The curators of Get Noticed seem to be saying that one single work of art should be compelling enough to signal the talent of an artist. Artists could only submit one piece of work to the competition for the current exhibition at The Red Head Gallery.
There were more than a few compelling pieces among the 16 visual works of art presented at the opening soirée on Friday night.
The Red Head collective has been in existence since 1990 so they’ve had lots of practice working with emerging artists. Get Noticed is their bi-annual exhibition of visual artists selected by Toronto gallerists noted for actively raising the bar for Canada’s commercial art world.
Here are six of the 16 emerging artists’ works, originally selected from among 200 submissions by Marianne Katzman of Katzman Contemporary, and Richard Rhodes of Richard Rhodes Dupont Projects, that have a definitive style that expands into their larger body of work and sets them apart from the rest.
Mantable by Gord Peteran attracted attention because of its obtrusiveness in the centre of the room, but also because it was unlabeled. At first glance it could have been an ordinary piece of furniture – maybe an antique half-circle entranceway table, except it was fully covered.
The entire structure was wrapped in white leather and stitched in a patchwork style similar to a baseball. Long pieces of thread hung down the sides. The outline of a protruding human head was clearly visible. The table legs transformed into human feet. Other limbs, a deformed hand, the front leg of a large beast, jutted out from the pliable encasement.
Furniture that resembles the human body; is this about eroticism, autoerotic asphyxiation? There’s an added element of fear when you think that the leather could be human flesh. The grotesque, stuff of nightmares, and part of the Victorian era practice of fusing objects with elements of the human body or parts of animals – a form of 19th century shock art.
Some of Peteran’s other works consist of fused objects that subscribe to a conceptual theme. He says, “the objects we surround ourselves with, extend the body in every way, and therefore are symptoms of our deepest struggles.”
Hani Habashi’s IHIpco is a strong example of a piece that is linked to a body of work that carries a visual concept throughout. Habashi’s work draws from architectural and spacial design structures, are made of wood but are painted grey to take on a smooth cement texture and heaviness; much like a building under construction, without roofs, windows or doors, seen from a distance, slabs of wood, an oil rig – objects used to make other things – or things in mid-process of becoming something else. The scale of the image is deceptive; it looks much larger than the actual work on-site. Although the objects resemble familiar structures, there is a surreal element to them. Habashi says his work is inspired by dreams and he completes the physical structures without drawings. So, what might resemble a staircase may actually lead to nowhere.
Kristine Mifsud creates loose, abstract sculptures made out of found pieces of metal, rubber objects, and archival photos.
Katherine Blaszczak, a recent graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU), presented a seminal piece of work from her Fractal Series called Refraction using acrylic paint on canvas. Blaszczak’s work is based on principles of refraction, “the effect of light on the material,” for which her piece is aptly named. Through her work, she examines the metaphors behind diamonds, “the concepts of wealth, eternity and love,” she says. She uses colour and light to exaggerate those principles, and increases the scale, to create a vivid, dramatic presence.
Robert Davidovitz creates textured, colourful woven acrylic paint on canvas. Wave 18, on display at The Red Head Gallery, is part of the Woven Paint series where the paint is treated like textile. The process involves squeezing paint through a piping bag, he says; it’s “a different way to think about painting and textile art.”
Davidovitz’s work received a lot of attention for its complex, multi-layered look, which was achieved with only two layers of paint.
Get Noticed opening, The Red Head Gallery, Dec 9, 2016
One artist who does not appear in the video but whose work carries thematic impact is Gordon Belray, who composes work from historical film. Belray deconstructs pre-internet footage from global history-making events like the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, where stills from different sources or frames are brought into one frame to reconstruct a new narrative of the event.
The piece on display on Friday night was Hertz 12:30 or The Assassination of John F. Kennedy. In the scene we see what happened before, during and after the shooting, including events that may not have actually happened. People are lying on the grass as the motorcade goes by but the president has already been shot. We see the reaction of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, dressed in pink. Black-suited men sprint into motion. On the far left, a clock near a yellow and red HERTZ Rent-A-Car sign atop the Texas School Book Depository building says 12:30. On the far right, a man in a grey jacket with his hands in his pants pockets walks a path leading away from the scene.
Belray describes the resulting tableau as neo-appropriation. The piece is “composed almost entirely from films shot that day by Abraham Zapruder, Mark Bell, Robert Hugh, George Jeffries, Mary Muchmore, Otto Nix and several colorized still photographs. The work is supplemented with a subsequent black and white FBI film reconstructions, an Internet tourist video and a Hollywood recreation.”
The pieces selected by Katzman and Rhodes, both well-known curators of contemporary art, are great indicators of the potential of the artists themselves.
Katzman has an interest in local, international and cultural discourse, while Rhodes has been busy being an arts journalist. He was the editor of Canadian Art Magazine, a contributor to Artforum magazine, an essayist for Artangel, London, UK, and founder of C Magazine. He also lectures at Ryerson University and OCADU.
He was the curator of the 2010 Alberta Biennial exhibition. At Friday’s opening event Rhodes said, “I have to say this is a first for me. I’ve never curated an exhibition that I could see on Google…but I think it turned out okay.”
The exhibition is on view at The Red Head Gallery, 401 Richmond Street West, Suite 115, (Nov 30 to Dec 17); with the opening reception on Friday December 9, 6 PM – 8 PM.
Gallery hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12 – 5 PM
THE 16 NEW ARTISTS SELECTED BY KATZMAN AND RHODES:
Gordon Belray, Toronto
Amélie Jérôme, Montreal
Katherine Blaszczak, Mississauga
Kristine Mifsud, Toronto
Hannah Campbell, Vancouver
Jordan Nahmias, Toronto
Emma Carney, Tottenham
Sara Pearson, Toronto
Caroline Chan, Toronto
Ryan Pechnick, Halton Hills
Robert Davidovitz, Toronto
Gord Peteran, Toronto
Hani Habashi, Toronto
Matthew Tarini, Edmonton
Colin Hill, Toronto
Diana Yoo, London