Daniel Rios Rodriguez Featured on Contemporary Art Daily

November 15, 2019

Daniel Rios Rodriguez’s solo exhibition Another Fire is featured on Contemporary Art Daily.

Artist: Daniel Rios Rodriguez

Venue: Cooper Cole, Toronto

Exhibition Title: Another Fire

Date: October 25 – December 7, 2019

 

To view the full post please visit Contemporary Art Daily.

For more information about Daniel Rios Rodriguez please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Sara Cwynar Featured in British Journal of Photography

November 14, 2019

Sara Cwynar featured in British Journal of Photography.

In Efrem Zelony-Mindell’s latest book, n e w f l e s h, a collection of 68 artists’ work challenges conventional depictions of gender and identity

“The self is not nearly as solid and definitive as it is abstracted and ephemeral,” writes curator and artist Efrem Zelony-Mindell in their introduction to n e w f l e s h, a publication that explores what queerness looks like beyond the human form. “Behind the skin is more than a man or a woman. There’s a person — a human — full of so many parts, feelings, and ideas. Photography can personify the forming of these personal characteristics,” he continues.

Comprising lens-based work by 68 artists, n e w f l e s h forces us to look beyond the familiar, at the abstraction a camera is capable of achieving, and what images can represent about gender and identity. “I want people to come to it with their own ideas and own theories,” says Zelony-Mindell, explaining how the project was born out of a dissatisfaction with conventional images that depict gay and queer people through idealised or sexualised human bodies. “I thought that if this was what was parading around as the standard, I have a problem with that. But rather than be repelled by it, I wanted to lean into that discomfort.”

Published and designed by Jason Koxvold’s New York publishing imprint, Gnomic Book, n e w f l e s h is deceptively light, weighing just 620 grams, with a Coptic binding that opens up and gives value to each spread and image. The cover comprises a copper rectangle, which, if you lean in close enough, is reflective. “I’ve been enjoying the selfies that people have been sending. It really furthers that idea of bringing yourself and your ideas into the conversation that is explored inside,” says Zelony-Mindell. The artwork is broken up by essays from curators Charlotte Cotton and Ashley McNelis, which reflect on the role of photography in this new discourse.

The featured artists include Delaney AllenDavid Brandon Geeting, Sarah Palmer, Eva Stenram, Kenta Cobayashi, Daniel Shea, Ruth van Beek, Sara CwynarVasantha Yogananthan, and Paul Mpagi Sepuya. “Everyone is excited to be part of this conversation, and to be next to other artists they look up to,” says the curator. “One thing that flatters me most is artists who have said that they wanted their work to be spoken about in terms of body, identity and gender politics.”

Zelony-Mindell began the project around three years ago. At first, they were mostly collecting images that represented their own taste and aesthetic in the context of queerness and gender identity. “But as I started to develop the concept, I realised that it was about more than just my taste. Taste is about candy bars, it has its place, but I wanted to expand on the conversation,” they say. “I like the idea of pushing the boundaries of both the concepts and the ideologies that n e w f l e s h deals with.”

Three years ago, Zelony-Mindell published a portfolio of nine works in Dear Dave magazine, which accompanied a show at the RUBBER FACTORY in New York’s Lower East Side. This summer, to accompany the publication of the book, a second iteration of the show featuring 22 artists was presented at The Light Factory in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I wanted to keep up the idea of the same thesis and idea for the show but I want the artists to be changing,” says Zelony-Mindell, explaining how he hopes to feature different work in the exhibitions and publications that will follow. As the conversation surrounding gender identity and queerness moves forward, so too will the work that explores it: ” Every part of n e w f l e s h adds a different layer or addresses a different part of the conversation.”

To view the full post please visit British Journal of Photography. 

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Sara Cwynar featured in Hyperallergic

November 14, 2019

Surface Knowledge, the latest Flaherty NYC screening series, presents enthralling experimental documentary shorts which play with ways of seeing and experiencing the world and features Sara Cwynar.

Experimental films often subvert our understanding of cinematic surfaces, with complex layers of sound and vision. The media arts organization The Flaherty is currently in the midst of presenting Flaherty NYC, a sprawling series of short film programs with the unifying theme of “surface knowledge.” The opening night program, Electric Narcissus, featured a Q&A with veteran filmmaker Joan Jonas and drew a sold-out crowd at Metrograph — a noteworthy feat for a selection of often puzzling but aesthetically rewarding little films. Electric Narcissus marked a strong start for the series, which runs through December. Jonas’s 1972 films Left Side, Right Side and Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy were standouts of layered black-and-white self-portraiture. Asked about her artistic process, Jonas quipped, “Frankly, I smoked a lot of grass” — a perfectly succinct encapsulation of an artistic era.

Surface Knowledge doesn’t just look to the past. The series has an admirable scope, showing films from the 1920s to the present. Each program has a distinct theme, such as the environment (The Face of the Planet), geopolitics and trauma (Prisoner’s Cinema), and intellectual inquiry (What the Greeks Call—). Curated by Courtney Stephens and Mathilde Walker-Billaud, the series aims to look at “a different mode of epistemology and means of grasping the visible world, from optical systems of classification to the reflective pool of Narcissus.”

This heady mission statement might be daunting, but many of the films are surprisingly approachable, making use of familiar imagery culled from video games, advertising, or selfies and twisting them into uncanny new forms. With selections from the US, Brazil, France, Iran, Morocco, and elsewhere, and a variety of interpretations of what the cinematic surface can do, there’s something for every cinephile. While Stephens and Walker-Billaud’s vision is admirably diverse, it also feels deeply idiosyncratic, and raises questions of what “surface” in this context even means. It’s unlikely that most moviegoers would attend all six nights, and one wonders if some of the curatorial vision might end up lost as a result. The majority of the films, even the ones shot on 16mm or 35mm, are projected digitally. While this may be due more to the difficulties of tracking down original prints than anything else, it does seem to add one more facet to the programs’ interests in palimpsest.

One of the standout programs is Seductive Surfaces, featuring films which “celebrate artifice, glamour, and ‘thing-ness’ while revealing uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes violent points of intersection.” The focus on glamour is a welcome change from the seriousness and aesthetic inscrutability often associated with non-narrative film, and each one pokes holes in how we typically think of seduction. In addition to experimental films, the eclectic series includes an audiovisual lecture by historian Daniel Paul on the highly specific topic of late-modern mirror glass architecture from 1970 to 1985. What the Greeks Call— features a 45-minute live performance by artist Ellie Ga. Stephens and Walker-Billaud’s presentation of surfaces expands beyond the screen, branching into what they call “performative interventions.” In a cinematic landscape increasingly fueled by the garish spectacles of 3D and 4DX, it’s exciting to see art made outside of the mainstream be reaffirmed as a part, however esoteric, of experiential moviegoing.

Seductive Surfaces includes artist Sara Cwynar’s Red Film, a clever take on consumer culture that features a gloriously lush palette and juxtaposes images of makeup with a highbrow voiceover reading lines from the great thinkers. The imagery is arresting — shots of made-up women posing in colorful tableaus recall glossy fashion magazine photography — but as the film progresses, things feel increasingly off, as Cwynar, seen onscreen, hangs upside-down and the monotone voiceover builds a vague sensation of claustrophobia. Many of the films in the series are made by women, and there’s a frequent focus on the conflict between real and fake — a dichotomy long associated with feminist discourse. Sondra Perry explores this tension with creepy precision in Graft and Ash for a Three Monitor Work Station, in which the artist’s head appears as a disembodied avatar that seems all-seeing. Jonas’s Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy, made decades before Cwynar or Perry’s films, uses mirrors and a plastic mask to explore the slipperiness of feminine identity.

Stephens and Walker-Billaud’s curatorial vision feels optimistic. The program notes describe Surface Knowledge as a series of “cross-generational conversations.” The screenings provide ample space for these conversations to echo one another and evolve, and the viewer is welcome to become a part of the dialogue. These surfaces both conceal and reveal, enthralling us.

To view the full post please visit Hyperallergic.

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

ektor garcia Acquired by The Whitney Museum

November 14, 2019

ektor garcia recently acquired by The Whitney Museum and is featured in Artforum.

The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York has added more than 250 works of art to its collection since last April, including eighty-eight works by forty artists who participated in the 2019 Whitney Biennial. Among the artists whose works will join the institution’s holdings for the first time are Laura Aguilar, Maria Berrio, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, ektor garcia, Ajay Kurian, Wendy Red Star, and Wallace & Donahue.

“Through the biennial and our emerging artist program, the Whitney is committed to adding new voices to our collection, but we’re also deepening our relationships with artists already represented in it, with acquisitions of works by, among others, Alex Da Corte, Simone Leigh, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Hank Willis Thomas,” Scott Rothkopf, senior deputy director and chief curator, said in a statement. “We are particularly proud that our recent gifts and purchases highlight the museum’s increased scholarship on and engagement with Latinx and Indigenous artists.”

The Whitney’s collection, which includes nearly 25,000 works created by approximately 3,500 artists during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, begins with Ashcan School painting and follows the major movements of the twentieth century in America. Its new acquisitions include John Edmonds’s portraits Tête d’Homme, 2018, and The Villain, 2018; Janiva Ellis’s canvas Uh Oh, Look Who Got Wet, 2019; Kota Ezawa’s projected video animation National Anthem, 2018, on the NFL players who took a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in protest of police violence; and Daniel Lind-Ramos’s Maria-Maria, 2019, an assembled sculpture made of found materials that references the Virgin Mary and Hurricane Maria.

 

To view the full post please visit Artforum.

For more information about ektor garcia please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Kate Newby Featured in Mousse Magazine

November 7, 2019

Kate Newby’s solo exhibition Loved like a sunbeam at MADRAGOA, Lisbon, has been featured in Mousse Magazine.

To view the full article please visit Mousse Magazine.

For more information about Kate Newby please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Sara Cwynar reviewed in Document Journal

November 7, 2019

A work in Sara Cwynar’s solo exhibition titled Gilded Age at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is reviewed in Document.

Easy, breezy, beautiful: Sara Cwynar’s ’Covergirl’ and the political economy of color

In Ancient Egypt, color was considered an essential part of an item or person’s nature—so much so, that the Egyptian word “iwen” was used interchangeably to mean appearance, character, or being. Through the symbolic application of color, they imbued their art, clothing, and jewelry with a deeper layer of meaning that could be interpreted according to the object’s hue. While the evolution of these systems varies among different cultures and time periods, the widespread use of color as nonverbal social code helped cement the legacy of dye and other colorants as one of the most highly valued trade goods in the ancient world.

Canadian-born artist Sara Cwynar investigates the relationship between color, cosmetics, and social capital in her 16mm short film Covergirl (2018). Currently on view at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the film mixes footage shot within the artist’s studio and in an undisclosed makeup factory, punctuated with shots of flowers, red lips, and dripping colorants. Images accumulate and dissolve, producing a peculiar flattening of signal power; as with her representative works, Cwynar’s expert manipulation of pop culture imagery serves to collapse the distance between cultures old and new, high and low, unfamiliar and cliché.

The focus of Covergirl alternates between the factory floor and studio footage of Cwynar’s friend and longtime muse, Tracy. In a 2018 interview with Aperture, Cwynar remarks that she picked Tracy as a sitter because “she poses kind of ironically, with the knowledge of a history of representations of women in mind.” We watch as she carefully applies lipstick, shifts in glossy red shoes, reclines on the couch like an odalisque. Yet even as she performs the gestures of feminine deference, there is a sense of barely contained subterfuge: her image courts the gaze, while her confrontational glance condemns it.

All the while, the narrator’s voice—a combination of the artist’s plus male and female voice actors—maintains a staccato quality even as it speaks over itself. The auditory overlap mimics the symbolic density of Cwynar’s visual landscape, juxtaposing the aesthetic of consumerism with the contributions of dominant cultural theorists as quotes from Ludwig Wittgenstein, Frantz Fanon, Henri Matisse, David Batchelor, Kathy Peiss, and Susan Stewart comingle with the artist’s wry observations about everything from the ontological perception of color—“the essential thing about private experience is really not that each person experiences her own color, but that nobody knows whether other people have [this or] something else”—to its complicated relationship with social status—“The taste for color costs many sacrifices.”

Before the advent of synthetic dyes, the market value of a color was determined by the difficulty of its production. To harvest Tyrian purple, marine snails were boiled for days in giant vats to produce a single kilo of the famed hue, with thousands of shells and countless hours of labor required to color even the trim of a single garment. This turned purple-dyed textiles into elite status symbols ruled by sumptuary laws, and by the fourth century AD, Tyrian purple was so closely regulated in Rome that the emperor was the only person permitted to wear it.

Though purple came to be seen as a symbol of elite status—it would clothe many a king, noble, priest, and magistrate—the use of color as a class signifier extends far beyond the singular shade. As Philip Ball describes it, “Medieval and Renaissance cultures were virtually color-coded hierarchies. Crimson and scarlet garments were for cardinals, bishops, popes, and monarchs, echoing the ruby-purple of the emperor’s robes in classical Rome. Clothing displaying other rich colors was a mark of wealth; black in particular came to signify the conspicuous consumption of the affluent merchants, who could afford cloth dyed in several expensive dyes until it took on this somber shade.”

The advent of new dyes marked a major transformation in value, and black—notoriously expensive to produce throughout the 16th century—suddenly became accessible to the masses. By the 19th century, it had been adopted as a standard uniform color for service professions, including the shopgirls who staffed retail shop floors, fully entering into the cultural mainstream with the introduction of Chanel’s little black dress in 1926 (in The Atlantic, Shelley Puhak describes how shopgirl style was later co-opted by the upper classes as a symbol of modern ease, bringing the color’s evolving class associations full circle.)

Not limited to the textile trade, the use of color to denote class differences is a common feature of many ancient cosmetic traditions. In 3000 B.C. China, men and women stained their fingernails with substances like gum arabic, gelatin, beeswax, and egg to produce a class-based color code, with only Chou dynasty royals permitted to wear gold and silver (while subsequent royals could wear black or red, the lower classes were, predictably, forbidden from coloring their nails at all.) When pale skin came to be seen as a marker of aristocratic status, white powder and lead paint were used to mimic the look of one who could afford leisure time indoors. In the 18th century, women would bleed themselves to induce a white-ish cast, whereas society women in Elizabethan England took to wearing egg whites on their faces in pursuit of a paler complexion.

Though we may not bathe in milk like Cleopatra, today’s women still manipulate our natural skin tone with chemicals to attain an even, plump, and poreless complexion—which constitutes a class signifier in and of itself, as Amanda Mull described in The Atlantic. Studies show that the average woman uses between nine and 15 personal care products per day, and with the typical product containing anything from 15-50 ingredients, researchers have estimated that with the combined use of cosmetics and perfumes, women place around 515 individual chemicals on their skin each day. The intersection of color and class association is also informed by a racist history that pervades the language of cosmetics advertising. (For example, even the most innocuous moisturizers claim to affect a brighter—and lighter—complexion; meanwhile, skin bleaching products retain a global market despite toxic or unknown safety profiles.)

“Most of our information on makeup comes from a hostile tradition, written by men regarding women,” states Cwynar, over footage of cosmetics being automatically dispensed and packaged on an assembly line. The mechanized production and distribution of makeup products calls to mind the manner in which beauty standards are socially disseminated throughout a culture. Deemed “the noblest of the senses,” the role of vision is especially dominant in Western thought; this makes it easy to forget the brunt of societal forces involved in fostering the desire for beauty, which is in many ways commensurate with other forms of success and social status. As Cwynar puts it, “In order to achieve [that success], whether it be mental, physical, financial, or social, one has to be looked at by everyone with whom one comes into contact.”

Covergirl is part of Sara Cwynar’s exhibition Gilded Age, on view at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut through November 10th.

— Camille Sojit

 

To view the full article please visit Document.

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Jenine Marsh featured in Daily Lazy

November 7, 2019

Jenine Marsh’s current solo exhibition the dirt under my nails at Centre Clark has been featured in Daily Lazy.

Jenine Marsh / the dirt under my nails
October 24 – November 30, 2019
The Centre d’art et de diffusion CLARK
455 Avenue de Gaspé #114
Montreal, Canada

 

To view the full post please visit Daily Lazy.

For more information about Jenine Marsh please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Vikky Alexander Featured on CBC Arts: Exhibitionists

October 31, 2019

Vikky Alexander’s retrospective Extreme Beauty at the Vancouver Art Gallery is profiled on CBC Arts: Exhibitionists.

Installation view of Vikky Alexander: Extreme Beauty, exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, July 6th, 2019 to January 26th, 2020

retrospective of an artist’s career is a celebration. And generally, it comes after the artist has created enough work that you could safely divide it into chapters or periods — it becomes a sort of narrative arc of an artist’s career. That might suggest that it comes to conclusions. But for artist Vikky Alexander, her retrospective has become not only a point of generation for new work, but a way to process what she’s been doing for the past few decades.

Alexander came up during the era of photoconceptualism, alongside peers like Barbara Kruger. Her work appropriated imagery from slick fashion magazines to talk about desire, commodity and how we see ourselves. That work has changed over the decades as Alexander’s opened up different concerns in her work, but the central idea of desire and consumer culture has remained the focal point.

In this video by filmmaker Lesya Nak at Alexander’s Montreal studio, the artist takes you through some of her work from the 1980s and explains how self-reflection has been crucial to her work. And she tells you how this retrospective has only inspired her to make new work.

Talking about her new series of sculptures made of dichroic glass, Alexander notes that, while they’re visually quite distant from some of her work in the past, they build on ideas she’s been exploring for some time. “Like most of my work, these sculptural pieces identify a site of desire like something that somebody wants,” she says. “For me they represent an idealized version of a domestic environment. It’s nice to think of projects from the ’80s that I can — I wouldn’t say resurrect but, you know, work with again in 2020.”

Additional footage in this piece came from filmmaker Daniel Lins da Silva.

Find out more about Vikky Alexander hereVikky Alexander: Extreme Beauty” is at the Vancouver Art Gallery until January 26, 2020.

— Lise Hosein

 

To view the full article please visit CBC Arts: Exhibitionists.

For more information about Vikky Alexander please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Kara Hamilton Featured on Art Viewer

October 31, 2019

Nothing is Wild, a solo exhibition of works by Kara Hamilton is featured on Art Viewer.

Artist: Kara Hamilton

Exhibition title: Nothing is Wild

Venue: COOPER COLE, Toronto, Canada

Date: September 12 – October 19, 2019

 

To view the full article please visit Art Viewer.

For more information about Zachary Leener or Anders Oinonen please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Tau Lewis Featured on Art Basel

October 18, 2019
Tags: News, Tau Lewis

Tau Lewis’ forthcoming solo presentation at Art Basel Miami Beach is featured on Art Basel.

A conversation with Tau Lewis is an exercise in looking back as much as in looking forward. In discussing her figurative sculptures, she circles her art ancestry as frequently as she projects fresh narrative threads onto the work. Running this temporal gamut, she typically pivots around three themes: the potential for emotive transference in found materials, the imagining of new geographies for black existence, and the production of something generative, even as she incorporates the painful legacy of the Black Diaspora. As such, Lewis’ practice – which has become increasingly recognized internationally during its brief six years – feels at once melancholic and hopeful, and somewhere in between, tenacious and inventive.

Over the course of a studio visit with Lewis on a hot September day, I observe her sit almost intimately near a sculpture central to her upcoming presentation in Art Basel Miami Beach’s Positions sector (with Toronto gallery Cooper Cole). Harmony (2019) is long-limbed, spindly, and roughly sewn together – a spidery black figure in a posture of meditation, holding a threadbare, emptied-out globe. Her toenails are made of seashells that look like pale moons, as are her breasts. Her face carries several sets of eyes, and the darning of her black body suggests empathy and intensity, her stitching worked-over and hard-won. Harmony looks as if it has lived a very storied life.

Invested in what she calls the ‘material DNA’ of her fabrics, Lewis takes donations and scours the Salvation Army shops in whichever place she’s visiting to source her textiles. She works while on the road, between fairs and exhibitions, finding new swathes and quilting from her suitcase. The artist has long favored found objects (chains, paint cans, pipes, toys, hair, stones, copper, fabric, wires, acrylic paint, plaster), but recently she’s been particularly involved with fabric. In reviving discarded commodities, Lewis tells me, she transmutes their received histories and energies, and reveals the material’s provisional, labor-intensive nature as well as its evocations of the itinerant realities of the Black Diaspora. ‘So many of our cultural tools, especially against oppression, have to do with physical or situational upcycling,’ she says, ‘[whether] of a circumstance or an idea or an object.’

Born in 1993 to a Jamaican-Canadian family in Toronto, Lewis has quickly established herself among a wave of young figurative sculptors. Taking what has been described in Flash Art as a ‘wayward approach to figuration’, ‘Lewis’s […] practice orbits rather than settles on portraiture,’ writes Tiana Reid. With her family of sculptures, ‘the figural is where representation breaks down.’ Self-taught (Lewis started school twice – for design and journalism, respectively – but says it was a bad fit), Lewis produces work that exemplifies an ‘outsider’ aesthetic that has received much attention in recent years – if for its articulation of a particular kind of margin.

An undeniable marker of Lewis’ precocious achievements is a slew of recent solo and group exhibitions at galleries including Chapter NY, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and The Hepworth Wakefield, UK. Reflecting on this rapid rise to critical and commercial success, Lewis weighs her options. ‘I do think about this restriction of access that we can exercise as artists. How do I reserve myself and not feel like I’m giving everything away when I’m giving so much away?’ she asks. In response, at least partially, Lewis focuses on the labor of her practice and embeds secrets in the works – small talismans, texts – to mark them as her own.

A recent piece establishes a hand-sewn ‘map’ or family tree for one of her figures, and indeed, the figure and map come as a set, like a new friend who arrives with their stories and traumas. Titled Sparkles and Sparkles’s Map Home (2018), a stuffed, doll-like character sits on a chair, appearing relaxed, its legs crossed and head tilted to the side contemplatively. Hanging behind Sparkles is a visual shorthand of her personal history, the ‘map.’ It’s a patchwork of worn and loved materials riven with amulets, replete with memory and narrative gesture. This is the piece that began Lewis’ most recent series – the one where she began a new story.

Arguably part of Lewis’ desirability as an artist, but also part of her ability to mitigate its attendant scrutiny, is her sculptures’ sense of otherworldliness. This incorporeality can be traced to her aspiration to tell stories that feel future-oriented. She imagines her figures acting out narratives in space, or beneath the sea; she refers to recent works as mermaids, or as something unnamable, or spectral. In this way, Lewis grasps for something more generative or self-determined than the stories of loss and hardship that are threaded through her media. She gestures towards a new mythology, she says. Curtis Santiago, a peer Canadian figurative sculptor based in Brooklyn, New York, articulated a similar sentiment for his two-person show with Lewis at Cooper Cole in 2017. ‘I don’t want to talk about diaspora anymore,’ he wrote in the exhibition text. ‘I want to create spaces to think about it.’

The celebrated Pakistani-American sculptor Huma Bhabha could be a kind of godmother to Lewis and her peers – a notable generation of emerging figurative sculptors that includes Santiago, Diamond Stingily, and Kevin Beasley. Bhabha has asserted that her work benefits from the influence of science fiction and horror films. ‘Viewers won’t necessarily make the same connections, but I want them to have the pleasure of looking at something that calls other things to mind,’ she said in a 2010 Art in America interview with Steel Stillman. Stillman likens Bhabha’s work to ruins and notes how she exercises the ‘figurative idiom’ through found materials and recognizable postures. She then applies it ‘as the metaphoric basis for an art that, like science fiction, reports and warns at the same time.’ This simultaneous reporting and warning feels particularly relevant to Lewis’ practice, discernible in her use of found material that carries its history into new forms, for instance, or in the way she reaches backwards for ancestral citations, even as she crafts stories for the future.

What are also central to Lewis’ practice are the mobility, legibility, and protection that can be afforded by collaboration and collectivism. She landed her first studio in the Coffin Factory, an artist-run building that was recently shuttered in Toronto, where she shared a space with seven other women. From there, Lewis joined the RAGGA NYC collective, which comprises queer Caribbean artists including Oreka James, Aaron Jones, Michèle Pearson Clarke, Camille Turner, and Syrus Marcus Ware. Within this context, Lewis has had the opportunity to show at MoMA PS1, New York, and Mercer Union, Toronto, among other institutions, and to align her work with particular conversations around figuration in black Canada, visibility, and what she calls ‘the wandering.’ Lewis reflects on this as she puts together her presentation for Art Basel. ‘What does it mean for folks in the diaspora to wander? Not for the purpose of finding answers, but for the purpose of wandering. What does this tendency to mythmaking represent in us? Why do we recycle?’ she asks.

Lewis extends this wandering and upcycling to her own education, regularly traveling to seek out the artists who affect her the most. ‘I figured out that if I really adored someone and their art, and they’re alive, I should try to find them and see their work in person.’ This has led her to meet with Lonnie Holley, an Atlanta-based icon among Southern folk art, the sculptors and painters represented by Souls Grown Deep Foundation, a community dedicated to promoting African-American art from the South, and the Gee’s Bend quilting association. ‘I think there’s a lineage,’ she says, gesturing to her own work, ‘though I do think there’s a cut-off of access at a certain point.’ I ask her what she means by this, and she explains by way of process, citing her tendency to embed objects in her sculptures. Acknowledging what’s unknowable about her art ancestry is similarly about preserving autonomy, she says, ‘There will always be things about blackness and experience that are simply not knowable, or to be captured or bought.’ And so Lewis turns to the imaginary.

Sky Goodden is the founding publisher and editor of the international art publication and podcast Momus.

 

To view the full article please visit Art Basel.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Kate Newby featured in Mousse Magazine

October 17, 2019

Kate Newby’s current solo exhibition Nothing in my life feels big enough has been featured in Mousse Magazine.

To view the full article please visit Mousse Magazine.

For more information about Kate Newby please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Kate Newby featured on Contemporary Art Daily

October 17, 2019

Kate Newby’s solo exhibition Nothing in my life feels big enough is featured on Contemporary Art Daily. 

To view the full article please visit Contemporary Art Daily. 

For more information about Kate Newby please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Kara Hamilton featured in tzvetnik

October 12, 2019

Kara Hamilton’s current solo show Nothing is wild is featured in tzvetnik.

To view the full article please visit tzvetnik.

For more information about Kara Hamilton please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Curtist Talwst Santiago is ‘In the Studio’ for Canadian Art

October 3, 2019

In advance of the inaugural Toronto Biennial this fall, Canadian Art is publishing a weekly series of behind-the-scenes features from artists, curators and participants in which they discuss the research and processes that inform their practices.

Curtis Talwst Santiago was a musician before he decided to devote himself solely to visual art. As a multidisciplinary artist, he first gained attention with his miniature dioramas; he’s now presenting performance, sculpture and painting projects in Canada, the United States, and abroad. He’s shown at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, the Studio Museum in Harlem (New York), Perez Art Museum (Miami), as well as the 2018 SITELines Biennial in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the 2018 Biennale de Dakar, Senegal. This fall, he’s participating in the inaugural Toronto Biennial. Here, he talks about some of the themes that inform his practice.

To view the video please visit Canadian Art.

For more information about Curtis Talwst Santiago please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

 

Vikky Alexander is Reviewed in Canadian Art

September 26, 2019

Vikky Alexander’s solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery is reviewed by Jayne Wilkinson in Canadian Art.

One of few Canadian artists associated with the Pictures Generation in 1980s New York, Alexander is known for her use of appropriation to critique the conventions of the advertising industry. That’s where “Extreme Beauty,” her first career-spanning retrospective, begins, with a series depicting ’80s supermodel Christie Brinkley in cropped and enlarged images framed under yellow glass. Obsessive and voyeuristic, their overt manipulation still startles, raising questions around authorship and image ownership anew. Her use of highly reflective coloured glass (elsewhere it’s black for full mirrored effect) implicates viewers too, such that one’s own gaze becomes simultaneous with the model’s, two sets of eyes staring back from within the frame.

Consumerism is a clear reference point but conceptually the works demonstrate how surface reflections produce images with no depth. That’s critical. By expanding the boundaries of what constitutes a photograph— through sculpture, collage, Plexiglas, mirrors and murals—Alexander points out how advertising is vacant, even objectless. In our era of Instagram consumption, this continues to ring true: it’s about selling the idea of the image and the desire of looking, not the product itself.

Surprising, to me, was how much of the work manipulated surface effects to confront the artificiality of nature, and reveal our desire for smooth images of “natural beauty.” Forests and lakes get the same treatment as the supermodel or the showroom: reflective glass, high-gloss finish, lifestyle-marketing and product placement. Wall-size murals read like ads for national parks, reproductions of model condo suites look not-quite-right, modern interiors are furnished with fake wood panelling and boutique pets—all of it suggests that nature is something constructed, to be looked at from safe distance.

It’s a body of work perfectly suited for Vancouver, whose flowering trees and snow-topped mountains and sunset beaches are impossible not to see, reflected as they are in the abundant blue-green glass of the city’s mirrored modernism. Drawn to extremes of beauty, in nature or otherwise, we rarely seek truly unmediated experiences; Alexander pointed that out decades ago, and it’s a lesson that’s aged well.

— Jayne Wilkinson

To view the full article please visit Canadian Art.

For more information about Vikky Alexander please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

 

Geoff McFetridge is reviewed in Canadian Art

September 26, 2019

Geoff McFetridge’s solo exhibition at Cooper Cole is reviewed by Kelsey Adams in Canadian Art.

Geoff McFetridge’s solo show was a utopian dream. His subjects are all configured in balanced symmetry: people free from hegemonic hierarchy. A functional collectivity emerges through McFetridge’s trademark symbolic language of clean lines and rounded shapes. There’s little detail to these ambiguous characters, and the simplicity of the artist’s linework points to his graphic-design tendencies. Everything is reduced to its purest form.

McFetridge’s depictions of colourful figures set against muted tones that hold, lean on and create congruence, feed into my naive wish for human solidarity. This motif of everyone being united could easily be dismissed as shallow kumbaya-togetherness. But at a time when humanity seems irreparably stratified and disconnected, collective understanding is a crucial artistic and philosophical endeavour. Rather than overtly critiquing the world as it is, McFetridge attempts to rebuild it in a more optimistic image. In A Positive Future Built of Incremental Change (2019), dozens of figures lean in, their heads forming a circle. In Another Kind of Agreeing (2019), floating heads form an oval and bodies seem to melt into each other. Both paintings suggest caretaking with simple gestures like a hand on a shoulder. There’s a closeness to the bodies that suggests they’re equal parts of a whole: if one is missing, the entire form falls apart.

McFetridge has worked at the intersection of painting and design for much of his career. He lays out his figures in hexagonal, square and circular shapes emblematic of logos. Some of the titles allude to design, such as Us as Kerning Not the Font (2019) and A Logo For Parenting (2019). None of the figures have faces, imbuing them with a universality that makes them relatable. These are blank slates for viewers to project upon, and they work as a form of advertising—McFetridge is selling us a dream.

Some of the paintings resist easy ideas of togetherness. An Escalator for Understanding (2019) depicts three people walking on others’ heads, and could signify an oppressor being bolstered by the exploitation of the less powerful. However, these characters could, as the title indicates, merely be benefiting from shared knowledge. There’s a cheeky playfulness about these works that reminds us to not treat them too earnestly.

Our lives have been individual-focused for such a long time—some might say since the onset of Western capitalism—that McFetridge’s vision of collectivity seems far from attainable. But by creating works that are both accessible and comforting, his offering is a sliver of hope.

— Kelsey Adams

To view the full article please visit Canadian Art.

For more information about Geoff McFetridge please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

 

Kate Newby Receives Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant

September 25, 2019

Kate Newby was one of twenty-five recipients of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors grant for 2019, announced in Artforum.

The Joan Mitchell Foundation announced today the twenty-five recipients of this year’s Painters and Sculptors Grants, which provide $625,000 in unrestricted funds to artists annually. In addition to receiving $25,000 in financial support, each grant recipient is eligible to apply for residencies at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. Among the 2019 grantees are Lauren Halsey, Baseera Khan, Daniel Lind-Ramos, Kate Newby, and Young Min Moon.

“The Painters & Sculptors Grants are a cornerstone of our work at the foundation,” said Christa Blatchford, the foundation’s CEO. “The program fills what we see as an ongoing gap in arts philanthropy—the scarcity of direct support to artists for them to continue their practices, to try new things, and to take risks. While the art market is strong, and public sentiment about ‘art’ remains enthusiastic, the opportunities for financial support for artists themselves continue to be limited. We know, from talking to and working with artists for more than two decades, that providing unrestricted funding is necessary and essential.”

Since the grant program launched over twenty-six years ago, the foundation has supported more than five hundred artists at varying stages of their careers. To be eligible for a grant, artists must be nominated by fellow artists and arts professionals selected from throughout the United States. The nominated artists are then invited to submit applications. Grant recipients are chosen through a multiphase jurying process and are typically individuals who have contributed to important artistic and cultural discourse and who deserve greater recognition on a national level.

The 2019 grant recipients are:

Anila Quayyum Agha, Indianapolis, Indiana

Morehshin Allahyari, Brooklyn, New York

Candida Alvarez, Chicago, Illinois

Frida Baranek, Coral Gables, Florida

Debra Baxter, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Keren Benbenisty, New York, New York

Paul Stephen Benjamin, Atlanta, Georgia

Juan William Chávez, Saint Louis, Missouri

Jamal Cyrus, Houston, Texas

Patricia Fernández Carcedo, Los Angeles, California

Lauren Halsey, Los Angeles, California

Andrea Heimer, Ferndale, Washington

Suzanne Jackson, Savannah, Georgia

Baseera Khan, Brooklyn, New York

Arghavan Khosravi, Natick, Massachusetts

Candice Lin, Altadena, California

Daniel Lind-Ramos, Loíza, Puerto Rico

Cannupa Hanska Luger, Glorieta, New Mexico

Gabriel Martinez, Houston, Texas

Wardell Milan, New York, New York

Young Min Moon, Amherst, Massachusetts

Kate Newby, Brooklyn, New York

Shikeith, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Salman Toor, New York, New York

Lien Truong, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

 

To view the full post please visit Artforum.

For more information about Kate Newby please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Georgia Dickie Featured on Canadian Art

September 21, 2019

Georgia Dickie’s upcoming solo exhibition Agouti Sky at Oakville Galleries is featured on Canadian Art.

For Agouti Sky, artist Georgia Dickie has brought a host of objects off the street and into the gallery. Staging, grouping, balancing, and placing are a primary focus of this artist’s practice, activities that makes her presence integral to the presentation of the work.

The installations of Toronto-based artist Georgia Dickie are composed from an ever-growing collection of found objects that she accrues in her studio. She selects and positions these according to an ulterior logic that eschews the values and meanings we usually assign to things. Staging, grouping, balancing, and placing are a primary focus of this artist’s practice, activities that makes her presence integral to the presentation of the work.

Agouti Sky is a solo exhibition of new work by Dickie that transforms Oakville Galleries at Centennial Square into a landscape of sorts, made up of the bric-a-brac refuse of a society built to consume and discard. Dickie plucks objects—a lampshade, a satellite, boxing gloves, metal stands, baseball caps, tills, a pair of shoes, two carved wooden birds—out of this circuit, and sets them into new constellations. She rarely alters them, choosing instead to present them as they are, either singled out for individual attention or swept into a larger ecology of forms.

Dickie’s objects are often dismantled at the end of an exhibition and then repurposed at a later date. This lends her installations a sense of material transformation that raises questions about a work’s beginning and end. With Agouti Sky, as with each of Dickie’s exhibitions, a new set of relations comes into view—the work coheres momentarily and then passes into other forms.

To view the full article please visit Canadian Art.

For more information about Georgia Dickie please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

 

Sara Cwynar featured on Flash Art

September 20, 2019

Sara Cwynar’s exhibition at Blitz in Valletta, Malta is featured on Flash Art.

 

 

“My mission is to spark joy in the world through tidying,” says a smiling Marie Kondo — the pop-culture tidying guru whose mission is to get rid of all negative things — in the trailer for the show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Her method of decluttering involves asking whether a given object sparks joy; if not, it should be discarded. Out of sight, out of mind. Landfills around the world are overflowing with things that don’t spark enough joy and don’t fulfill our expectations for a “good life,” to put it in the words of Lauren Berlant. Indeed, in her pivotal essay Cruel Optimism (Duke University Press, North Carolina 2011), Berlant reveals the injurious attachments we have formed to fantasies of the good life that are no longer sustainable in the present.

Titled “Good Life,” Sara Cwynar’s exhibition at Blitz in Valletta, Malta, unpacks this ideal, dismantling stereotypes under the hegemonic nature of images. The exhibition surveys her practice since 2013, showing Cwynar’s multifaceted approach to the languages of photography, collage, and filmmaking. Found objects and images play a vital role in her compositions, which suggest modern trompe-l’oeils. Her prints, from Toucan in Nature (post it notes) (2013) to A Rococo Base (2018), are a result of a process of re-photographing printed images, on which found objects, transparencies, and archival images are superimposed. The tension between two and three dimensions is tangible. These multilayered pictures, which combine elements of photography, sculpture, and collage, reveal their fictional status to the viewer and “tackle the critical concept of visual truth” (to quote Dolfi Agostini in her curatorial essay).

But it is in video that Cwynar perfectly reflects the iconic bombardment to which we are subjected every day. Exploring the notion of standardization, she shows what it means and how it influences our user experience. In Cover Girl (2018) she examines how standards of beauty are imposed on women, intertwining images of Tracy (a model and friend of the artist) with footage of a make-up company. Her first video work, Soft Film (2016), addresses the “soft misogyny” that dominated the news at the time she was making it. Here, an overlapping voice-over presents a taxonomy of personal objects.

Cleanfluencers, lifestyle masters, and fitness gurus are retooling our cognitive biases, stuffing our Instagram feeds with yoga exercises, healthy food, and clever ways of cleaning the closet. This unending display of living life to its fullest is meanwhile tainting our notion of reality. In this sense, Cwynar’s exhibition offers itself as a keen inquiry on the economy of images and their circulatory power. Red Rose (2017), Magenta Rose (2017), and Pink Rose (2017) are three macro photographs of roses with perfect colors — so perfect they seem artificial. Today, as Steven Shaviro has observed, “the opposition between reality-based and image-based modes of presentation breaks down, and the most intense and vivid reality is precisely the reality of images” (Post-Cinematic Affect, O Books, 2010). Are Cwynar’s roses real or synthetic? The answer is that it doesn’t matter in an era of simulation.

 

To view the full article please visit Flash Art.

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

ektor garcia featured in Artforum

September 18, 2019

ektor garcia is featured on Artforum.

ektor garcia’s work traverses the psychological and the political, quietly contending with the ways in which power structures invade the most intimate spaces of the self. Incorporating ancient craft techniques, found artifacts of personal significance, and allusions to Mesoamerican myths, his sculptures and installations might appear to retreat into the past or emerge from a solipsistic inner world. But through gestures that summon ancestral memory and systems of belief, he materializes a search for belonging in the present and in the liminal spaces between different cultural identities. Even centuries after the first points of contact, colonial forces and hegemonic frameworks of thought continue to inscribe lived reality, and garcia’s practice probes the internalization of this violence. In his hands—wielding needles that can pierce or mend with care and turn bound fibers into diaphanous woven cloth—personal narratives of survival and healing never resolve, but instead transform implements of pain and repair into sources of pleasure and the means by which to conceive new, itinerant futures.

Like the lowercasing of his name, garcia’s art possesses a transgressive humility and embraces improvised play and mutability, largely in response to his past and in accordance with the way he exists in the world. The artist grew up moving between Northern Mexico and California, where his parents worked as migrant farmers; he identifies as an individual with an unfixed sensibility. In his words, “If I must identify myself, I am a queer Chicanx world citizen, belonging somewhere else.” In bozales (muzzles), 2015—an assemblage of plastic, steel, and leather dog muzzles—garcia draws on his haunting memories of crossing the border as a child, but as in many of his works, the reconfiguration of materials and references suggests displacement, constraint, and yet a sense of agency. Like his nomadic practicebased for now in New York and central Mexico, but frequently moving from place to place when he is offered employment—the elements garcia uses to create his sculpturescan migrate endlessly to become parts of new pieces. He conceives his art to remain unfinished; when a work is acquired, he considers it “on pause.” A sculpture might in one installation be scattered across the floor and in another aggregate through impromptu vignettes with added objects, based on a particular space and the artist’s intuitive “internal matrix.”

Following an improvised set of conditions, garcia constructs environments in which something uncontrolled might develop. These installations are inhabited by materials that behave in ways they aren’t meant to, and objects that accumulate new and multiple meanings. Delicate ceramic links are pieced together to resemble rugged metal chains in works like cadena perpetua II (life imprisonment II), 2018. For matanza (slaughter), 2012, skeins of flayed animal hides are tenderly hand-sewn into a leather wall hanging that evokes an empty body bag and references the Aztec god of both war and agriculture, Xipe Totec. garcia transforms raw goatskin into patchwork rugs like luna llena (full moon), 2016, which recall antiques stores and street markets he visits in Mexico, “‘ranch homes’ as an aesthetic,” and “rustic country whitewashed cowboy paraphernalia.” Meat hooks both threaten and connect (as in más o menos [more or less]), 2016; spools of copper wire are perpetually crocheted into lace. His formal collisions suggest the seemingly contradictory qualities of fragility and strength, of bondage and machismo as expressed through “feminine craft.” He reframes now-ubiquitous decorative objects as symbols of class, the appropriation of vernacular culture, and violence against nature, discreetly relaying a critique of a binary, hierarchical worldview that intersects with his own family history.

Refraining from what artist Aria Dean has aptly called “cannibalizing biography,” garcia evokes the personal by leaving almost imperceptible imprints of a body, often his own, on the work and by incorporating symbolic threads that resist the legibility of narrative. The sense of an unseen hand propels his rigorous labors of sewing, weaving, and welding, all possessed of the vitality of the indigenous traditions that endure in Michoacán and Zacatecas, Mexico, where his family lived for generations. The hand-mottled figurine in mitla, 2018; the crocheted workman’s glove in manos a la obra (let’s do it), 2016: Such works give shape to unseen bodies—often erased from historical narratives—and their obscured subjectivities. In mitla, titled after the important spiritual site in Oaxaca (and also the Zapotec word for “underworld”), the pinched ceramic statuette abstracts human form to mere signifier, while a shimmering glaze of metallic palladium renders it an object of devotion. In manos a la obra, garcia’s meticulous threadwork foregrounds the manual labor that produced the empty glove, its wearer unknown. Such motifs of resolute absence and presence recur, pointing to the invisibility of systems that render individuals as well as entire cultures as such.

Although garcia gleaned many of his material processes from watching members of his family and community perform them, he gained his knowledge of the work of the Zapotec, Aztec, Olmec, Maya, and other indigenous Mesoamerican civilizations through research, exploring his relationship to histories that remain only partially intact, and art that is popularly presented as archaeological remains. Wrestling with how these histories (largely fragmented due to colonization) and the related systemic issues manifest in his private and psychic life, the artist turns to tactility, surface, and structure to register not only the feeling of what is missing or has been undone, but also that of what can be reclaimed. This might seem to imbue his sculptures with a sense of loss, but it reveals too how disappearance—as an artistic strategy—can disrupt; this affect is captured in the title of his 2018 show at Mary Mary in Glasgow, “deshacer, or: to undo.”

Like the lowercasing of his name, garcia’s art possesses a transgressive humility and embraces improvised play and mutability, largely in response to his past and in accordance with the way he exists in the world.
Take desmadre, 2016, the title of which translates as “chaos” or “mess,” and which comprises an array of found and made objects including a round crocheted rug of wool and horsehair; a bespoke copper wheel; pieces of glass; a roughly carved totemic pipe with air punctures suggesting eyes; and various smaller pipes, bracelets, and other items. All are dispersed along the perimeter of the gallery space, calling to mind a street merchant sale or roadside memorial and giving the installation a sense of vulnerability. While works like this one offer oblique connections to garcia’s childhood memories of economic instability, they also summon intimate images of familial love and community: his grandmother making clothes and doilies in her Tabasco home, either to sell or for her children to wear; vendors hawking vessels made of palm, ceramic, and natural fibers, crafted using techniques that have been passed down through generations. garcia reasserts these modes of making as noble and valid forms of nonhierarchical production and economic exchange.
In another body of work, “portales” (portals), which he began making in 2017, the artist faithfully re-creates centuries-old stitch patterns—frequently used in Mexico, if not entirely indigenous to it—to build a series of woven-fiber and copper screens that conjure other temporal registers_. _These thresholds form a permeable architecture, occasionally adorned with relics of control and pain that double as ancestral apparitions: a metal spur found on the small Zacatecas ranch where his family lived; a self-flagellation rope, studded with small nails, of a kind frequently sold outside Catholic churches in rural Mexico. garcia’s allusions to pain are sometimes read alongside his use of leather and latex as formal nods to s/m sexual practices. “I often use materials which reference violence, sensuality, and the body,” he explains. “Intriguingly, white art audiences and viewers have often mistakenly taken the presence of these signifiers as literal, or to reflect a certain ‘kinky’ sensibility.” While noting the importance of sexual subcultures in society at large, garcia is more interested in addressing how inversions of power can devolve into pastiche or fashion. In his sculpture yes, yes, yes, thank you, thank you, thank you, 2018, chains coil into holes for arms and a head, echoing a stylized replica of colonial American stockades that garcia once saw at the Laird, a gay bar in Melbourne.

His use of organic latex in works such as figura (figure), 2019, pays homage to the sculptures of Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois in their associations with the natural world and particularly as visceral indexes of grief. “The subject of pain is the business I am in,” Bourgeois wrote in 1991 in the catalogue for the Carnegie International in which she debuted “Cells,” a series of architectural installations she produced until 2010. “When does the emotional become physical? When does the physical become emotional: It’s a circle going around and around.” garcia’s work offers a similarly complex psychological landscape, reflecting a belief that one’s inner life is not an imaginary realm, something apart from the rest of the world, but is a kind of material. He views weaving as a meditative practice that allows him to process emotional injuries that are intimately entangled with broader power dynamics. “Emotionality is political,” says garcia, based on the fact that some are granted the right to live and love as they want, to know and understand their own history, and others aren’t. In corpus, 2018, eroded half orbs of glazed ceramic and vegetable fiber are varyingly stitched together with fine copper wire, with needles haphazardly abandoned mid-stitch and holes gaping around the filament; these details of the work bring to mind the sutured peels of Zoe Leonard’s Strange Fruit, 1992–97, and the notorious image of David Wojnarowicz’s lips sewn shut, as well as his Untitled (Bread Sculpture), 1988–89, for which he reconnected two halves of a loaf of bread with loose red thread. How does one repair what is broken, what has been taken, what is now gone? Although garcia’s work does not address the hiv/aids crisis of the ’80s and ’90s, or what it means to grieve and move forward during an epidemic, there is a crucial kinship in his understanding that life is fragile and must be protected, must find resilience, by being given dignity and care.

He conceives his art to remain unfinished; when a work is acquired, he considers it “on pause.”
In la mano del Xipe Totec (the hand of Xipe Totec), 2016, garcia again cites the deity of death and rebirth, as well as of liberation, disease, and spring, often depicted in codices with his right arm raised and wearing a flayed human skin. garcia’s sculpture presents a large ceramic arm extended upward; its hand has been given a bronze-like patina but is glazed from the wrist down in white as if wrapped in a second skin. It sits atop a shoeshine stool, an antique purchased from a vendor at the Lagunilla market in Mexico City, which points to the often unseen and underappreciated labor performed on the streets. A scrap of leather in the shape of an arm rests at the stool’s feet—a reference to the ersatz skin of a sacrificial victim that was worn as a costume by participants in ceremonies held to honor the deity and bring a good harvest. If not directly spiritual or linked to mysticism, garcia’s practice, throughout all of his work, engages in the forms of ritual to render visible the largely forgotten or undervalued belief systems and stores of knowledge that have impressed themselves upon him regardless, both viscerally and intellectually. With his invocation of mythologies, garcia reminds us of the impossibility of fully understanding our paradoxical universe—one that is at once menacing and nurturing—and of the imperative to locate ourselves in it nonetheless.

To view the full article please visit Artforum.

For more information about ektor garcia please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Sara Cwynar featured in Architectural Digest

September 18, 2019

Sara Cwynar acquired by Charli XCX and featured in Architectural Digest celebrity homes.

The U.K.-born music sensation filled her 1927 Tudor-inspired home with “pop-tastic” personal flair.

Charli XCX reclines in the reading nook in one of the kitchen windows, which is decorated with candles and multipatterned cushions. Two of her three housemates (both childhood chums from the U.K.) have stopped into the sun-soaked room to see the singer—whose third studio album, Charli, was released this month.

The English-born music sensation has inhabited this charactered manse since she relocated from London to L.A. in 2015. She has since decorated its three floors (and four bedrooms) with bold-colored furnishings—and close friends. “I feel like it’s the people in your home that make it a home,” she says. “The house feels very full and lively, so we get to meet a lot of other creative people just through the house. I really enjoy that, and I think that’s part of the reason why the house is what it is.”

The retro residence is Tudor-influenced, featuring details like dark-wood beams and diamond-shaped windows—a warm and welcome sense of the U.K. on the West Coast. “It’s funny that I moved across the world and still ended up in an archetype of a British house,” she comments. “I liked that this was an old place and immediately loved it. I love the dark wood. I love that it’s a little creepy and weird. It just felt really right for me.”

The house is located in the city’s Beachwood area, which is just south of the Hollywood sign, once, the “Hollywoodland” sign). This historic stretch is home to the gated communities that started construction in 1923—the former Hollywoodland. “This house is pretty old for L.A.,” she says. “It was built in 1927, and I think it was one of the original Hollywoodland houses.”

The interiors are bohemian and multicolored, and the bulk of the furniture has been collected from secondhand sources (including Chairish and stores like Nick Metropolis and This Is Not Ikea). This has resulted in a charmingly mismatched selection of fabrics and materials. “It’s quite jumbly, where I got the stuff from—I do love antiques stores,” she says.” There have been estate sales that I’ve gone to in Palm Springs, which are particularly good. Palm Springs is where all the amazing older gay men with great taste move to—and I just want everything they have!”

Charli XCX is currently focused on her art collection (her first piece was a photograph by Heji Shin). “I watched this documentary about Daniel Johnston and got two drawings from his website,” she recalls. “I just bought this piece by Sara Cwynar, who’s a collage artist. The other day, I bought two sculptures by this artist called Seth Bogart. He made a collection of 100 ceramic toothbrushes and they’re really fun. I bought one that’s a cigarette and a toothbrush.”

The house is also scattered with candles—“Some of them I get from the dollar store, but there are some bougie ones upstairs”—and with memories. Charli XCX has lived (and lived it up) here: “I use my house for everything. We work here and we do shoots,” she says, looking around the space. “We throw a lot of parties here—well, we used to throw more parties. I just like the house to feel busy; I like that this house has just seen a lot of stories and fun things happen.”

To view the full article please visit Architecture Digest. 

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Shawn Kuruneru Featured on Highsnobiety

September 13, 2019

Shawn Kuruneru’s recent collaboration with CELINE is featured on Highsnobiety.

 

After releasing the first round of its Fall/Winter 2019 artist collaborations back in July, pieces from Celine’s Shawn Kuruneru collaboration have started to make their way online.

For his first official collaboration with the French House, the Canadian artist lends work from his ongoing series of shape paintings. Inspired by Chinese calligraphy, Western comics, and geometric abstraction, Kuruneru creates a series of abstract paintings that adorn sneakers, a denim jacket, a T-shirt and matching crewneck. His designs also feature on a series of leather accessories and a phone case.

“I want the paintings to read from a distance as bold and graphic, but reveal subtle details the closer you get,” Kuruneru explains. “The longer you spend in front of the works the more the nuances of the material and brush marks show the intrinsic history of the painting.”

Though he’s best-known as a painter, for Kuruneru, drawing is the center of his art practice. “Everything I paint comes from my desire to draw,” he says.

When he begins painting, Kuruneru describes his working process as intuitive. “It starts with quick loose gestures that develop into slow precise marks. I give a lot of attention to the spaces in-between the shapes,” he explains. “There is a sense of tension and release when the shapes almost overlap but don’t, like two bodies about to hit each other but stop on impact. In the most recent works, I consider the black shapes as shadows for invisible shapes that form and dissolve at the same time.”

To view the full article please visit Highsnobiety.

For more information about Shawn Kuruneru please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

ektor garcia featured in Artlyst

September 11, 2019

ektor garcia is featured in Virginie Puerlotas-Syn’s summer art chronicles on Artlyst.

 

Later in July, in another beautiful part of Europe, I attended the opening of Progetto, a newly-opened Artspace in the Baroque city of Lecce, Italy. The New York artist Jamie Sneider raised over US$16,000 on Kickstarter and decided to open a 2,300 square feet residency/ exhibition space in a historical building from the 16th century in an ancient Jewish palazzo. Ektor Garcia from Mexico and New York was the first artist-in-residence. Garcia spent a month’s residency in Puglia and put together a stunning yet delicate show “ Fortaleza”. He bridges the Mexican and Pugliese tradition of ceramics and textiles. Garcia’s copper crocheted sculptures seem to reflect the labyrinth of his thoughts and meditations, following him from one city (he started making them in New York) to another, Lecce. He explored different materials such as the clay from Grottaglie, a ceramic village, to make fragile and metaphorical terracotta sculptures like his piece, Cadena Perpetua II: clay chains, an oxymoron, fragile yet full of strength.

To view the full article please visit Artlyst.

For more information about ektor garcia please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Sara Cwynar Featured on Ssense

September 11, 2019

Six Portraits by the Artist Featuring Tracy Ma and Miu Miu’s FW19 Collection on Ssense

In a gorgeously musing and meandering essay published last year, titled
“Should Artists Shop or Stop Shopping?” the writer Sheila Heti considers the work of artist Sara Cwynar, whose photography and films examine themes surrounding—among other things—beauty, advertising, the recent past, visual bias, desuetude. Heti holds, while accounting for and scrutinizing her own consumer habits, that shopping and writing are mutually related. Both require the act of selection. Both are expressions of the self. Both are creative, though shopping liquidates Heti’s creative energy, leaving her anxious, excitable yet prone to dread. Both play into desire as a state which is achieved so long as it isn’t exactly served. Both involve deciding on the best thing: “Shopping is choosing the best thing. Writing is choosing the best thing (the thing to write about, and the best way of writing it).”

Heti inquires: does Cwynar experience shopping as a writer might experience writing, or does she experience shopping as a writer might experience shopping? Or is there, Heti wonders, some other third thing? “What would it feel like to be like Sara Cwynar; to every day buy a postcard of the Twin Towers on eBay?” She continues: “Sara Cwynar looks for what there is to buy, but the meanings of the objects for sale—their meanings are entirely hers.”

Value comes from how Cwynar sees and systemizes, and sticks tape on the corners of large scale print-outs. Bouquets of objects in full bloom. Clocks and ring boxes. Dish gloves, dice. A rose carefully propped against a green background. A hand carefully adjusting a phone case or placing a sea shell beside a pink razor, knitting needles, and other shapes. A red boot, Nefertiti’s bust, promotional pencils, plastic grapes, paperclips, expired pills. Altar-like color-stories erected with faded Melamine and homewares, or even, how a simple bar of soap bargains with and implicates the worth of a particular shade of blue—all of these choices create the phenomenon of attraction. They petition from the viewer a little game of longing. Of wanting just one taste. “Delicious” is how Heti describes Cwynar’s films.

It’s worth noting the parallels between this feeling and what we, as consumers, derive from shopping online. How we scroll past a purple sweater and now, suddenly, we are stricken by the need to own that purple sweater. How we fill our cart with the purple sweater and the pink Nikes, and the pair of freshwater pearl earrings, and then we get carried away and add the handsome loafers and deliberate on the bag that’s shaped like a ball. And yet, we rarely proceed to checkout.

This e-comm universe of mass reluctance similarly absorbs Cwynar. In a triptych titled, 141 Pictures of Sophie, 1, 2, and 3(2019), Cwynar photographs a model named Sophie, (who regularly models for SSENSE), in various configurations, mimicking the e-comm studio’s “views.” Different angles, same girl. Cwynar then collages her photograph of Sophie with stratified images of Sophie taken from the SSENSE site. The juxtaposition is surreal and somehow sincere in its unaffected redundancy. The staid quality of the e-commerce model, styled in luxury products, becomes all at once flattened and dynamic.

“The photographs force us to confront ostensibly ordinary images, highlighting the disjuncture between Sophie depicted in the studio and her sleeker digital twin,” notes a review in The Nation of Cwynar’s first East Coast solo exhibit currently showing at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. “A homage to the Photoshop proletariat, the piece hints at the labor that goes into making SSENSE Sophie, who has far dewier skin and much brighter crimson hair than the real, nondigitized Sophie.”

Comparison is, after all, essential to Cwynar’s project—a sort of holy mess is at play. Collapse as a tool for linking what is considered obsolete (over time) with what disappears (in a flash): trend cycles, chromatic design, beauty standards, optimism. Appraisal, accrual, and how value can be reframed; these are the topics that focus Cwynar’s work. Be it a compilation-wallpaper titled 72 Pictures of Modern Paintings, where fragmented Picasso paintings (and Modigliani, Pollock, and Lichtenstein) become decorative art. Or her current work for the MoMA, wherein Cwynar was invited by the museum as it prepares for its opening in October, to create a series of videos. She describes her project as loosely inspired by John Berger’s seminal 1970s video series Ways of Seeing, though updated to feature social media, contemporary feminism, the #MeToo movement, and technology.

Here, in an exclusive editorial and interview for SSENSE, Cwynar photographs Miu Miu’s FW19 collection with her friend and muse, Tracy Ma. We talk to Cwynar about shopping habits, self-portraiture, and applying logic to beauty.

Durga Chew-Bose

Sara Cwynar

Growing up, what did your house look like?

I was born in Vancouver but I only lived there until I was 5. Then we moved to Ottawa. In Vancouver, we lived in this big, classic suburban house. I remember thick rugs. Like gross carpeting from the 80s. I lived in a room with a sloping ceiling that felt claustrophobic and I shared a hallway with my twin sister. It was a strange house—the living room was triangular-shaped. I remember a lot of dark wood—it was kind of scary. I would have these crazy dreams where I’d see an alligator standing in the corner of rooms. The most notable thing about our Ottawa house was that I painted my bedroom purple and mint green.

Have you always been drawn to colors, contrasting colors, colors as they collide with memory?

I had an orange puffy coat when I was 10 that I always wore. I was also a figure skater, so I had a lot of crazy-colorful costumes and make-up.

Did you make your own costumes?

My mom mostly did. She’s really amazing at sewing and would make her own clothes in the 70s. Making figure skating costumes is really difficult—it requires a lot of minute handwork, like sewing individual rhinestones.

What was your favorite skating routine?

I had a pretty sweet Phantom of the Opera one. I wore a black and white costume which I thought was very sophisticated at the time. I started with my hand over my face, and then I revealed my face—that was the first move in the program.

There’s an element of your art that could easily be characterized as nostalgic, especially because of all the cultural iconography in your work. I’m curious about the images from your childhood, be it food labels in your kitchen pantry or the opening credits to your favorite TV show.

It’s funny, because in a lot of my work, I’m thinking about a history I wasn’t really present for, or one that just preceded me, or was happening when I was too young to be really cognizant of it. There’s something about looking back at what you weren’t a part of, that makes you feel like you can see it more clearly. I really remember the definitive media moments, like Tonya Harding or Saved by the Bell getting interrupted for O.J. Simpson in the white Bronco. These moments when scandalous celebrity misadventures were so spectacular that everything had to get interrupted.

Reminds me a lot of Gus Van Sant’s To Die For.

Yeah! Yeah! It was also the last era where everything came from one place. Everyone was watching the same TV, at least in a North American context. Everyone had the same references. Now, things have exploded—it’s no longer possible.

Because I was just revisiting Sheila Heti’s piece about your work, I was hoping we might talk about your shopping habits. What was your last eBay purchase?

It was a Benetton, big blue t-shirt from the 80s. I really like Benetton because they teamed up with lots of companies in that era: the Olympics, and Euro-Disney merch, and they made weird golf clothing. I find it charming.

Did you buy it for yourself? Or for a piece of your work?

For myself. For my work, I’ve been buying these pictures of women wrestling. But someone started outbidding me! I think the buyer has someone else bidding against me, so that the prices go up hundreds of dollars for these snapshots of women in a wrestling league in the 80s. I really love them, and I really need them for my art, but it’s getting to the point where they’re too expensive! The last one I got has really amazing colors, but now I’ve cut myself off.

What was the last souvenir you bought when travelling?

I went to this town in Puglia called Grottaglie. It’s kind of like the ceramics capital of Southern Italy. And I bought this ceramic doll with a mustache called “The Bearded Bride of Grottaglie.” The fable associated with it is kind of gruesome but triumphant.

What was the last thing you bought at the grocery store?

A 12-pack of Bud Lite.

Last bag of chips that you bought?

Sour cream and onion Lay’s. That’s my favorite.

What was the last thing you bought at the pharmacy?

Pantene Pro-V conditioner.

And what about something from the pharmacy that was meant for your art?

I bought some gold thumbtacks the other day.

The last book that you bought?

Jia Tolentino’s book. I read the whole thing in one day because I loved it so much.

What was the last thing you stole?

A yellow-and-white plastic shopping bag that says “Cintra Centre” on it in a kind of circular ‘70s lettering. It’s now stuck on my fridge. I also stole a lot of pens from the Banff Centre.

What other photos or objects are you collecting for your work?

I’ve actually been looking a lot at SSENSE’s styling and seeing how the clothes are photographed in a very structured way. I really like looking for variations. I’m also looking through all of MoMA’s archives—what has been shown over and over again and what hasn’t been shown. And then how MoMA tells us who we think we are or what our history is, in ways that are heavily biased but also totally arbitrary. Why was some art shown and some other art never shown? There are many reasons, but often it’s because the artist was a woman—you know, the very white male history of art. It’s been a real education for me. I have a graphic design degree, I don’t have an art history degree.

What materials or objects are you working with these days?

I’m trying to use fewer things as a challenge to myself.

How’s that going?

It’s not going so well. I’m trying to not rely on how cool or satisfying or surprising objects from a recent past can look, and figure out a way to work with contemporary materials. It’s hard. For example, I just filmed in a pantyhose factory in Italy. I’ve been collecting and photographing a lot of pantyhose, which are such amazing-looking objects. They are infinitely satisfying to photograph. I’m also still photographing roses.

Do the still life components of your work feel like a form of self-portraiture?

Totally. It’s a way of taking everything I want and putting it one place. There’s also a lot of retouching and manipulation, and using different cameras to make things look how I wished they looked—there’s definitely something biographical and personal happening there.

In what ways is your art a documentation of trends?

I’m so obsessed with recent histories because they show how everything that we think is new is actually just things repeating. Novelty isn’t really novelty at all, it’s just something old that we’re excited to accept. The first person who does something is never the person who gets somewhere with it. That’s kind of how fashion works, too. It’s comforting and infinitely satisfying to watch things come back again and again. But there are some things I can never figure out. One of them is: why do I like old things? Trying to answer that question has been really motivating and generative. Or why some things return, and look good again. I’m always trying to figure that out by re-showing them or combining them, staring at them, photographing them. It’s really important for the way that we experience the world now, because we’re inundated with trends and new things to look at, to choose from, to decide about. It really has a psychological effect. Nobody can really explain, in a good way, why we like what we do.

But fully knowing why we like what we like…would kind of kill why we like it.

Totally. It’s the same thing as, if you actually get the thing, it’s ruined.

Desire!

Yeah!

Your fascination with e-comm photography. Let’s talk about that.

I find it so delightful to look at SSENSE when a bunch of new stuff has just rolled out. I like looking at the way actual human women are used as mannequins on e-comm. It makes you realize how much you project onto people when you know nothing about them. It’s a great illustration for how people use clothes to communicate, or as armor, or as identity. Looking at the same person in dramatically different outfits over and over again, there’s an element of the uncanny.

Speaking of models, Tracy Ma has now modeled for you numerous times, including this Miu Miu editorial. Would you call her your muse?

I find that word really funny but it’s accurate. It’s rare to find a true muse and that’s what Tracy is—I think about how things will look on her, and everything she does is exactly what I want.

It’s intuitive.

We both come from Canada, we’re both graphic designers, we both worked for magazines when we were pretty young, we both have an intimate knowledge of how pictures get made and how women get pictured, and how people see us as women in the world. She has this irony to the way she poses but also a vulnerability that is exactly how I feel about getting looked at and having my picture taken. She really understands what it means to have her picture in the world.

In terms of trends, there’s a whole industry now for color forecasting. Do you believe in it? Do you think we’re overthinking it?

The second one. I kind of think it’s bullshit. Like many things it feels like a logic being applied later. I think it’s part of how color is being used to sell you something you already have, but in another version.

It’s true. Everything I have in black, I want it in purple.

You need everything in a more regal color!

Is there a color that when you wear it, people say it really suits you?

Cerulean blue. I have a bunch of really bright blue suits that I wear all the time.

In your photography, is there any color you’re completely averse to?

Well…actually…I really don’t like purple.

[Laughs]

If I see someone wearing purple, that’s totally different than trying to photograph purple.

Why is purple tough to photograph?

I don’t think it reproduces well. It absorbs a lot of light and it would always be more satisfying if it was blue. That’s totally subjective of course! But I’m looking at a lot of prints I have on my walls right now and there’s not a single bit of purple in any of them.

Do you think there’s an element of misunderstanding or dismissal when your photographs are described as beautiful?

If you’re an artist, you have to be okay with the fact that not everyone is going to be able to know how much thought and energy, and research has been poured into [your work]. It can be a weird process of letting go of a certain amount of pride. When you put something out in the world, people might read it in a much simpler way than you intended. Often, people receive the work in much more complex ways than I intended. I definitely know that people write off my work because it’s so aesthetically pleasing, but I think that’s part of the content. It’s always been important for me to make things that are accessible, that have values other than didactic art theory values, and can be pleasurable on other terms. I’m still committed to making things as aesthetically pleasing as possible for that reason. That’s why I started making videos because I think it’s a medium that can speak to wider audiences. Using beauty has a real function—I think things have a logic when they’re beautiful. They sort of justify themselves.

To view the full article please visit Ssense.

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Vikky Alexander is Reviewed in Critics At Large

September 7, 2019

Vikky Alexander’s solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery is reviewed by Donald Brackett in Critic At Large.

Vikky Alexander: Extreme Beauty runs July 6 – January 26, 2020 at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The catalogue/book of this show is well worth ordering from the VAG.

Coming of age in the heady photo-conceptualist decade of the 1980s, Vikky Alexander quickly ascended to the upper ranks of the most visually challenging and thought-provoking Canadian contemporary artists. Becoming well known for her insightful investigations of the found and appropriated image, the artificial representation of enclosed nature and the cultural seduction of both space and place, it was almost as if she was holding up a dark mirror to our beauty-obsessed era and showing us who we were really were beneath the surface of all that bright and shiny glitter.

Irony literally drips off the smooth textures of her multi-panel piece Obsession, from 1983, for instance, with sacred supermodel Christie Brinkley, the ultimate golden uptown girl, standing in as an airbrushed female Saint figure. Peering into a piece of deep blue void such as Between Dreaming and Living, #5, from 1986, subtly reminds us that we can never really be sure if we’re awake or asleep. Which is exactly the way that both mass media and consumer society prefers its customers to be: interstitial, liminal, hovering between hyper-desire and permanently suspended satisfaction.

This exquisitely curated and installed retrospective of more than eighty works, the first for an artist who demands and deserves our full attention, was also cleverly juxtaposed with a concurrent show of the deeply resonating Robert Rauschenberg’s works from 1965-1980. This was the ideal context for situating Alexander’s overall oeuvre, since both artists blurred the boundaries between mediums as they mixed and merged materials and ideas in a daring use of everyday images culled from a popular culture which moved too fast to fully delve into its own messaging.

Extreme Beauty, so strangely similar to the entertainment format of ultimate or extreme fighting, deftly demonstrated how Alexander has cultivated a crisp career montage of images devoted to unraveling the mechanisms of display that shape meaning and desire in our culture. By stripping consumer systems of their mystifying and signifying but largely unconscious strategies, Alexander, like Rauschenberg, encourages us to fully embrace the shimmering intersection between making art and living life. Indeed, both artists astutely interrogated mass media via their skillful use of its own techniques of seriality, repetition, recursion and glitz, all resulting in a profound deconstruction of the flimsy assumptions we choose to live by.

These days, the 1980’s almost feel like another planet, not just another age. Indeed, the provocatively titled Extreme Beauty showcased her multi-faceted examinations of mediated beauty and its cultural consumption as an otherworldy commodity, throughout a surprisingly elastic artistic practice that encompasses photography, sculpture, collage and installation. Her clear-eyed gaze falls upon mall interiors, retail shop windows, model apartment suites, tightly controlled public gardens, and even large scale murals advertising nothing but themselves.

Originally from Victoria British Columbia, a graduate of the experimental hotbed of NASCAD, and a long time resident of Vancouver (she is currently studio-based in Montreal), Alexander’s take on her job description as a cultural artifact producer is as concise as the conceptual brevity contained in her stunning assemblages of media tropes, fashion and advertising enticements. “My job as an artist is to figure out how things work.” Her recapitulations of art historical references can also be succinctly neo-baroque in their surrender to those immersive sensory experiences we all seem to long for.

An artist friend of mine (a filmmaker who uses found/appropriated footage in his recreations) recently asked me a tongue in cheek rhetorical question, “When is appropriation appropriate?” So much captivating artwork demonstrates how a well-intentioned study of our image addictions can provide answers visually rather than verbally. Appropriation is thus most appropriate when it is creatively utilized by an astute artist in order to aesthetically critique the political or social implications of whatever the image or idea at hand might be: creatively deconstructed via drastic recycling and retelling.

In closing, I’d like to briefly draw the viewers and readers attentions to the fine catalogue produced for this retrospective show at the VAG, and to extol its virtues in a market where often such publications can be pretty coffee table books that collect dust in the basement. This one however is almost a living textbook which helps readers, especially those who might be puzzled by the artistic use of appropriated or found mass media imagery reproduced in their art, come to a contextual understanding of this aesthetic tradition.

The Extreme Beauty show was curated by current Interim Director at the VAG, Daina Augaitis, which is in itself a welcome change from most Directors, who are more often found in swanky boardrooms shaking corporate fundraising hands or bowing before government officials. Her opening essay in particular is an accessible and cogent expression of what Alexander’s work, and the who conceptualist tradition of subverting media power by reusing and reinterpreting the imagery that assails us everyday in endless waves.She starts by asking pertinent questions such as “How do aesthetic traditions get shaped?”, and then proceeds in a highly efficient manner to historically situate Alexander both biographically and artistically. “Throughout her career, has embraced situating her work in the public realm, leading her to place some of her re-photographed images back into the public sphere, including on buses, where she filled areas designated for advertisements with her own semiotic ‘signs’ of captioned TV news, emitting a different type of ‘real life information’, as she refers to it.”

We are invited to reconsider our assumptions by virtue of the eccentricity of the typefaces, the redundant repetition of the word ‘new’ and a visual art experience that cancels itself out with oblique references to an inherent ambiguity about what exactly was new and what precisely was being sold.

The absence of an actual product apart from a meditation on mediation “compels our awareness of the code itself and the economic and aesthetic system in which the sign participates.” What this suggests, for Augaitis, is an endeavour to blur the terrain between art, design and the real world, a hybrid between art and business.

Of uniquely impactful power for me were Alexander’s series of large scale photographs of shiny retail store windows, filled with an array of products but also highly reflective glass which absorbed passersby on the street and turned them into a big part of the commercial display. Augaitis also helpfully positioned four distinct zones of work in Alexander’s long career: appropriation of vernacular imagery to examine how meaning is deployed; the investigation of consumer culture and it’s methods of display and enticement; the representation of architecture as a space containing utopian aspirations; and an abiding interest in nature, how it is represented, how we engage with it, and how we are estranged from it.

Other valuable essays in this book which make it well worth ordering are “Double Takes” by Leah Pires, who seductively asks the deceptively simple but complex question, “What’s behind an image?”. Nancy Tousley’s insightful essay “Allegory and Paradox in Vikky Alexander’s ‘Nature’” powerfully explores the space of the waking dream. Vincent Bonin, in “Beyond the Seduction of Enclosures,” astutely explores Alexander’s interrogation of both extreme beauty notions and the scopophilia of ‘sublime kitsch’ at the collision point between minimal art and popular culture.

In the hands of an experienced image-interrogator such as Vikky Alexander, whose retrospective exhibition took us deep into the territory of our culture’s subliminal obsessions and its fetishistic fixations on the surface of things and people, the results were both revealing, engaging and unnerving. Echoing and embodying the basic premise of Walter Benjamin’s seminal 1936 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” artists such as Alexander have mined the image-archive of popular culture in search of the lost or missing aura that evaporates upon replication and mass transmission.

For conceptual artists such as Alexander, appropriation is thus a brilliant strategy for making us reconsider what we usually take for granted. Beauty, for instance. I do believe she’s figured out “how things work” after all.

– Donald Brackett

 

To view the full article please visit Critics At Large.

For more information about Vikky Alexander please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

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