COOPER COLE is pleased to announce a solo exhibition from Anders Oinonen.
1. A blind and pale lizard crawls out of its cave to bask on a rock. The sun’s warmth feels just as close as the rock at its belly. The sun touches from a distance, reaching without moving. If only the whole world could touch me in this way, thinks the lizard. After many generations of basking in this wish, the lizard finally wills the growth of eyes and the world reaches in at the speed of light to touch them. The sky! The desert! the stars! But the lizard is a late-comer to the world of sight, and is surrounded by a world of blinking, searching eyes, touching and being touched on all sides. The lizard itself has become visible and it retreats hastily to the blindness of the cave. It now only emerges cautiously, to bask and wish for futures of camouflage.
2. A popular superpower of daydreams is invisibility. Not only to rob banks or perv out in locker rooms, but to ride buses, hang out in bars and sit in other people’s living rooms. Invisibility opens up a perversely intimate view, to see people as they are when (they think) they are alone. To watch people think. Lycra-Teen pausing between texts, frozen, finding words. Taupe-Parka-Sloucher gazing vaguely out the window, remembering. Bachelor-Neighbor watching Ghost, sighing. The eyes crave for their own invisibility, to observe unobserved, to see faces both unshown and unseen.
3. Do you sometimes wear dark sunglasses not to block the sun’s glare, but to stare? Wearing sunglasses, vision moves in one direction as it does through one-way glass. For spies, celebrities and voyeurs, dark shades disguise identity, shield emotion and block the gaze. Producing both invisibility and blindness, they move the wearer “out of sight” beyond identification, while making other eyes partially blind, unable to see if they themselves are being watched.
4.You might think that the portrait gallery is a good place for voyeurism but think again. Here, vision is not sun-shaded, but bespectacled. Painted in glittering focus, the subjects pose and display themselves, inviting us to watch. The glass between us may be clear, but what we see is only a staged performance.
5. Between the dark sunglasses of invisibility and the clear spectacles of display are tinted glasses. The faces in Anders Oinonen’s paintings seem set behind lenses coloured by psychedelically oversaturated sunsets, dawns and golden-hours. Cropped to cover the entire canvas, the faces suggest rather than depict settings of sublime landscapes, hinted at by reflections of ambient light or by multi-purposing the face’s simplified shapes: nose-mountain, cheek-river, mouth-cave. The face’s eyes and expression are not focused outward to the implied landscape or to meet the eyes of the viewer or painter. Instead, they are focused inward, to where we can watch it think. Painting is a tool of vision (and vice-versa), but these faces reflect painting’s introvision. Because they do not depict real people or expressions, the faces are instead armatures where the lighting, spacing and shaping capacities of painting can touch down. The face emerges solely through the process of composing the painting, or, in other words, of the painting thinking itself.
6. We are not faking voyeurism at a performance, and we are not withdrawn into invasive invisibility in the locker room. In the shallow, tinted depth held between us, we are together, this face and mine. Viewing-face, painted-face and painting itself form a triangulation of an empathetic gaze, a looped touch. Reaching from a distance, we meet in the middle at the lens of a shared eye.
– Jenine Marsh
Anders Oinonen (b. 1977, Kenora, Canada) received his MFA from the University of Waterloo, and studied for his bachelor’s degree at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, Canada; Portugal Arte 2010, Lisbon, Portugal; Musée d’art contemporarain de Montréal, Montréal, Canada; Max Wigram Gallery, London, UK and at Nuit Blanche, Toronto, Canada. Artist Anders Oinonen currently lives and works in Toronto, Ontario.
The artist would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario. This work was produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.
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