COOPER COLE is pleased to present Fantastic Passage, a two-person exhibition of Toronto-based artist Oreka James and Seattle-based artist Eden Seifu.
Oreka James’ work envisions portals into alternative spaces. Working in painting and sculpture, James thinks of liminal spaces as transformative locations, in which love, spirituality, folklore, oralities can meet with the everyday. Her paintings reference these multifarious influences in ambiguous settings, in which apparitions meet the living whose identities remain private. These safe passages do not have fixed directions, but contain ecclectic non-hierarchical options for wayfinding. James’ monumental sculpture included in this exhibition acts as portal-cum-sundial which visitors can physically walk into, and reflect on transcendant spaces viscerally as well as visually.
Eden Seifu’s paintings collapse fantasy, the supernatural, ancient spiritual practices, and the sublime to create mythical realms in which the conscious and subconscious coexist. Her works reference the everyday gestures that shape our lives but are also thematized in the history of Western painting, such as bathing, praying, and repose. Seifu does not mimic nor adhere to particular schools of painting, but uses the medium as a way of visualizing the interminglings between societal structures, bodily knowledge, and emotive speculation. With titles that offer glimpses into the artist’s mindset with each work, Seifu monumentalizes the everyday through her own language that eschews linear narrativization in favour of truths that are multiple, layered, and tangled.
Both James and Seifu look to the remnants of various, intersecting histories as a way of carving new paths of thought. These emerging artists engage in meticulous material practices that cut through and counter dominant narratives of linearity, knowability, and reason that is hollowed-out of spiritual and bodily knowledge. Together these artists offer new visions of ourselves.
Oreka James (b. 1991, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) creates paintings and sculptures of portals to alternative realms, in which moments of love, spirituality, the metaphysical and the ephemeral collide. Informed by oralities and folklore, she recalls peoples, places, and stories deeply rooted in their personal life and culture, considering the excavation of histories and futures as a means of wayfinding. Sometimes rendering objects and symbols that hold esoteric knowledge as placeholders for the unknown, James is committed to finding connections between fabricated and literal scapes. James received their BFA in Drawing and Painting at the Ontario College of Art and Design University while studying Furniture Design. She has completed a group residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario and has shown at spaces such as Projet Pangee, Montreal; Efrain Lopez Lopez Project Space, Chicago; Patel Brown Gallery, Toronto; Mercer Union, Toronto; Gallery 44, Toronto; and Margin of Eras Gallery, Toronto; James currently lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Eden Seifu (b. 1996 Boston, Massachusetts, USA) creates paintings that operate similar to folktales: taking absurd, fantastic, surreal, humourous, and unsettling approaches to existential questions of life, journey, and death. Her influences range widely, and include the natural sciences, mysticism, Russian symbolism, comic books, thrift stores, and Mannerist painting. Seifu earned her BA at the University of Washington, and her paintings have been published in the University of Washington Bricolage Journal. She has exhibited at Half Gallery, Los Angeles; Deli Gallery, New York; Arsenal Contemporary, Toronto; and the Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle. Seifu lives and works in Seattle, Washington, USA.
Oil and acrylic on canvas, nails
Oil, acrylic and pastel canvas, nails
PVC piping, chicken wire, armature wire, zip ties, newspaper, wheat paste, tape, cardboard, compound, PVC glue, flocking, linseed oil, soil
Fabric on plywood, brushed aluminum, motor
In the Roundel There Is A Vision Of Happiness Ever More Sweet And Painful For It’s Blur
In the Roundel There Is A Vision Of Happiness Ever More Sweet And Painful For It's Blur, 2021
Acrylic and collage on paper
Oh God I Could Feel So Clean
Oh God I Could Feel So Clean, 2021
Acrylic on paper and cardboard
Michael and Angela: Altar of Love
Michael and Angela: Altar of Love, 2021
Acrylic and pumice on canvas