic Centre, ‘Everything I Wanted to Tell You’ by Hiba Abdallah.  A series of words in lights projected onto several buildings.  The words changed every few seconds to tell a story or two.

two large signs at Scarborough Nuit Blanche, from the installation called Everything I wanted to tell you. Back lights say We worked so hard to make this place home

below: More of the words.  “People hold on so tightly to a specific narrative of this place”.

words projected onto the side of a building at Scarborough Civic Centre, part of Nuit Blanche installation, Everything I wanted to tell you by Hiba Abdallah

below: More projections at Scarborough Civic Centre.  Sorry, not sure which installation this is.

large projections on the concrete wall of Scarborough Civic Center

below: Scarborough Town Centre (mall) had a mountain of inflatable globes you could walk under, or just look at.  ‘Walk Among Worlds’ by Maximo Gonzalez

piles of inflatable globes are arranged at Scarborough Town Centre, people are walking around them and through a tunnel made of them

below: Weaving stories, ‘Interlacing’ by Community Arts Guild, at Scarborough Town Centre.

three people are taking their turn weaving coloured strips of fabric into a community weaving project

below: Watching a performance at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

people line the edge of a balcony to watch a performance below

below: Running through the lights.

woman runs past a white screen that is being lit with coloured lights, making her shadow coloured

below: Reflections, Aga Khan Museum

in front of the Aga Khan museum, a large white lit ball is reflected in the pool of water

below: more Aga Khan

Aga Khan at Nuit Blanche

below: Showing ‘Insomnia’, a video filmed in Tehran showing simply the view out his bedroom window, by Simin Keramati, Aga Khan Museum

a room in the Aga Khan that is showing a video made in Tehran, two people are sitting on stools as they watch it, orange carpet on the floor, old decorated bookcases against the walls.

side of the Aga Khan museum lit in bluish purple light

below: Trash at Yonge Dundas Square.  Nothing to do with Nuit Blanche, just an ordinary day’s worth of garbage.  It just happened to catch my eye as I was walking down the stairs to the subway.

clear plastic bags full of trash are pilled up against a clear wall at Yonge Dundas square

Ending with rubbish would be a weird way to end a post, so here’s another mannequin.  I saw lots of them that night too, unfazed by the activity around them, unmoved by the night’s events.

below: I’m out here every night.  Nice of you to finally notice….

bald white mannequin with dark sunglasses and very dark red lipstick, looking at the camera, wearing an orange and brown top with a collar, reflected red, ywllow, and green lights behind her.

 

Two Canadian First Nations women, Jane Ash Poitras and Rebecca Belmore,  have their art on display at the moment.  Both women are concerned about the effects of history on their culture and heritage.  Both mix politics into their art.   How do you rise out of oppression while preserving your heritage?  What are the issues surrounding acculturation and do you deal with them?   But as you can see, they approach their art in very different ways.

At the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) are four paintings by Jane Ash Poitras (b. Fort Chipeywan Alberta 1951).   Poitras is Cree.  She was orphaned at the age of 6 and raised by a Catholic German woman in Edmonton.  Before turning to art, she earned a BSc in microbiology.

below: ‘Buffalo Seed’, mixed media, 2004.  Old black and white photos are used in this collage along with sunflower petals and fabulous colours of oil paint.

colourful collage and painting by Jane Ash Poitras. Uses old black and white photos

below: “Potato Peeling 101 to Ethnobotany 101”,  Placed side by side, these two large works serve to contrast traditional indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants with the teachings imposed on indigenous youth by the residential school system.

2 large assemblages, collages, by Jane Ash Poitras, called Potato Peeling 101 to Ethnobotany 101, on display at the Royal Ontario Museum

below: There is a lot of detail in the two boards that get lost in a photo like the one above so here is a closer look at some of the photos in the collage above

collection of old black and white photos of First Nations kids in schools

text of a quote by Rebecca Belmore that says "for decades I have been working amongst my people, calling to the past, witnessing the present, standing forward, facing the monumental

 

“Facing the Monumental” is the title of the Rebecca Belmore exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  It covers three decades of her work and includes photographs, sculptures, and videos of her performance art.   Her art is more conceptual.

Belmore is an Anishinaabe woman from the Lac Seul First Nation.  She spent her childhood in northwestern Ontario with her maternal grandparents where she spoke Ojibwa.  For high school, she boarded with a white family in Thunder Bay.  Many First Nations communities are too small to support a high school so students are sent to live elsewhere while they complete their education.  It is a system with many problems.  It’s probably fair to say that the whole “system” is problematic.

below: ‘Sister’ 2001.  An ambiguous image – why does the woman have her arms stretched out?  What is happening here?

Sisters, art by Rebecca Belmore at the AGO from 2001

below: “Tower”, 2018.  A condo tower of shopping carts around a clay core – the carts symbolize the homeless.

art by Rebecca Belmore at the AGO

below: “Mixed Blessing”, 2011.  Two cultures.  Blending?  Fighting each other?  Hiding in embarrassment?

art by Rebecca Belmore at the AGO

below: And last, “Fringe” 2007.  Like two of the three artworks above, Belmore uses the body to address violence against First Nations people, especially women.   The image draws you in and repels you at the same time.   You don’t want it to be real but there is the possibility that it is.   If it makes you feel better, the diagonal scar is created using make-up and what looks like blood are strings of beads.

fringe, by Rebecca Belmore, a photo of a woman's back as she's lying down, scar and beads

Jane Ash Poitras is at the ROM until April 2020.

Rebecca Belmore is the AGO until 21 October 2018.

woman in a bright pink dress, holding a bouquet of flowers poses beside a brain artwork at Nathan Phillips Square while a man in a blue suit takes her picture

The brains are back!  Close to 50 brains decorated by different artists can be seen in about a dozen locations around this city throughout the summer.

This year they are 2-dimensional, not three.  They are much flatter.  Above, making an interesting companion to the fabulous pink dress is “Enigmatic Glitter” by Donald and Elaine Rafelman Creative Arts Studio at Baycrest.  When we picture art together it lights a spark and evokes a glitter of hope.

 

below: At Nathan Phillips Square, from left to right:  “Pop Art” by Mary Ann Grainger,  “No Brainer #Repainthistory” by Andrea Bolley,  “Neon Future” by Steve Aoki, “Get Me Out! by Hate Copy (aka Maria Qamar), “Mental Vacation ” by Birdo, and “My Mind is Swimming” by Gina Godfrey.

two young woman are standing beside a row of artwork, brain shaped, each in a plexiglass container, standing in the water of the fountain at Nathan Phillips Square, 7 brain sculptures, all decorated by different artists, part of the brain project in support of Baycrest

 

below:  “Power in Growth” by Amy Jeffreys in the Distillery District.  Persevere and grow.  Every human is capable of harnessing strength from their weaknesses.  In this piece, the tangled roots represent the inner struggles and complexity of one’s thoughts.

off-white artwork in the shape of a brain, covered with cords and leaves, or maybe leaves and stems

below: “Memory” by Colin Nun at Nathan Phillips Square.  “This type-based piece represents disconnect, dead ends, and memories lost to brain disease.  It is inspired by the loss of the artist’s grandfather to Alzheimer’s disease and was created as a tribute to his memory.  Take a close look to find a hidden word in the piece.  What do you see?”

2 dimensional brain, artwork, designed with orange and white lines, beside water at Nathan Phillips Square, 3D toronto sign behind it

below: “The Mind’s Eye” by Dave Bagley at Yonge and St. Clair.  Concentric rings of birds, fish, and diamonds radiate from the center.

a brain from the brain project at yonge and St. Clair, in a plexiglass display case, minds eye by David Bagley

below: Close up of the above, clearly showing the two seahorses in the center as well as the repeating yellow fish and blue birds.   According to the artist, “I believe all of humankind share an organic Wi-fi that connects everyone, all we need to do is turn on the switch… is yours on?”

close up of painting on brain shaped sculpture, called Mids Eye by David Bagley, circular pattern of fish and seahorses

below: “Puzzled” by Harm Huibers on Grist Mill Lane in the Distillery District.  The design of the brain is complex and intricate; when it’s complete, it’s a beautiful puzzle.  Diseases like Alzheimers take pieces out of the puzzle.

a plain brown puzzle in the shape of a brain, eight of the pieces are either missing or only partially in place

The project is sponsored by Yogen Fruz and Pinkberry and is in support of the Baycrest Foundation.  Baycrest, a leader in research into brain health and aging, is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year.

You can find pictures of all of the 2018 brains online at the brainproject.ca as well as descriptions of the brains and the artists behind their creation.