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

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

Sara Cwynar featured on e-flux

September 5, 2019

Age Of You, group show at Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto features Sara Cwynar and is featured on e-flux.

Age of You is a timely exhibition about how the self has become more extreme, and what it means to be an individual today. Curated by Shumon Basar, Douglas Coupland and Hans Ulrich Obrist, with graphic design by Daly & Lyon, it includes over 70 visual contributors from the worlds of art, design, filmmaking, photography, performance and electronic music. Age of You has been commissioned and produced by MOCA Toronto.

Guess what this century’s most valuable resource is? It’s you—and all your online behaviours, enriched data sets and millions of meta-data points. In this process, a large part of you is extracted from you, and now exists everywhere and nowhere, independently of your five senses. Is this why the inside of your head feels so strange? Are you really built for so much change so quickly? And, what if individuality is, in fact, morphing into something else?

Age of You previews a forthcoming book by Basar/Coupland/Obrist, The Extreme Self, a sequel to their previous title, The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present. Set over two of MOCA’s gallery floors, Age of You presents 13 immersive chapters that chart how individuality is currently changing, emotionally, socially and spiritually. Wry words and slogans by the curators are juxtaposed against portraits sourced from:

Agnieszka Kurant, Amalia Ulman, Amnesia Scanner, Ana Nicolaescu, Ania Soliman, Anna Uddenberg, Anne Imhof, Asad Raza, Barry Doupé, Bogosi Sekhukhuni, Cao Fei, Carsten Höller, Cécile B Evans, Chen Zhou, Christine Sun Kim, Craig Green x Moncler Genius, Dennis Kavelman, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Emmanuel Iduma, Farah Al Qasimi, Fatima Al Qadiri, GCC, Goshka Macuga, Heman Chong, Ian Cheng, Isabel Lewis, Jarvis Cocker, Jenna Sutela, Johannes Paul Raether, John Menick, Jürgen Klauke, Koo Jeong A, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Liam Gillick, Liam Young, Lorraine O’Grady, Lucy Raven, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Michael Stipe, Miles Gertler, Miranda July, Momus, NVIDIA Research, Pamela Rosenkranz, Pan Daijing, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Peter Saville & Yoso Mouri, Philippe Parreno, Pierre Huyghe, Precious Okoyomon, Rachel Rose, Raja’a Khalid, Samuel Fosso, Sara Cwynar, Satoshi Fujiwara, Simon Denny, Sissel Tolaas, Sophia Al-Maria, Stéphanie Saadé, Stephanie Comilang, Suzanne Treister, Tabita Rezaire, Thomas Dozol, Thomas Hirschhorn, Trevor Paglen, Urs Lüthi, Victoria Sin, Wang Haiyang, Yaeji, Yazan Khalili, Yu Honglei, Yuri Pattison.

Interspersed are major works in film, photography, fashion, sculpture and installation, each articulating a salient aspect of the extreme selfThroughout Age of You, visitors will encounter a recurring presence of “the face,” today’s dominant data metric, as well as new ways in which crowds are being composed, computed or even weaponized.

To view the full article please visit e-flux.

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

ektor garcia Featured in tzvetnik

August 31, 2019

ektor garcia’s exhibition Fortaleza at Progetto, Lecce is featured in tzvetnik.

6th day in Italy, first time in this country
Crocheting copper wire purchased and brought from Mexico to New York to Lecce. I make many granny squares.

I began making these copper squares in New York when I agreed to spend a month here in Puglia to work on a solo show at Jamie Sneider’s new Progetto in Lecce. I am slowly but consistently working on joining the squares by sewing them into a copper lace t-shirt.

I crochet everywhere I can, almost daily, especially while traveling. I imagine the people of a village in Mexico who weave straw hats while walking from town to town, they can tell you that the distance from one town to the next is the equivalent of any number of hats woven while walking.

I constantly learn and make new crochet patterns; they become labyrinths I get lost in, only to find myself. A single strand of wire is looped in around itself with the help of a steel hook, becoming an organized network, with occasional mistakes. I embrace them and keep them to break up the monotony.

No two crochet doilies are alike; they are trips I have taken. I unpack them and lay them out to measure and visualize the time and distance from one place to another, from a couple hours, days, months, to years, to the places I have been while making them.

I’m working on new terracotta sculptures, made of local clay from Grottaglie, a ceramic village. I don’t know what I am making but feel the need to coil and press each coil onto itself, rotating each piece, going around and around, just like the movements of crochet.

I made a few large chains that loosely mimic handmade steel chains, but they are made out of soft terracotta. I was thinking how in crochet language a row of stitches is called, a chain. There is a really nice quote from Truman Capote, I see it being about art too, «One day I started writing, not knowing that I had chained myself for life to a noble but merciless master. When God hands you a gift, he also hands you a whip; and the whip is intended for self-flagellation solely.”

I like this idea of chained in language — chained to my past. The clay chains are extremely fragile and not meant to function as chains — they are the opposite of what a chain can do: they can’t hold weight. They are so fragile they can break in your hands, but they are made with care.

The piece ​cadena perpetua II​ means life sentence or endless chain and I feel that’s what my practice is: an endless chain of events, of artworks.

It’s nice to have so much clay at my disposal. It’s a fun challenge to use it all. I like feeling the physical weight of the material in its raw state; when it’s just clay. To know this body of work is 300 kilos of Grottaglie clay.

The works I’ve been making are very organic, coil-built shapes that mimic vessels; some are parts that can be stacked once fired. I didn’t plan anything; I’m letting each piece plan itself.

Some textures are made by the motion of my thumb dragging the clay down. I like that it leaves my thumbprint. The other piece I made today uses pre-Colombian geometric patterns – patterns that are graphic symbols found on the facades of pyramids and in ancient textiles.

At the Castellana Caves I learned that stalactites grow less than 10 cm every thousand years. Stalagmites, which grow from the ground up, take even longer.

The opening is on the 18th of July, and I am sure I will be working until the last minute. Once I’m on the airplane I will begin crocheting my next project, which I don’t know what will be, I like knowing that I will bring the copper back to Mexico.

 

To view the full article please visit tzvetnik.

For more information about ektor garcia please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Zachary Leener and Anders Oinonen Featured on Art Viewer

August 26, 2019

Family Practice, a two-person show featuring Zachary Leener and Anders Oinonen is featured on Art Viewer. 

 

Artists: Zachary Leener, Anders Oinonen

Exhibition title: Family Practice

Venue: COOPER COLE, Toronto, Canada

Date: August 1 – 31, 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 iNews UK

August 26, 2019
Tags: News, Tau Lewis

Yorkshire Sculpture International is featured in iNews UK. 

Dreamy landscapes, horizontal rain, forced rhubarb, stout shoes, strong tea… and sculpture. There’s a new arrival on the list of Yorkshire’s glories. The first Yorkshire Sculpture International – a festival celebrating the art you can love from all angles – launched in Leeds and Wakefield earlier this summer.

As part of its varied exhibition programme, this 3D jamboree anoints one-time bad-boy of Brit art Damien Hirst as the latest in a line of celebrated modern sculptors associated with the region, following in the footsteps of Henry Mooreand Barbara Hepworth. As well as four massive bronzes at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Black Sheep With Golden Horns (2009) floating in formaldehyde amid the Victorian sentimentality at Leeds Art Gallery, two works by Hirst have been installed in the city centre.

The monumental bronze Hymn (1999–2005) – an anatomical study of a male torso – stands in the middle of Leeds’s pedestrianized Briggate shopping street. The red of Hymn’s exposed musculature echoes in the signage of the neighbouring H. Samuel store and a branch of Santander. Nearby, in the city’s beautiful Edwardian shopping arcade, is the white marble Anatomy of an Angel (2008), also part-dissected.

Installed without fanfare, both have gone down a storm. Gangs of sixth-formers photographed one another holding Hymn’s muscular backside or in repose on its plinth, groups stopped to chat and stare. I asked a jeweller looking eagerly through his window in the arcade what he thought of having Anatomy of an Angel on his doorstep: he thought it was wonderful, couldn’t have been happier.

The art world – this critic included – can be a bit arch about Mr Hirst, but there are very few sculptors who elicit this kind of public response. It’s not just celebrity: the works themselves appeal and engage. People were playing with them, gawping at them, fondling them and interacting in an irreverent way not usually permitted in the context of a museum. We can’t help wanting to touch sculpture: particularly not works of art that offer a material illusion (bronze masquerading as plastic masquerading as flesh) as these do.

Hirst is not the whole story. Extending through four institutions as well as public sites, YSI offers sculptures ancient and modern, authored and anonymous, eminent and emerging. Leeds Art Gallery is showing an architectural installation by Ayse Erkmen: the framework of the gallery’s Victorian lantern ceiling, reproduced as a pavilion balanced at floor level. It’s elegant, if a little cool.
On the ground floor, installed in a thickly carpeted room, black and white photographs from Joanna Piotrowska’s Shelter (2016-18) series show adults making refuges and dens out of their possessions, suggesting a human instinct for construction.

A historic exhibition explores wood as a sculptural medium: contemporary and modern works appear alongside ancient and non-Euro American artefacts, suggesting a debt of influence. The display also shines a spotlight on less-seen art from the collection, including a carved relief by the Jamaican-born Modernist sculptor Ronald Moody whose career feels ripe for celebratory re-appraisal.

The adjacent Henry Moore Institute carries five small displays of new work. These include Rashid Johnson’s presentation in shea butter, both carved into crude sculptural forms and presented as piles of raw stuff to be modelled by visitors or massaged into the skin as moisturiser.

Through video and historic displays, Sean Lynch – a reliably engaging artist storyteller – tells the tale of “Flint Jack”, a manufacturer and peddler of arrow and axe-heads, many of which were erroneously purchased for archaeological collections in the nineteenth century.

Never mind Yorkshire: Hepworth Wakefield is one of the best museums anywhere in which to see sculpture, bringing together great architecture and great programming. Their YSI display includes older pieces exploring materials and our relationship with them by Jimmie Durham (a US American artist now dogged by controversy surrounding his claim to Cherokee ancestry, which tribal representatives deny.)

A quieter work by Wolfgang Laib occupies the side-lit adjacent gallery: a grid of rice, arranged in piles, each about the size of a handful, around small, rough stone sculptures. The space smells deliciously of Basmati, and invites meditative calm.

One of the great discoveries of YSI is the young Canadian artist Tau Lewis,whose work using textiles, ceramics, and marine debris occupies two small galleries at the Hepworth. Lewis has gathered clothing – mostly denim – from friends and family as well as her own wardrobe to create floor-based sculptures and a hanging wall piece that propose new legends of the sea.

Octopus, ray, hammerhead shark and jellyfish appear, interspersed with haunting faces, their teeth made of shells and pebbles: hybrid mermen and mermaids with ancestral origins, perhaps, in the devastating transatlantic trade in human bodies.

As well as four mega works by Hirst – including Charity (2002-3) and The Virgin Mother (2005-6) – Yorkshire Sculpture Park is staging the first major British exhibition of work by David Smith, a US American artist associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement. There are hints of Alexander Calder, Eduardo Paolozzi and early work by Giacometti, but Smith developed a sculptural language all his own, painting his welded metal works in bright colours and incorporating shapes inspired by his young daughters.

Smith died in a car accident in 1965, aged 59. Not much of his work is held in European collections, so this show is a rare treat: beautifully installed and full of fascinating insights into his early career. Half a dozen metal sculptures are shown outdoors, notably Untitled (Candida) (1965) which sits on the hilltop above the gallery and frames a view out over the park.

As well as bringing international sculpture to Yorkshire, YSI is supporting work by sculptors in the region, selected for exhibition via an open call. These five associate artists – all female – are showing in the Bothy Gallery at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Highlights of this small display include a series of striking, stained, bodily casts taken from clefts in rock by Rosanne Robertson, and a film and textile piece exploring movements in digital space by Rhian Cooke.

Stationed on the route into Wakefield itself is Huma Bhabha’s Receiver (2019) a sturdy, rough-hewn figure of heroic proportions cast in bronze, which glares ominously over the crossroads at the statue of Queen Victoria. The New York-based artist installed related works on the roof of the Met museum last summer: they suggest both war-torn antiquities and otherworldly totems.
Commissions for YSI have been inspired by artist Phyllida Barlow’s suggestion that “sculpture is the most anthropological of the art forms”.

Rounding off this sculptural study of human behaviour is a commission for the public realm by Tarek Atoui, an artist whose improvised music machines in turn create a sculptural environment from sound.

YSI was proposed, originally, as part of Leeds’s bid for a stint as European City of Culture in 2023. The region had that hope dashed by Brexit, but has defiantly committed to this celebration of sculpture in the face of political uncertainty. The institutions involved have stepped up with a slick and outward-facing celebration of sculpture: it deserves to pull in the crowds.

To view the full article please visit iNews UK. 

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

 

Sara Cwynar Featured in Architectural Digest

August 15, 2019

Sara Cwynar’s solo show at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is featured in Architectural Digest.

Sara Cwynar doesn’t make decoration, but she deftly nods to interior design in her first East Coast solo exhibition, now open at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The Vancouver-born artist—a trained photographer and former designer for the New York Times Magazine—explores trends, commercialism, and the amorphous and ever-changing ideals of beauty. Titled “Sara Cwynar: Gilded Age,” the varied presentation features photographs, film, and a site-specific wallpaper making its first appearance Stateside. The show will be open through Sunday, November 10.

Cwynar’s wallpaper toys with the idea of art as decoration. Sheathing a corner gallery wall, the wallpaper entitled 72 Pictures of Modern Paintings immediately captivates. This expansive decorative work, a first for the artist, is a compilation of famous modern paintings that she digitally manipulated to blend into an almost unrecognizable pattern that’s eerily ornamental until one recognizes a face, or perhaps arm, tucked into the dusty pinks and blues. Sure enough, fragments of 72 works by the likes of Lichtenstein, Picasso, Pollock, and more live amid the chaos. “l wanted to take these art objects that have been given a place of great importance in our culture, mash them together, and turn them into this big decoration to see and whether they’re just beautiful, and whether that makes them valueless,” Cwynar explains. “I think there’s still great value in just being beautiful, but the wallpaper kind of foregrounds the aesthetic components of modern art.” This inquiry is a substantial one: When even the most known artworks can so easily become purely ornamental, what inherently sets a meaningful work apart?

Cwynar investigates the thinness and flexibility of this barrier. Surely these pieces possess artistic value, but why? Viewers are challenged to grapple with this intelligently, as Cwynar smartly avoids the cheekiness that might prompt visceral reactions.

In part, she chose wallpaper as her design medium because even in today’s furniture-as-art moment, wall coverings retain their function as backdrops. Additionally, they remain embedded with associations of a bygone era. Photos of heavily chintzed and wallpapered rooms pass across the desks of designers (and AD editors) often, but such rich interiors are neither mass-market nor the look du jour. “I thought a wallpaper really made sense in this context as a classic bourgeois decorative thing,” she explains. Even today, silk wall coverings or hand-painted wallpapers are markers of luxury. Plus, Cwynar adds, “you don’t see many experimental wallpapers.”

To create the pattern, Cwynar began at the bookshelf, scouring encyclopedias. She picked out the most well-known modern paintings, scanned these reproductions into her computer—stains, spots, and all—and then digitally toyed with the scans in Photoshop. “One thing that’s important to the wallpaper is that you can see the printing dots and textures of the reproductions, so it’s not even about the actual artwork anymore,” Cwynar says. After this digital rearranging, patterns emerged. Trends in the shapes, aesthetics, and depictions of women’s bodies rise to the top of Cwynar’s optics (no doubt due to the era’s most celebrated artists being male).

Though she thinks deeply about trends, Cwynar is not prone to following them in her artistic practice. Citing rose gold accessories and sweatpants as examples, Cwynar investigates the cyclical return of trends, and whether participation in them detracts from the meaning of one’s work—or if it’s inevitable. Who can ever be safe from such influence? The artists in 72 Pictures likely didn’t follow trends consciously, yet their practices bred trends within the global modern art movement. Like decorators who scour archives and museums professionally for inspiration, this isn’t due to a lack of individual perspective as much as proximity and resourcefulness; we are never islands.

When asked if dismantling some of the world’s best-known works was sentimental, Cwynar notes that most viewers interact with reproductions of these pieces already. Andy Warhol’s soup cans, for example, are less likely to be encountered in the flesh than on a stranger’s canvas tote. Ditto a Mondrian composition and a color-block mug at the Met’s gift shop. “It’s about how art gets commodified and recycled into things that can be sold [or] literally placed on something to make it seem like it has a value or an aura,” she says.

“That’s something I think about a lot in my work—how things are changed in meaning and in value after they are touched and understood by other people,” Cwynar adds. “And that’s what trends are too.”

To view the full article please visit Architectural Digest. 

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Sara Cwynar Featured in The Wilton Bulletin

August 8, 2019

Sara Cwynar explores power of imagery at the Aldrich in ‘Gilded Age’.

The walls are talking at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield.

The artworks in the exhibition, “Sara Cwynar: Gilded Age,” are in conversation with each other, examining color, stereotypes and beauty standards harvested from an oversaturation of messages we are bombarded with today. Images of Nefertiti, architectural landmarks, overly bright nail polish bottles and cosmetic samples are repeated and rearranged among various works, in collage-like layered creations that blend photography, installation and bookmaking with historical reference points and themes.

This is the Canadian-born artist’s first East Coast solo exhibition and it is on view through Nov. 10. Cwynar has a background in graphic design and her artistic practice is clearly informed by conceptual art. In “Gilded Age,” she looks at what beauty means, what makes for a “pretty picture” and the power of images in the real and digital worlds.

Curated in conjunction with the artist, the exhibition features a sampling of Cwynar’s color photographs from 2014 to 2019 (including new work); “Kitsch Encyclopedia,” 2014, her first artist book; “Cover Girl,” 2018, a 16mm film on video with sound making its East Coast debut); and “72 Pictures of Modern Paintings,” 2016, a site-specific wallpaper being shown for the first time in the United States.

Combing through a wealth of imagery that runs the gamut from art history to advertising, Cwynar astutely ferrets out the important from the trivial to explore several themes. Color is a prominent theme explored and one that weaves itself throughout her works to open up important dialogues.

“I was thinking about many different ways color is used to create desire or to trick people,” said Cwynar. “For example, I am thinking about which colors film can reproduce and how things that seem totally natural and technical, like what red film can reproduce or how the color of a sky looks or a skin tone, are decided on by technicians with biases.”

“I was also thinking about how certain colors take us back to certain times, and how color can contain meaning and emotion. I also have spent a lot of time researching the way color is used to sell things, especially examples like melamine plastic cups from the ’50s or the rose gold iPhone from 2016 where color was used to sell us something we already owned as if it was something new.”

Bias among image makers, particularly in advertising, is another key theme Cwynar explores, revealing hidden intents and biases in vintage advertising images that she upends. Taking on popular photographic clichés, including the portrait, still life and product images, Cwynar asks important questions about deep-seated stereotypes.

“I really hope viewers come away thinking about the power of images, and the way that even our most benign seeming photographs — for example, an architectural picture in an encyclopedia, or an advertisement of a smiling woman, or a picture of a watch, contain many layers of politics and intention,” she says. “These types of images shape the way we see ourselves and our (Western) culture in ways that we may not be able to recognize all the time. And as they proliferate more and more it becomes even harder to see.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog — the artist’s first — and the cover image is a bright pink rose, which evinces Cwynar’s mastery of consciously layers upon layers of messages in her work. The rose here is a vibrant pink hue and the rose is a quintessential symbol of beauty but roses fade just as beauty fades.

“The roses are some of the only straight or unaltered pictures in the show, and yet somehow they look fake. I was thinking about roses as this sort of unimpeachable symbol of beauty, something most people in Western culture would agree on, but making them in these garish bright almost synthetic colors so it’s not entirely clear if they are beautiful or real at all,” she said. “And also having all these advertising images in the show that sort of started as the height of style but then fell out of favor (the way most advertisements do), I wanted to connect this to something that has a much briefer life span, that is really only beautiful for a few days or for the moment I photograph it, then is gone.”

“This show thinks a lot about the cycles of value of things we consider beautiful and how some images stand the test of time (like an image of a Greek ruin, for example), and others, like a lipstick ad, have a very brief life span before we no longer want to look at them. And ultimately, particularly in ‘Cover Girl,’ I am trying to parse an idea that the way we cycle through and discard objects and images has bearing on the way we treat others and ourselves too — particularly when it comes to female standards of beauty.”

To view the full article please visit The Wilton Bulletin.

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Tau Lewis Featured on The Arts Desk

July 18, 2019
Tags: News, Tau Lewis

Tau Lewis part of Yorkshire Sculpture International and featured on The Arts Desk. 

Sculpture is as much a part of Yorkshire as cricket and a decent cup of tea, with the “sculpture triangle”, comprising four prestigious museums and galleries, feeling almost as well-established as the county’s famed rhubarb triangle. Now the Hepworth Wakefield and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park have collaborated with the Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute next door to launch a sculpture festival.

Yorkshire Sculpture International, which runs until 29 September, showcases work new and old against the backdrop of the county’s considerable sculptural heritage, with Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, two of Yorkshire’s most illustrious offspring, rarely far from sight or mind. Their commitment to the modernist maxim of “truth to materials” provides a thematic anchor for 18 artists from 12 different countries, united by their interest in exploring the physical and cultural attributes of their chosen materials. New commissions from local and international artists, all at different points in their careers, respond also to a statement by Phyllida Barlow in 2018, that “sculpture is the most anthropological of the artforms.”

A unifying theme is vital for a festival as ambitious as this one, but Barlow’s insistence on sculpture as a human imperative is sufficiently ambiguous that it can accommodate just about anything. At the Henry Moore Institute it embraces the clankingly literal, with Rashid Johnson’s sculptures made from shea butter a striking example of concept triumphing over execution. Shea Butter Three Ways attempts to channel the exotic overtones of this luxury cosmetic ingredient into a broader critique of cultural appropriation and western cultural imperialism. The ideas are good, but the cloying smell is the memory that endures.

In Leeds and Wakefield city centres, Barlow’s statement might well have provided an opportunity – sadly wasted – for a re-evaluation of public sculpture and its role. Instead Leeds city centre hosts a self-serving homage to another of Yorkshire’s sons, Damien Hirst. Hymn, 1995-2005, a giant anatomical model in playschool colours towers over the city’s main shopping street, while inside the elegant Victoria Arcade, something similar bares its organs, as neatly packed and decorative as if they had been parceled up in one of the chichi boutiques nearby.

In Wakefield city centre, Receiver by Huma Bhabha is another dispiriting addition, the more so perhaps because it was specially commissioned. Vaguely humanoid, archly naive, the piece is an artist’s inadequate internal dialogue located in a civic space in a way that shows an extraordinary lack of judgement by both artist and curator. The piece shows no empathy with its location in the city’s fine and dignified square, eliciting well-deserved snorts of  derision from passing youth on BMX’s.

If misplaced self-importance is the scourge of public sculpture, self-searching work by west Yorkshire artist Rosanne Robertson brings insight and feeling to big topics. Her casts of rock formations, made on long walks in the countryside near her studio in Hebden Bridge, test the natural states of fluidity and solidity with dedication and originality. For her, these interrogations serves as a means to consider the nature of gender and sexuality: beautiful to look at, sensitive and responsive to the artistic antecedents that surround it in the gallery at Hepworth Wakefield, Robertson’s work combines sculpture and performance in works that are both personal and universal.

In a similar vein, Jamaican-Canadian sculptor Tau Lewis’s work is infused with the power of memory. Pieced together from fabrics collected from different places and people, Lewis’s handsewn sculptures of sea creatures and others are envisaged as reincarnations of victims of the slave trade, lost at sea but perpetuated through private and public acts of remembrance.

The highlight of the offering from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and perhaps of the festival overall, is an exhibition dedicated to David Smith (1906-1965), an American sculptor little known outside the USA, with few works in European collections. Though he died very young, he was prolific, and sculptures dating from 1932 until his death seen both outside and in, present a sustained dialogue with sculptural developments of the 20th century.

Though Smith can clearly be seen responding to surrealism and kinetic art, for example, it was industrial practices rather than artistic ones that motivated him in the first place. Works from the 1930s and 1940s recall the surrealist constructions of Giacometti, the erotic casts of Duchamp and Louise Bourgeois’s cells, while a piece such as Hudson River Landscape, 1951, a drawing in metal, relates to the work of his friend Alexander Calder.

In his Medals for Dishonor series, 1939, Smith’s antecedents reach back still further. The series of 15 large scale reliefs recall Renaissance medals, their theme of protest against the horrors of war echoing Goya’s print series, The Disasters of War, 1810-20

Much as fine art provides an intellectual and formal backdrop for Smith’s work, his training as a welder was every bit as influential, a stint at the Studebacker car factory while a student proving formative. A decade or so later, in 1934, Smith rented workspace at the Terminal Iron Works in Brooklyn, so that he was in the remarkable and surely at that time unique position of prdoucing sculptures surrounded by industrial metalworkers.

Works from the 1950s and 1960s combine an industrial aesthetic with fields of colour reminiscent of the paintings of that era. In fact, Smith’s work often challenges the very fundamentals of sculpture itself, insisting on flatness and rejecting mass and volume, traditionally the very essence of sculpture.

Long-awaited, difficult to stage, and including the rare chance to see Smith’s sculptures out of doors, this exhibition is by far and away the high point of the inaugural Yorkshire Sculpture Festival, and a reason to go in itself. Smith’s works add a further, enlivening dimension to the possibly rather overawing dual presence of Hepworth and Moore. Along with an impressive outreach project that is not only supporting early careers of promising young artists like Roseanne Robertson, but also introducing school children to sculpture, this is what will be remembered from this first edition of a festival that has every reason to grow into an annual monument.

To view the full article please visit The Arts Desk.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Interview with artist Tau Lewis at The Hepworth Wakefield

July 12, 2019
Tags: News, Tau Lewis

 

As part of Yorkshire Sculpture International, The Hepworth Wakefield sat down with self-taught artist Tau Lewis (b.1993, Toronto) while she spoke about her first solo show outside of North America, taking place in Wakefield. Yorkshire Sculpture International, the largest festival of sculpture in the UK, runs at The Hepworth Wakefield, Leeds Art Gallery, Henry Moore Institute and Yorkshire Sculpture Park from 22 June – 29 September 2019.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Sara Cwynar Featured on Zukus

July 11, 2019

Sara Cwynar’s solo exhibition at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art is featured on Zukus.

Sara Cwynar’s video Cover Girl (2018), the artist’s meditation on femininity and the history of cosmetics, includes scenes shot in the depths of an unnamed makeup factory. In one scene, the camera pans over sterile jars filled with flesh-tone liquids to be eventually sold as foundation. In another, thin sheets of oily rose-colored wax—pink lipstick in progress—cascade down a slide looking like slices of finely shaved deli meat, delectable and disgusting.

There is something jarring about seeing the cold realities of the beauty industry—a sector that is growing rapidly among millennials, shilling self-care, individuality, and most important, the capacity to be Instagram ready. And after one views Cover Girl in Cwynar’s “Gilded Age” at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut—the artist’s first East Coast solo museum show—it’s hard to resist seeking out more footage from inside cosmetics factories. My favorite, a YouTube video by L’Oréal on its lipstick-making process, stands out for embracing the contradiction between the product’s associations and its mode of manufacturing, stressing that “as glamorous as it is, lipstick is still a high-technology product.” As the video elaborates, lip color is mixed according to tested, standardized procedures. To achieve each shade, multiple pigments are needed, and each tube contains about 20 ingredients.

Images, especially those of women, are just as manufactured—comprising ingredients that cohere into one appealing or comprehensible vision. And many of Cwynar’s videos and photographs are designed, like Cover Girl, to offer something like a behind-the-scenes look into the making of feminine ideals. Her work forces viewers to question why certain tropes of femininity appear beautiful or at least normalized. Why does a synthetically produced red lip, for example, read as sultry rather than machinic? And when and why do we embrace artifice in women? How much makeup is too much? At what point does self-enhancement slip from tasteful to garish?

Cwynar’s work is also interested more broadly in identifying the palettes, cinematographic moods, and media formats we are subconsciously drawn to. For example, her best-known film, Rose Gold (2017)—shown in a 2017 exhibition at her New York gallery, Foxy Production—highlights our attraction to soft colors and faded analog film. (Soft Film is the title of a 2016 video showing the artist arranging her vintage eBay purchases by look, date, and function.) Shot on 16 millimeter, Rose Gold centers on color trends and takes its name from the popular, since-discontinued iPhone color option. Through a series of montages and voiceovers, Cwynar reveals how our reception of different hues changes over time by comparing our appreciation of the titular iridescent pink to our revulsion for older, harsher metallics like harvest gold, a mustardy shade that was a staple of 1970s fridges and shag carpets.

Sara Cwynar Featured on The Nation

July 11, 2019

Sara Cwynar’s exhibition at The Aldrich is featured on The Nation. 

Sara Cwynar’s video Cover Girl (2018), the artist’s meditation on femininity and the history of cosmetics, includes scenes shot in the depths of an unnamed makeup factory. In one scene, the camera pans over sterile jars filled with flesh-tone liquids to be eventually sold as foundation. In another, thin sheets of oily rose-colored wax—pink lipstick in progress—cascade down a slide looking like slices of finely shaved deli meat, delectable and disgusting.

There is something jarring about seeing the cold realities of the beauty industry—a sector that is growing rapidly among millennials, shilling self-care, individuality, and most important, the capacity to be Instagram ready. And after one views Cover Girl in Cwynar’s “Gilded Age” at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut—the artist’s first East Coast solo museum show—it’s hard to resist seeking out more footage from inside cosmetics factories. My favorite, a YouTube video by L’Oréal on its lipstick-making process, stands out for embracing the contradiction between the product’s associations and its mode of manufacturing, stressing that “as glamorous as it is, lipstick is still a high-technology product.” As the video elaborates, lip color is mixed according to tested, standardized procedures. To achieve each shade, multiple pigments are needed, and each tube contains about 20 ingredients.

Images, especially those of women, are just as manufactured—comprising ingredients that cohere into one appealing or comprehensible vision. And many of Cwynar’s videos and photographs are designed, like Cover Girl, to offer something like a behind-the-scenes look into the making of feminine ideals. Her work forces viewers to question why certain tropes of femininity appear beautiful or at least normalized. Why does a synthetically produced red lip, for example, read as sultry rather than machinic? And when and why do we embrace artifice in women? How much makeup is too much? At what point does self-enhancement slip from tasteful to garish?

Cwynar’s work is also interested more broadly in identifying the palettes, cinematographic moods, and media formats we are subconsciously drawn to. For example, her best-known film, Rose Gold (2017)—shown in a 2017 exhibition at her New York gallery, Foxy Production—highlights our attraction to soft colors and faded analog film. (Soft Film is the title of a 2016 video showing the artist arranging her vintage eBay purchases by look, date, and function.) Shot on 16 millimeter, Rose Goldcenters on color trends and takes its name from the popular, since-discontinued iPhone color option. Through a series of montages and voiceovers, Cwynar reveals how our reception of different hues changes over time by comparing our appreciation of the titular iridescent pink to our revulsion for older, harsher metallics like harvest gold, a mustardy shade that was a staple of 1970s fridges and shag carpets.

Cover Girl picks up on the themes of Rose Gold, demystifying beauty as something in flux—subject to the rules of advertising and manufacturing rather than instinct or nature—and continues Cwynar’s exploration of 16 millimeter’s subduing effects. As she observed at the opening of “Gilded Age,” many of the hottest brands, like Glossier, a naturalish makeup line, and Acne Studios, the Swedish fashion house, trade in dusty colors. A certain form of nostalgia is trending, hungry for the sun-washed tints and blurry imprecision of older media, and Cwynar capitalizes on this fact in her filmmaking. Despite Cover Girl’s unsavory factory scenes, its retro format tinges it with an overall loveliness. Wrapped in the warm embrace of analog, even its sequences of sterile machinery acquire an undeniable gauzy charm, appearing slower and less sharply defined than if they were captured digitally.

Cwynar was born in 1985 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and studied and worked in graphic design—she is a former New York Times Magazine staffer—before turning to the fine arts and pursuing an MFA in photography at Yale. Her background in the world of commercial and editorial design has made her particularly well suited to engage questions about how we package and create beauty trends and given her the skills to understand how professionally made images of women and their products function.

How images and texts are placed, colored, and arranged establishes the parameters within which we all receive and assess visual media and their subjects, yet these mechanics often go unnoticed by the untrained eye or are unremarkable to consumers less interested in advertisement’s construction than its emotional impact. Thanks to her training, however, Cwynar is capable of seeing through myriad design conventions and teases apart how graphics induce desire or disgust in their viewers. Her practice owes a debt to conceptual and appropriation work done in the 1970s and ’80s by artists like Sherrie Levine and Sarah Charlesworth, both credited in “Gilded Age,” but Cwynar takes their insights further and applies them to Web design in addition to print.

For instance, 141 Pictures of Sophie, 1, 2, and 3 (2019)—displayed in the room next to Cover Girl—unpacks the rules that structure online fashion photo shoots. A petite redhead, attractive in a bland way, is photographed three times in Cwynar’s studio against a backdrop printed with a square grid pattern: in the first image, facing directly forward; in the next, angled at a slight leftward tilt; and in the third, turned away from the beholder. The subject, Sophie, is a popular Web model, and the three-part configuration mirrors the way models are frequently shot for online clothing sales in a three-point turn that displays the front, side, and back of a garment. Cwynar has made this fact visible by taping and attaching over the large-scale studio portraits layers of smaller pictures of Sophie standing in identical positions printed from Web pages (mainly Ssense, a high-end fashion, editorial, and e-commerce platform) and cut out. Cwynar then rephotographed the ensemble, giving the final composition an air of both professionalism and amateurism: The pieces of conspicuous tape, the imperfect, slightly jagged scissor cuts, and the lovingly handmade quality of the arrangement—as you might see on a mood board or locker door—feel at odds with the flat glossiness of its format.

Cwynar copies e-commerce photography but does so imperfectly and with an intentional degree of error and eccentricity that claims it as her own. The photographs force us to confront ostensibly ordinary images, highlighting the disjuncture between the Sophie depicted in the studio and her sleeker digital twin, who has benefited from some expert airbrushing and color correction. An 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. The juxtaposition shows how old techniques of image doctoring persist online in newer and subtler forms and offers a sharp take on the internet as a medium that innovates but does not entirely invent. Cwynar’s skill in illuminating both the electrifying newness and continuities and regressions of Web culture is praiseworthy and makes her one of the most captivating photographers of the millennial generation.

If 141 Pictures of Sophiedemonstrates how the Internet gives novel form to old politics, in the ways it objectifies women and touches up reality, then its neighboring piece 432 Nefertitis(2015) illustrates how Web browsers function as something like time machines, operating as portals through which we can explore images, objects, and people of millennia past. Another collage, 432 Nefertitisassembles hundreds of pictures of Nefertiti’s famous circa 1340 BCE bust, with high cheekbones and kohl-lined eyes, in a shape that resembles open browser windows on a computer screen. Sophie’s and Nefertiti’s idealized forms—a twentysomething model and one of the beauty industry’s most ancient references—circulate in the same temporal space of the Internet, ready for us to view, download, print, and share. A Rococo Base (2018) is similarly anachronistic in its pairings: Resembling a visual-culture junk drawer, its surface displays feminine frills from across the ages—eyeshadow palettes in Barbie hues, pastel Post-it notes, photographs of contemporary runway looks, and part of a reproduction of Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun’s 1778 painting of Marie Antoinette. Cropped from the larger painting and removed from its 18th-century background, the queen’s pose reads more coquettish cover girl than stoic royalty. The face that launched a thousand products.

In all her bouffant-haired, pale-powder-faced splendor, Marie Antoinette has gone too far by today’s standards. She is overdone: kitsch and, to many, unsightly. Though her look may be passé, it is hard to claim that her quest for picture-perfect beauty is similarly outdated. Women have long been tasked with the impossible mission to be both beautiful and natural. Society has demanded that women be pleasing to the eye, then castigated them for falsity and capriciousness when, to do so, they turned, as did Marie Antoinette, to the aid of rouges and paints. As Cwynar’s work shows, the times may change, but societal expectations of women as standard bearers of so-called tasteful beauty—one that enhances inside the bounds of plausibility—have remained, in many ways, remarkably the same. The creamy pinks and porcelain whites of the rococo may be unsubtle to modern eyes, but are they so unlike the translucent shimmers of Glossier? Aren’t they ultimately all just shades of the same thing?

To view the full article please visit The Nation.

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

 

Vikky Alexander Featured on British Journal of Photography

July 8, 2019

Vikky Alexander’s retrospective Extreme Beauty at the Vancouver Art Gallery is featured on the British Journal of Photography.

Vikky Alexander co-opts the visual language of consumerist culture to provoke a state of self-awareness in her viewers

“I still fall into the imaginative depths of the photograph,” says Vikky Alexander. The Canadian artist’s practice spans montage, sculpture, collage and installation, but photography remains her focus. “I love the glossy surface of the paper,” she continues. “It is still seductive to me.”

Alexander’s practice centres on exploring the mechanisms of display that influence society’s perception of beauty and desire, and the way in which they attribute meaning to things. The photograph exists as the ideal medium to aid this endeavour. “My work should make people self-aware about how they function in society, or how mechanisms of display attempt to influence them,” says Alexander. “But, in a fairly gentle way because I am doing the same thing. I am looking at a work and thinking ‘how am I supposed to perceive that?’.

Alexander’s first retrospective Extreme Beauty, on show at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada, explores the major themes that have preoccupied her work for over three decades. “Looking back can be difficult,” reflects Alexander, whose entry into photography coincided with the emergence of the Pictures Generation in 1980s New York – a loose group of artists reappropriating the visual language of consumer culture in order to expose the tactics at work. Alexander moved to the city straight out of university in 1979. Her contemporaries included Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger and Sherry Levine – she was the youngest and most unknown, but the relationships she had with these practitioners contributed greatly to the development of her practice.

“It was exactly what I wanted,” says Alexander, who discovered photography while studying at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, between 1976 to 1979. Visiting lecturers – including Dan Graham, Dara Birnbaum, and Martha Rosler – opened up the possibilities of the medium, but the photographer felt suffocated in the male-dominated darkroom in which street photography prevailed. “Those were the kind of ideas that I was interested in – employing photography in a more conceptual way,” she continues.

The exhibition begins with work made during this time, from 1980 to 1987. In Obsession, (1983), Alexander coopts the visual language of the glossy magazine, creating a 20-foot-long panel composed of images of model Christie Brinkly – enlarged and rendered in luminescent yellow. The piece epitomises the focus of her early practice: an interrogation of the ‘ideal’ woman projected by the media and advertising in order to critique, and expose, the wider culture of consumerism pervading public consciousness.

Today, the work has accrued new significance and continues to highlight the enduring drive for perfection that defines consumerist culture. “A graduate student was writing about Obsession and she was fascinated by the number of wrinkles that you could see on Christie Brinkly’s face,” says Alexander. “She was probably 25 at the time. But, because of the way she was shot, and because there was no Photoshop, she looks less idealised than models in magazines do now.”

It was while studying at NSCAD that Alexander became interested in building design and structure, taking an experimental architecture course at the Technical University of Nova Scotia. In an interview with Canadian Art, the photographer also spoke about the lasting impact that Dan Graham’s photography of architecture and the vernacular had on her when he attended the university as a visiting lecturer. By the mid-1980s Alexander had began to explore these preoccupations in her work; her practice shifted to interrogate the way in which humans interact with nature. Then, in the 1990s, it refocused on our relationship with architecture and interior décor.

This final development coincided with Alexander moving to Vancouver in 1992, where she became associated with the Vancouver School of Photoconceptualism – a group of artists including Jeff Wall and Rodney Graham, employing photography and other new media in a conceptual capacity to explore the social force of imagery. The exhibition traces this evolution. Work such as Paris Showrooms: Gold Torso 2009 frames the gleaming interior of a shop, captured behind a reflective, glass storefront. Just as her earlier work encourages audiences to critically-reflect on the visual language of consumerist culture, Alexander employs architectural settings to invite us to think about how they are engineered to entice us.

The exhibition draws out these recurring themes. Whether we are reassessing the way in which we perceive the ‘ideal’ women depicted in magazine spreads, or how we position ourselves in relation to a utopic shop interior,  Alexander forces us to think critically about what we are looking at. “You see yourself reflected in the piece and you try to figure out how you are going to position yourself,” she explains. “It is all about self-awareness.”

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

For more information about Vikky Alexander please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Vikky Alexander Featured in Inside Vancouver

July 4, 2019

Vikky Alexander’s solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery is featured on Inside Vancouver.

Vikky Alexander: Extreme Beauty
Where: Vancouver Art Gallery
What: The Vancouver Art Gallery presents Vikky Alexander: Extreme Beauty, the first retrospective of the renowned Canadian artist. Alexander became known for her investigations of the appropriated image, the artificiality of nature and the seduction of space in the 1980s. Extreme Beauty showcases more than eighty works from this artist’s career whose practice includes photography, sculpture, collage and installation.
Runs Until: Sunday October 20, 2019

 

To view the full article please visit Inside Vancouver. 

For more information about Vikky Alexander please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Vikky Alexander featured in the Georgia Straight

July 4, 2019

Vikky Alexander’s solo retrospective Vikky Alexander: Extreme Beauty at the Vancouver Art Gallery is featured in the Georgia Straight.

 

 

Vikky Alexander queries Extreme Beauty at the Vancouver Art Gallery

 

In her major new survey, Vikky Alexander (centre) poses questions about advertising tropes and desire (photo by Ian Lefebvre); coloured Plexiglas gives a new sheen to her Obsession (left, detail) and Between Dreaming and Living Series #5(right).

In 1983, the acclaimed Canadian artist Vikky Alexander was living in New York, working with images appropriated from popular culture—especially from high-end fashion magazines. Her conceptual practice, which posed questions about advertising tropes and the nature of desire, was generating buzz from East Coast critics, curators, and gallerists. It also attracted the attention of Vancouver’s Bill Jeffries, who invited Alexander to show at his Coburg Gallery, which specialized in photographic art.

“At the time Bill asked me, it was spring and all the magazines that I was using were featuring Christie Brinkley,” Alexander tells the Straight, standing in front of her multipanel work Obsession. It consists of 10 large, grainy, numbered images of the famous model. Framed and mounted in a tight grid, it serves as an introduction to the exhibition Vikky Alexander: Extreme Beauty. Installed on the second floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by the VAG’s Daina Augaitis, this big, shiny, and seductive survey of Alexander’s stellar career spans the years 1981 to the present day.

Alexander, who was based in New York City from 1979 to 1992 and in Vancouver from 1992 to 2016, and who now lives and works in Montreal, was struck by the ubiquity of Brinkley’s image all those years ago. It was reproduced “everywhere” at the time she conceived Obsession, she recalls—from Time magazine to British Vogue—provoking her curiosity about Brinkley’s appeal to advertisers and art directors.

“I started collecting images of her and then I rephotographed them on a copy stand and enlarged them to poster size,” Alexander says. To distinguish her work from mainstream black-and-white photography, she mounted the grainy prints under yellow Plexiglas. “And I added these numbers, one through 10, because I thought this is the opposite of what ‘straight’ photography does. I’m not trying to capture a personality in one image—that’s impossible—so I thought, ‘Well, this is a series that could keep going ad infinitum. This is another Christie Brinkley and this is another one.’ ”

While previewing her exhibition with the Straight, Alexander talks about some of her subjects and strategies. Like many concept-driven artists, she employs whatever form, medium, and materials are needed to convey her ideas. Her exhibition includes installations of commercial photomurals, digital prints in light boxes, mirrored glass “furniture”, and collages printed on canvas. It also features her most recent works: four spectacular site-specific inkjet prints on self-adhesive vinyl, installed floor to ceiling—the ceiling in this instance being more than 7.5 metres high. Alexander’s photo-based practice employs not only appropriated images but also original prints. She has shot theme parks and shopping malls, classical gardens and conservatories, and clothing-store windows and furniture showrooms, her locations ranging from Las Vegas and Disneyland to Paris, Tokyo, and Istanbul.

In the mid-1980s, Alexander shifted her focus from the human figure to forms and images that speak to landscape conventions, modernist architecture, utopian ideals, the romantic notion of the sublime, consumer culture and retail display, and the places where nature and culture intersect. Mirrors, windows, and other reflecting surfaces recur throughout the show. These surfaces function as both the subject of Alexander’s photographs and her actual materials, which beam viewers back at themselves.

“That’s something that is a thread that goes through a lot of my work, the moment of self-reflection,” she says. “This is a literal moment, when you’re going, ‘Oh, I’m a viewer looking at this thing.’ ”

Alexander walks around her installation Vaux-le-Vicomte Panorama, which is composed of eight mirrored columns set in V-formation in front of a large screen on which wide, low-res images of that famous 17th-century French garden are projected. She recounts something of the garden’s history and describes taking photos of the place with a disposable camera. She also speaks of the inspiration for the mirrored columns: a gay disco she visited in Vancouver. “There were mirrored surfaces all around kicking light around the place and I thought, ‘This is so good. How can I use it?’ ” Her mirrored columns serve to fracture, pull apart, and break up the panorama, she says.

In an earlier work, Lake in the Woods, Alexander used mirrored tiles, faux-wood panelling, and a large photomural of a northern lake to conjure up a classic rec-room aesthetic, the kitschiest of decorative materials grappling with the modernist ideal of bringing the outside in. At the same time, this installation presents a second- or even third-hand version of the natural world, musing on the ways society has long attempted to frame and control nature. Alexander mentions the Claude glass, a small convex mirror that 18th-century travellers in Europe were advised to use, back turned, to view what might otherwise be overwhelming vistas. “You could compose the landscape perfectly in this mirror instead of falling into the sublime yourself,” she explains. Lake in the Woods, she adds, “is kind of a funny pop version of that”.

When Alexander was young, before committing herself to visual art, she contemplated becoming an architect—and allusions to the built environment play a large role throughout her work. “I glean ideas from architecture,” she says, “but I’m not a builder because I like to use things that already exist in the world somehow.” Early on, she realized she was too dedicated to her own creative vision to meet the demands of architectural clients. “I could never have put the client first,” she says with a laugh. “I know I shouldn’t say this, but I’m just the wrong personality.”

Extreme Beauty opens at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday (July 6) and runs through October 27.

 

To view the full article please visit the Georgia Straight.

For more information about Vikky Alexander please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

 

Sara Cwynar in Feature Shoot

July 4, 2019

Sara Cwynar’s solo exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is featured on Feature Shoot. 

Like any language, photography has given birth to a series of clichés that are reductive at best. At their worst, they become a vehicle for disinformation and stereotype, fueling pathologies by reinforcing the most dangerous aspects of confirmation bias. As Jenny Holzer noted, “Clichés endure” — and may very well exist until we root them out and expose them for the perilous, short-sighted, and sloppy thinking that they are.

Canadian artist Sara Cwynar takes aim at popular photographic clichés in her new exhibition, Gilded Age, on view at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT, through November 10, 2019. Featuring a selection of the artist’s color photographs made over the past five years, the exhibition also includes Kitsch Encyclopedia (2014) her first artist book; Cover Girl (2018), a 16mm film on video with sound; and 72 Pictures of Modern Paintings (2016), a site-specific wallpaper.

Whatever medium Cwynar selects, she uses the form to explore and expose the ways in which images are constructed and recycled in an endless digital loop. Cwynar sets her sights on the preponderance of visual clichés that crowd our space, recognizing the ways in which they can be used as dog whistles to signify ulterior agendas.

For Cwynar, the subject of misogyny takes center stage as she delves deep into the past to examine the ways in which dated iconography is continuously revived. Whether looking at portraits or product shots, Cwynar’s work reveals a cultural penchant for played out archetypes that reinforce dated notions of gender and sexuality as a means to cultivate insecurity and desire and thus expand market share.

While her starting point is drawn from pre-digital sources as diverse as the New York Public Library, a local dollar store, a curbside dumpster, and eBay, Cwynar uses technology to examine the ways in which visual language plays into our fantasies while simultaneously spawning nightmares. The modern-day obsession with lifestyle, as evidenced by everyone from social media influencers to advertisers underscores a long-standing capitalist belief that you can buy happiness — when they understand that the pleasure is as fleeting as the printing of your receipt, and once hooked you can be sold time and again, like an addict on the street.

Yet, for all of the truth that is exposed, the fact is there’s nothing quite so pleasurable as the high. Cwynar’s work does not veer away from beauty, but rather uses it like bait on a hook, captivating us with the fact that what we really, really want, is to stand still and just look.

To view the full article please visit Feature Shoot. 

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Geoff McFetridge Featured on Art Viewer

July 3, 2019

Geoff McFetridge’s solo exhibition is featured on Art Viewer.

 

Artist: Geoff McFetridge

Venue: COOPER COLE, Toronto, Canada

Date: June 13 – July 19, 2019

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and COOPER COLE, Toronto

COOPER COLE is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Geoff McFetridge. This marks the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, his first in Toronto since 2012.

In the paintings on show, Geoff McFetridge waxes poetic on the human condition. Figures are arranged against flat tonal surfaces, often forming simple shapes in their solidarity. They lean on one another or melt, become one; they leap through space using heads as stepping-stones. The way McFetridge has choreographed bodies makes apt metaphor for social mechanism, whereby the final form (of a new image or world) is achieved through collective action and support. In paintings otherwise, the motif of a string is present, looping through geometric forms and bodily fragments, an ode to the interconnectedness of things. In a moment, coloured line embodies thought: graspable between the narrow in-betweens of fingers, or differently transferrable among communing individuals. For this, McFetridge continues his ongoing conceptual investigation of painting at the nexus of drawing and design.

Geoff McFetridge (b. 1971, Calgary, Canada) received his Bachelor of Art from The AlbertaCollege of Art and Design, Calgary, Canada, and his MFA from California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, USA. He has exhibited internationally at The Art Gallery of Vancouver, Vancouver; Cooper Cole, Toronto, Canada; Joshua Liner Gallery, Half Gallery, The Hole, Cooper Hewitt, New York; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle; Museum of Contemporary Art, New Image Art Gallery, Los Angeles; Pasadena Museum of Art, Pasadena; County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, USA; Parco Gallery X, PlayMountain, AD21, Tokyo, Japan; Bondi Pavilion, Sydney, Australia; Ivory & Black, London, United Kingdom; V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark; Mu, Eindhoven, Netherlands; The Spitroom, Berlin, Germany; Volta, Basel, Switzerland. He is the winner of the 2016 Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Award. In 2019, he was awarded The Medal of AIGA. McFetridge currently lives and works in Los Angeles, USA.

To view the full article please visit Art Viewer.

For more information about Geoff McFetridge please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

ektor garcia featured in The Art Newspaper

July 2, 2019

ektor garcia’s two-person exhibition Tricknology at Marianne Boesky is featured in The Art Newspaper  as a must-see gallery show.

Tricknology

Marianne Boesky, Aspen, 26 July – 9 September

The hip-hop group Brand Nubian says that the best way to defend against “tricknology”—i.e. getting fooled by the system—is by reclaiming history in order to know oneself. It is a point of inspiration for the artist Sanford Biggers, who curates this show pairing two emerging artists: Allison Janae Hamilton, who explores the American South, and latinx artist Ektor Garcia. Both seek to redefine American identity for a new age.

 

To view the full article please visit The Art Newspaper.

For more information about ektor garcia please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Tau Lewis featured in Elephant

July 1, 2019
Tags: News, Tau Lewis

Tau Lewis’ exhibition at Hepworth Wakefield is featured in Elephant.

Tau Lewis, twenty-six, is in Wakefield, standing in front of her latest works—a series of three very large hybrid sculptures—at the Hepworth, as part of Yorkshire Sculpture International. Visible up-close are the seams of jeans and other scraps of found and collected fabrics, a patchwork that has been stitched with care by hand and constructed entirely from discarded materials. The Canadian-Jamaican artist Lewis, who was raised in Toronto, spoke eloquently about the work she had made, employing underwater metaphors to create new, positive stories about black bodies in the water, where histories have been effaced. Her fictional sea creatures fill the space and your imagination. Inspired by her mother’s hobby of collecting other people’s junk and turning it into something of beauty, and the environmental ethics of our age, Lewis makes form out of fragments, in artworks that are both compelling and eco-friendly.

Why is it important to you to repurpose materials?

I started working in assemblage a few years ago because I was interested in using what was available to me. I’m not classically trained, and I don’t always use traditional methods of construction. I think a lot about access to art making and access to materials, there is an abundance of things available to us as sculptors that for one don’t cost anything, and secondly can be recycled. It’s not a new concept to me, because I grew up in a hand-me-downs, second-hand-shopping household, and that’s something I always enjoyed, finding unique things and treasure hunting.

I’m especially interested in found and repurposed things because of their affective histories, invisible narratives and how they can add depth to a vessel that tells a new story. Objects hold energies and frequencies I believe, especially after passing through people’s hands, or being near to the earth or water. I want to honour the diasporic traditions of repurposing and making cultural objects out of what’s available. I think there’s great potential for magic within the confines of limitation. It forces one to flex different muscles and look at things differently, from every angle in order to create something.

The wall-hanging tapestry work, The Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society, was inspired by a painting at your mother’s house; can you tell me about that painting and generally about how your mother’s collecting inspired you?

It was only recently that I started to actually view my mother as an art collector. Every wall and surface of the house is covered in different things she’s collected, from the side of the road, or yard sales, from the trash and also from her travels. I think about the lines we draw between craft and fine art, and especially about the ways in which contemporary art historically and continually co-opts and borrows from little acknowledged communities of craftspeople. So I’m able to learn something important by looking at my mum’s collecting habits, and it has to do with the individual’s ability to assert their own value system in their home and also in the world. It challenges classist, racist and capitalist biases about the origins and meanings of certain objects.

The painting I referenced to create the tapestry shown at The Hepworth Wakefield is hung in the bathroom of her house. It’s been there as long as I can remember, she collected it in Westmoreland, Jamaica. It depicts a coral reef with a strange assortment of aquatic life intermingling. It’s beautifully drawn and is sort of comical because of the depicted relationships. Lobster with eel, turtle hanging out with stingray, it says “The Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society” at the bottom in big block letters. It was a good starting point for the exhibition given that I’ve been thinking about aquatic territories in relation to black history/ancestors. I also am fascinated by the ocean, and I also thought it would be a good way to memorialize the artwork, which is now deteriorating and peeling at the edges a bit.

The works you’re currently showing in Wakefield have lots of qualities, but they’re imbued with this sort of mystic sensuality and eroticism—especially the octopus figure. Does this come from the tactile approach to your work, the fact you work with them by hand and carry them next to you, and that some of the materials have been worn by different people…?

Many of the materials are mine, usually work pants and other things. There’s an infusion of personal belongings in everything I make. I also believe energy passes through the hands and on to the objects, especially through the labour-intensive work of hand sewing. Maybe that’s what makes them feel alive.

The squid character is definitely phallic, it is a squid after all. On it, in and around the faces there are some labial looking flaps. When it comes down to it, nature’s funnest and most interesting shapes are inherently erotic I guess.

You’re self-taught: how did you manage that?

I tried twice at post-secondary education, both times for something other than fine art, both times it didn’t work out. I’m glad I didn’t rush to attend an art college as it could have discouraged the tendency towards art making in me as well. I had the upper hand of time. My first studio was shared with seven other women, mostly recent art school grads who had a very hard time just getting going once graduated. Time, specifically time to research materials and experiment and figure out why I was making, for myself, was my advantage while I wasn’t attending school. Classical training, while extremely useful for many, isn’t necessarily helpful for every artist. There’s also no right or wrong way (physically speaking) to construct an artwork. I worked as a bartender and a waitress and at one point a cleaning lady and funneled my time and money into learning and making. Both of my parents are self-taught in their professions.

You travelled the world while making these works; how did that affect what you produced? 

I work in patches normally. One of the nice things I’ve discovered about using fabric is that on top of being easy to source, no matter where you are in the world, it can be easily folded and packed up into a suitcase for travel. After returning to Toronto last February from LA, I began assembling together patches which I’d started on my travels.

The environment always affects the work. I have travelled in the past to make assemblage sculptures on site for an exhibition with limited time to create the work, and the work, especially when you are using found materials which are unique, is always in one way or another determined by, and a reflection of the landscape you are making it in. That’s something that challenges me to work outside of the canon of materials, textures and colors I normally gravitate to and is something I really enjoy.

To view the full article please visit the Elephant.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Daniel Rios Rodriguez Featured in the Irish Times

June 29, 2019

Daniel Rios Rodriguez is included in group exhibition Shadowplay at the Kerlin Gallery, Anne’s Lane, South Anne St, Dublin, July 12th to August 28th and featured in the Irish Times. 

The show features work by Siobhán Hapaska, Willie Doherty, Aleana Egan, Liam Gillick, Callum Innes, William McKeown, Kathy Prendergast, Daniel Rios Rodriguez and Sean Scully.

To view the full article please visit the Irish Times.

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

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Sara Cwynar and ektor garcia featured in the Observer

June 29, 2019

ektor garcia’s solo exhibition at the Sculpture Center and Sara Cwynar’s exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum are both featured in “5 Summer Exhibitions Every New York Art Lover Needs to See” in the Observer.

“Ektor Garcia: Cadena Perpetua”
SculptureCenter, Long Island City, NY
Through July 29

This summer, Ektor Garcia turns the Sculpture Center into a handcrafted minimalist dungeon for S&M lovers. Chains made of clay and crocheted rugs made from wire hang from the museum’s ceilings, juicing the family traditions drawn from his hometown of Zacatecas, Mexico, with a sexual charge. Yet, there’s an unexpected quietness to the work, reflecting the long history the Garcia’s materials call back to, while using the contemporary art context to simultaneously nod to the future.

 

“Sara Cwynar: Gilded Age”
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT
Through November 10

Beyond anything else, Sara Cwynar’s photographs look great. Drawing inspiration from pre-digital photographs, marketing tropes and advertising clichés, Cwynar’s work plays with themes of the visual permanence and the mutability of images. In one work, she photographs her fingers laid on top of a reproduction of Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, gesturing both to enduring issues of appropriation of black culture and exploitation of women’s bodies, while also offering a vision of a more positive future. The artist nods to her own agency, in which she has the power to reimagine any image she might choose.

To view the full article please visit the Observer.

For more information about ektor garcia or Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Sara Cwynar Featured in Lebanon News

June 29, 2019

Sara Cwynar’s solo exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is featured in Lebanon News. 

Today’s show: “Sara Cwynar: Gilded Age” is on view at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut, through Sunday, November 10. The solo exhibition features color photographs by Cwynar, her first artist book, a film, and a site-specific wallpaper, which is being shown in the United States for the first time.

To view the full article please visit Lebanon News. 

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Vikky Alexander In Vancouver Magazine

June 28, 2019

Vikky Alexander’s solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery is featured as a top Vancouver event to kick off the month in Vancouver Magazine.

Extreme Art

July 6 – October 27

This week, check out the opening of Vikky Alexander: Extreme Beauty, an exhibit that “interrogates the mechanisms of display that shape meaning, beauty and desire in our culture.” It’s the perfect opportunity to show off your new sophisticated summer self. With more than 80 works to choose from, you’re sure to find something that speaks to you—whether it inspires you to think about the seduction of space or informs your July mood board (or both).

When: Saturday, July 6 – Sunday, October 27
Where: Vancouver Art Gallery
Cost: From $6.50
More Info: vanartgallery.bc.ca

 

To view the full article please visit Vancouver Magazine. 

For more information about Vikky Alexander please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

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