Tag Archives: art news

Hello, 2011!

If you’re anything like me you were likely equally astounded and amazed by the events that defined 2010. We watched Vancouver host the Olympics, and not without some controversy; we saw Toronto host the G20 summit, and controversy? Understatement; we met the vuvuzuela with mixed results; we watched the explosion at Deepwater Horizon and the BP underwater webcam feed with disgusted rapture; natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions were a regular headline; we celebrated the Chilean miners who survived nearly 10 weeks underground; we mourned the passing of JD Salinger, Alexander McQueen, Gary Coleman, Dennis Hopper, and more. All told it was a year of 365 days, and a million and a half memories.

At the fair, we had a banner year! A record number of visitors came through the turnstiles at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to celebrate eleven years of the Toronto International Art Fair. We were joined by a roster of sponsors, as well as exhibiting galleries and featured artists that set the year apart as one of the Fair’s best!

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2010, we salute you!

But 2010 is last year’s news – 2011 is what’s all the rage! If you’ve been entertaining ideas about see Art Toronto up close and personal, this is the year to do it. We’re going to have more of everything you want — more programming, more artists, more galleries, more collectors!

Art Toronto is currently accepting applications — why not click here and take a read through what some of our past participants have said about the fair? Convinced? Click here to download our application package.

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Seeing the future through the past: An interview with Luke Painter

By Zoe

I once lived in a purple house in Montreal with some roommates including the Toronto artist and Professor, Luke Painter. They made sure I went to see Arcade Fire for $7, introduced me to Dim Sum and helped me to understand the beginnings of contemporary painting.

Photo: Rannie Turingan (BlogTO)

Luke has shown drawings and an installation-based works at a number of venues including Angell Gallery in Toronto, Bonneau Samames Art Contemporain in Marseille, France, the Pulse Art Fair in New York and Plus Gallery in Denver.  Luke has exhibited with Angell Gallery since 2002 and has been in Art Toonto four times. In 2008, Luke Painter was included in the Carte Blanche 2, a book of contemporary Canadian Painting.

Luke’s willingness to help everyone around him has made him a bit of a legend.  To those of us who are lucky enough to have known him over the years, we have seen great growth in his work and a variation and maturity in his art practice. He works really hard and makes things happen. 

The Harbour (Malting)

Zoe Pawlak: In recent works we see a merging of new and old, the antiquated and that which has the appearance of being futuristic. How does the convergence of past and future imagery play into your work?

Luke Painter: Over the past few years I have been working on large-scale paintings rendered with India ink and brush on paper that utilize disparate elements within figures and landscapes to create a sense of historical ambiguity. These works are intentionally mimetic of traditional printmaking techniques (woodcut, engraving) and composite methods used in digital media (Photoshop), but the end result is a singular work on paper.  I am interested in combining older forms of ornamentation and patterning with contemporary subject matter and/or modern looking individuals.

ZP: You have lived in both Montreal and Toronto. Having grown up in Toronto and now living there as an adult and an artist, what influences are you taking most from the city itself?

Carte Blanche

LP: I am deeply affected by the city I live in and I often incorporate aspects of my surroundings into my work. In one of my drawings titled, The Harbour (Malting), I have used an old grain silo as a reference for this particular work. This grain silo is located on Queens Quay near Bathurst St in Toronto and is one of two remaining silos originally built in 1928 that was used to store malt. Built from concrete, the stripped-down and unadorned functionalism of the building was a precursor to modernist trends in architecture. It has been unused since the 1980’s and there has been debate about how the site should be utilized, with talk of a museum or theme park. I grew up in this neighborhood, which has been quickly developed into a condo landscape. Canada Malting has now become an interesting anomaly in the midst of accelerated development. My own interest in the building comes from a desire to reformulate the material of the building back to wood, in which they were originally built (they were changed to concrete to avoid burning down). I decided to take the concept one step further by rendering the surrounding area in wood to amplify the once natural surroundings that populated this area around Lake Ontario. I imagine Canada Malting to be an eyesore for many of the new condo residents, but it continues to hold a personal resonance with me as I grew up nearby.

ZP: Toronto has really been gaining international attention for events like Nuit Blanche and Art Toronto.  What have these events meant to Toronto’s working artists like yourself?

LP:   Having just witnessed this years Nuit Blanche I have to say that I really like the event.  For many people I know it is art-lite or art that is for entertainment and not for contemplation.  I personally think it can be both.  Both Art Toronto and Nuit Blanche have been good for raising awareness about the Toronto scene in international circles.

Victorian Bust

ZP: In 2008, you received a Canadian Council Artist Grant. What did you make with this grant and what does it mean to be supported in this way?

LP:   In 2008 I received a Canada Council Artist Grant for a work titled From Victorian to Modernism to What?  This installation shown in May 2010 at 47 Space in Toronto reflected on the compulsion to personally connect with (and often transform) the architecture of our surroundings. Over the past couple of years I worked with my father to build a scale model of a specific Victorian house from a neighbourhood where we both used to live. 
Approximately 8’ tall and heavily ornamented, the structure is too small
to be a real house and too large to be a dollhouse.  On the rear wall
of the building, two eyes made from stained glass project animations
depicting architectural sites specific to Toronto that have personal
resonance with me and that nod to the transitioning nature of
neighbourhoods in the city. It was an important project for me. I started to think about larger works with bigger budgets and I am now starting to apply for some more ambitious projects. 

Woodlot Mansion

LP: I am deeply affected by the city I live in and I often incorporate aspects of my surroundings into my work. In one of my drawings titled, The Harbour (Malting), I have used an old grain silo as a reference for this particular work. This grain silo is located on Queens Quay near Bathurst St in Toronto and is one of two remaining silos originally built in 1928 that was used to store malt. Built from concrete, the stripped-down and unadorned functionalism of the building was a precursor to modernist trends in architecture. It has been unused since the 1980’s and there has been debate about how the site should be utilized, with talk of a museum or theme park. I grew up in this neighborhood, which has been quickly developed into a condo landscape. Canada Malting has now become an interesting anomaly in the midst of accelerated development. My own interest in the building comes from a desire to reformulate the material of the building back to wood, in which they were originally built (they were changed to concrete to avoid burning down). I decided to take the concept one step further by rendering the surrounding area in wood to amplify the once natural surroundings that populated this area around Lake Ontario. I imagine Canada Malting to be an eyesore for many of the new condo residents, but it continues to hold a personal resonance with me as I grew up nearby.

ZP: Toronto has really been gaining international attention for events like Nuit Blanche and Art Toronto.  What have these events meant to Toronto’s working artists like yourself?

LP:   Having just witnessed this years Nuit Blanche I have to say that I really like the event.  For many people I know it is art-lite or art that is for entertainment and not for contemplation.  I personally think it can be both.  Both Art Toronto and Nuit Blanche have been good for raising awareness about the Toronto scene in international circles.

Plume

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Arty pylons

Recent traffic around art blogs has been a real barrel of laughs – get it? Joseph Carnevale’s recent ‘barrel monster’ statue — a short-lived work of three construction traffic barrels, some screws and paint — has attracted a lot of attention, and given positive spin to guerrilla art.

If you did a quick Google search for guerrilla art, you’d likely also come up with references to ‘vandalism’, ‘destruction of property’, and graffitti. In this case however, the victim of his vandalous act wants the art installation restored, or at least a new one constructed for display at it’s head office.

I like it. It’s a great way to embrace the light-heartedness of this kind of work. It’s only one example out of a million disparate others, but Carnevale’s stunt is a great illustration of why art isn’t and should never be considered a crime. While this student is facing a court date in July, countless others have been charged over the years for practicing their art in public. It’s a real shame that artists are lumped into the same category as vandals, but according to Carnevale, the charges have been great publicity for his art. Irony abounds.

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The Brange at Basel

Yesterday I tweeted about Brad Pitt buying a $1mil piece of art at Art Basel. The work in question is a Neo Rauch rainbow-colored racetrack painting, “Etappe”.

Star-struckedness aside, I think this is an apt time to mention how sincerely I hope that in years from now I’ll  be able to visit Basel and the other fairs of note so that I can see first-hand the perspectives of other art fairs and their audiences.

Of Switzerland, Steve Erlanger of the New York Times says the movement of the gears is quiet and precise. Rumours of the fair float over my cube walls telling me that in light of, or despite the staid nature of the country, Basel is a classic example of the fun of the art world that can be accessed even by the most tertiary, the most passive citizens of the art world. It’s this accessibility that makes it such fun, no doubt.

“The economic crisis is everywhere, of course, but it’s harder to see in wealthy Basel, where there are still a lot of tourists, and restaurants and hotels seem full,” says Erlanger.

With that in mind, I’ll share with you what occured to me this morning as I was brushing my teeth. I initially learned of the purchase from laineygossip.com, a gossip blog dedicated to the lifestyles (and pitfalls) of the rich and famous. How that nugget of celebrity-cum-collector news made it to the gossips first and the art monitors second I’m not sure.

I feel confident assuming that Pitt’s $1mil buy is neither the only nor the largest of it’s kind at Basel. Renowned for it’s scope and sheer size of it’s audience, it stands to reason that there are likely many purchases of that nature happening at Basel (as they do at every other fair) daily. However, at a time when so many collectors are acquiring pieces on the down-low — the collectors and dealers discretely doing business without disclosing to the media or the public at large what changed hands and for what sum — it feels out of place that this sale should be made so flagrantly public. So why the conspicuous consumption, Mr Pitt?

In my last few posts I’ve discussed how the downturned economy is not such a bad thing for the art world, and a recent National Post article showed that Canadian consumer confidence is currently the highest it’s been in over a year. One of my theories is that this is all about Polo. A couple weeks ago I saw pics of a Hollywood power-couple at a polo match decked head to toe in Ralph Lauren. An obvious endorsement. Is this action at Basel Hollywood’s way of saying that it’s citizens support the arts?

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Art for a moment, for a millenium

Growing up with both parents working as teachers definitely had it’s ups and downs. Luckiuly they were college teachers and so not specially atuned to the cycle of report cards per se, but they certainly added a considerable amount of red ink to every page I printed.

Mom, an English major, and Dad, a Fine Arts major, both found their calling teaching communications types of courses at a community college in my hometown. I overheard many heated conversations about the bastardization and complete obliteration of the english language. Especially in the last ten years, the number of times they said they found short-forms and slang better used in text or messenger messages in formal reprots was astounding.

While I concede to my teacher-parents that there is a time and place when certain things aren’t appropriate, I object to the idea that the english language is being bastardized or devolving. As a student of linguistic anthropology I learned that the lexicon is an organic beast — it changes, adapts, grows — language defined by the users needs and usage. Not such a strange thing; Oxford adds new words to the dictionary every year based on careful studies of ‘common’ uses of such new words.

I digress, I’m not blogging about language, but this is a post about communication and perception.

A lot of more traditional folks like to believe that most technologically based things and specifically things internet-based are just flash-in-the-pan stuff. Or two-dimensional. Sure, you can use it but can you manipulate it?? To these luddites I respond with an emphatic YES.

Artists have been appropriating pop culture for use in their works as long as there has been such a thing as ‘pop’. But more recently artists have been turning elements of pop culture into the art itself. I’ll give a few of the myriad of fantastic examples out there.

David Hockney recently unveiled a series of works done on his iPhone. Although this is something Jorge Colombo has also done. But my personal favorite of the week is Stacey Williams-Ng’s exhibition “What Are You Doing Right Now” in which she perused the status of some 247 Facebook friends to pilfer great lines like “Tony R. could’ve died a superhero but instead he lived to become the villain” which became both title and subject of a portrait.

New media like this is flash-in-the-pan. It won’t be around forever. I have no doubt that Facebook, Twitter and the rest of it will enjoy some notoriety and usefulness until they’re subsumed by something else. But these monsters will not be around when my kids are in their 20s. And that’s what makes this kind of art so here and now, so special. It’s what makes contemporary art representative of this exact moment in time. It’s not the 90s or the 60s, it can only be the first decade of this millenium.

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Crunchy handful

So you’re a collector? Are you sure?

Now you too can Own Art.

The mob mentality.

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Crunchy Handful

Douglas Coupland showing at Monte Clarke Gallery (2339 Granville) from April 9th -May 2nd 2009. An exhibit entitled “Mum and Dad” –the works are highly personal, based on his B.C. upbringing in a family heavy with guns and taxidermy.

This art?? Yeah, it’s sh!t.

Leaving bodies strewn in it’s wake is the Racing Mako.

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