Due to construction in the area, please allow extra travel time when visiting Harbourfront Centre. Details here.

Visual Arts Exhibitions Winter/Spring 2010

January 23 - April 4, 2010

Melissa Doherty, Into the woods no. 5 (detail), 2008. Oil on panel, 20 x 40.5cm. Image courtesy of the artist.

Big/Small

Melissa Doherty, Martha Eleen, Clint Griffin, David Holt, Christopher Martin, Suzanne Nacha, Matthew Schofield, Monica Tap

Curated by Patrick Macaulay

> Profiles

This exhibition brings together eight Ontario-based painters to reveal each participants' unique approach to realizing the landscape.

How do we read and understand a landscape painting?
How does one interpret or translate the landscape through mark-making into a painting?
How can something that is immense and possibly infinite as a landscape be reduced to a small painting?

Within this exhibition there are eight different ways of answering these questions. Each artist approaches the landscape with their own particular process. From the choice of place, to the choice of perspective, to the construction of the image – each work fulfills the artist’s own unique method of defining the landscape. The artist synthesizes the expanse of the landscape “out there” into something that is contained and notated.

Historically, the small landscape was once the precursor or sketch to the larger more grand finished work. Here the case is not so. The works tell the whole story. They present a point of observation that reveals insight and understanding while also giving access to the viewer an unexpected perspective of the land. The paintings are not just about observation and recording, but more about interpretation and reflective thinking about the world out there.

– Patrick Macaulay

Profiles

Melissa Doherty

I’m interested in the concept of how we perceive landscape, and the history of the landscape tradition, with its assertions and sentiments of identity, power and sexuality. The grand tradition of landscape painting adopts a ‘phallic’ eye as it looks outward at frontier space. By contrast, an “engagement with the aerial view offers a re-presentation of landscape. As we look downward to a place of uncompromised introspection, conventional views of the world are revisited. The manufactured heroism found in traditional landscape is supplanted in these works by a manufactured intimacy”.* The aerial view reflects a contemporary notion of landscape where we are above it, superior to it, increasingly unconnected and distanced from it, and changing and rearranging it into a series of prescribed spaces and backdrops.

I’m fascinated by how we landscape the landscape and create views for ourselves (backyard views as well as ideological views). Using a landscape vocabulary (of forests, houses, and roads), my work considers the idea of facade and artifice in landscaping (as well as in identity), examining the relation between design and actual lived.

— Melissa Doherty

* Michael Rattray, paraphrased from his essay on my work for exhibition catalogue, Vignette, Galerie Art Mur, Montreal, 2008.

Melissa Doherty graduated with an Honours B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Waterloo, and was shortlisted in 2002 for the New Canadian Painting Competition through RBC Investments. She is included in the Magenta publication Carte Blanche Volume 2: Painting, a compendium of contemporary Canadian painters. A recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council, her work has been included in exhibitions internationally, and is represented in many private and corporate collections. Melissa has an upcoming exhibition at the Musee des beaux Arts, Sherbrooke, Quebec in 2010, and is represented by the Edward Day Gallery.

melissadoherty.com

Martha Eleen

This painting of the arctic sky is the first in a series of paintings of an Arctic village entitled Distant Early Warning. The title is borrowed from the iconic local DEW line, a radar system set up to protect Canadian sovereignty against invasion during the Cold War. Now the threat to the Arctic has changed and it has become a sort of environmental ‘canary in the tunnel’, as the melting ice reveals a wealth of new resources to exploit, and the resulting pollution threatens this delicate eco-system. Despite dramatic recent changes to the arctic environment the sky there is still without smog. Experiencing this is like a glimpse back to a more primeval time.

Eleen’s Arctic paintings have developed concurrently with on ongoing investigation of suburban sprawl outside Toronto, an environment based on the unsustainable and already collapsing, car culture, where nature is suppressed and destroyed as opposed to nature treasured.

Martha Eleen is an honours graduate of Emily Carr College of Art, Vancouver, Canada. Her paintings have been exhibited in public galleries in Canada, U.S.A and Mexico and will be shown in Japan in 2010. Into the 905: The View From the Car, 2002-2005, Peace Village 2006, High Tech Road 2007-2008 have been exhibited at the St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre, 2009, Fringe Benefits curated by Ian Chodikoff at the Design Exchange, Toronto, 2008, the Art Gallery of Mississauga, 2007, Cambridge Public Gallery, Grimsby Public Gallery and Bricks to Babel curated by Gary Michael Dault at Lehman-Leskiw Gallery, Toronto, 2005. These works have received critical attention in the form of reviews, curatorial essays and publication. Martha Eleen is represented by Loop Gallery in Toronto. She teaches painting and drawing at Toronto School of Art, and will be returning to the Arctic in winter 2010 to teach painting workshops funded by the Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation and NWT Arts Council.

MarthaEleen.com

Clint Griffin

“Ponderous pictures relic”
Builds images, draws and edits using collected material.
“put place make it together”.

— Clint Griffin

Born in 1973, Toronto-based visionary artist Clint Griffin (aka Daedalus and Destro) is a delivery/mover by day and is co-founder and curator of Cuckoocollection.com.

clintgriffin.wordpress.com

David Holt

My recent paintings depict subjects from natural history, architectural history, antiquities collections, and botanical gardens. The garden landscapes are influenced by my love for the classical landscapes of Poussin, Asian landscape painting and calligraphy, and children’s drawings. Although I make many small drawings of the subjects, the paintings themselves are derived purely from imagination and memory. I try to evoke the motifs playfully with abbreviated forms and an economy of means. I also try to make each brushstroke convey something of nature’s energy while serving both representation and composition.

— David Holt

David Holt is painter whose solo exhibitions have included two recent shows at Loop Gallery in Toronto. Other solo shows have included those at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Wassenaar, the Netherlands, Bowery Gallery and Atlantic Gallery in New York City, Dudley House at Harvard University, Marymount College of Fordham University, Southern Connecticut State University, Albertus Magnus College, and the Washington Studio School. Group shows have included those at Loop Gallery and Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts in Toronto, the Painting Center (NYC), College of William and Mary, Georgetown University, and Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts among others. Awards include a residency at the Ragdale Foundation and a grant from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation. An art professor for many years at Marymount College (later part of Fordham University) in New York, Holt now lives in Toronto where he teachers at Upper Canada College.

Christopher Martin

In my work I relish the formal values of traditional abstraction: use of colour, line and shape to expand or confuse space. My compositions are built on intuition, based on nature or borrowed from some synthetic pattern. When analyzing these basic visual components, it is usually real enough for my senses to be satisfied. But when I pay attention to my process of perceiving the work, I am reminded that there is no representational material to create metaphors from, which the brain wants to do, because that is what it is used to doing for survival. What happens then is I ponder the complex leap the mind makes in order to perceive reality. Then I remember that it is just artwork and I should relax, and maybe take another look at all the details, and focus in on the pleasure of doing so.

Christopher Martin was born and raised in Toronto. He graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA. Having spent a year in Rome, Italy, he cultivated a strong love for light as it reflected colour from the various surfaces in his surroundings. Curious observations of nature and the built environment from a quasi-scientific perspective continue to inform the abstract imagery that Martin produces. His work has been seen in Baltimore, New York, Tokyo, Toronto and Providence.

Other collaborative projects include co-hosting 3 seasons of a television show called Food Jammers (Food Network) where quirky contraptions were made with non-ordinary equipment, devised to make special meals or ingredients. Also, recently completed was an outdoor public commission (Bloorview Kids ReHab and Children’s Hospital) sculpture of concrete and metal with glass lens inserts, assuming the anthropomorphic form of a giant poppy seed pod.

Currently, Martin is building a house and studio with his wife north of Toronto, near the Niagara Escarpment.

Suzanne Nacha

“Focused on imagery from underground mine shafts, cave systems and tunnels, my current body of work entitled Origin seeks to present landscape as an internal, intimate location. In many of these paintings a struggle exists between the structure of the space, the shape of the canvas and the very simple marks that define it. With this particular image I was interested in creating a void that would appear as though it was literally carved out of the darkness by the very lights it contained.”

— Suzanne Nacha

Suzanne Nacha is a visual artist engaged in the language of painting. Often incorporating sculpture and installation, her work seeks to make connections between our human experience of the landscape that surrounds us and the earth as a physical mutable body. Born in Hamilton Ontario, Canada, she holds undergraduate degrees in both Geology and Fine Art from McMaster University and the University of Guelph respectively, as well as an MFA from York University in Toronto. She has taught in the Fine Art departments of OCAD, Sheridan/UTM and York University, and for the past fifteen years has worked in the mining industry mapping geographies of fortune and need.

suzannenacha.com

Matthew Schofield

This painting is from a series of work called ‘Making the most of Snap Decisions’ which began when artist Matthew Schofield received his first point-and-shoot film camera at age 11.

Working with a found photo sorted from old boxes he reclaimed at his parent’s home, Schofield approached this piece from a place not at all artificial. The resulting painting is a captured moment – a small painted image on a 4 x 6 inch wooden block – installed as a single event, or as an example of a person’s existence at a specific stage of their life. In ‘Making the most of Snap Decisions’ the incidental photo-documentation of yesteryear is resuscitated and reconsidered as a deliberate oil-based composition of the now.

In 2006 Canadian born artist Matthew Schofield was nominated for an Oscar Award for digital matte painting in the film Superman Returns and most recently was a finalist in the 2009 Kingston Prize for portraiture and published in Magenta’s Carte Blanche II. Schofield has been exhibiting his artwork nationally and internationally since 1998. The overarching theme of his work is painting life’s overlooked moments and then providing order to these random sequences through the process of gallery installation, where the artwork becomes a fragmented film, capturing vignettes of subject matter and composition.

matthewschofield.com

Monica Tap

My paintings are drawn from those tiny 30-second movies you can take with your digital camera, which, in my case, have been largely of landscapes captured on the road. Historically landscape painting was premised upon a stationary observer. Today’s viewer, if present at all, is more likely to view the landscape hurtling by the window of a vehicle, train or airplane.

To make a painting, I extract video stills from any given video clip of these landscapes in motion. Through the light of a data projector, I paint these extracted video stills onto canvas; sometimes a single frame, sometimes multiple frames overlaid.

I’m interested in the space between perception and recognition, between abstraction and landscape, between motion and stillness — between a fraction of a second — and the days it takes to translate it into paint.

— Monica Tap

Monica Tap is an artist whose many activities involve exploring questions of time and representation in painting. Her practice opens up a space between landscape and abstraction, and navigates the terrain between painting and other media. Over the past ten years her canvases, which are conceptual and systematic investigations into the codes of pictorial illusionism and perception, have been exhibited in Canada, New York and London, England. She is the recipient of many grants and awards, most recently from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for her project, “Translation as a Strategy of Renewal in Painting.” She is an Associate Professor in the School of Fine Art and Music at the University of Guelph.

monicatap.com

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