In Conversation with Eden Seifu

December 4, 2020

Eden Seifu was in conversation with us about her practice, in conjunction with NADA Miami.

 

For more information about Eden Seifu please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Gabrielle l’Hirondelle Hill featured on Public Parking

December 3, 2020

Gabrielle l’Hirondelle Hill is featured in Public Parking in conversation with Michaela Dixon.

Tobacco, Energetic fields, and Indigenous economies: in conversation with Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill

I was in conversation with Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill between this past August and October. I reached Hill from London, UK, and over the period of our interaction, we navigated the intricacies of distant time zones, the entire Atlantic Ocean, and an ever-evolving pandemic. As a conversation partner, Hill was kind, engaging and always honest.

Hill is a Cree and Metis artist/writer living in Vancouver, BC, located on the unceded Musqueam, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh territory. The artist employs sculpture, installation, found materials, and paper as tools for enquiry into concepts of land, property, and economy. Hill is interested in Indigenous economies, the valuation of labour, the peripatetic process, tobacco, sunsets in a certain part of town, our relationship to space, ephemera, bunnies and so much more.

Sourcing many of her materials from her own neighborhood, there is a central intimacy to the artist’s work. As a member of the Indigenous artist collective BUSH Gallery, Hill is committed to decolonial and non-institutional ways of engaging and valuing Indigenous knowledge and creative production. This model has led the way for an experimental practice that prioritizes land-based teaching, thinking, and community engagement.

In 2017, Hill acquired deaccessioned artifacts from the North Vancouver Museum and Archives. A result of their forthcoming relocation, the museum had reached out to Polygon Gallery in an attempt to help rehouse many objects and Reid Sheer, the museum’s director recommended they reach out to Hill. The artist had visited the archives on several occasions and some of the items she selected were repurposed into four sculptures titled Four Effigies For the End of Property: Preempt, Improve, The Highest and Best Use, Be Long (2017). These works act as leading testimony and witness to how the land on which Polygon Gallery stands became property under the law of Canada, stolen from the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh First Nation. Each of the four works explores the structure that enabled this land to be translated and transfigured into private property.

This past summer, Hill was set to open a solo exhibition at MoMA in New York that has since been postponed to April 2021 as a result of the global pandemic. Projects: Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill will be the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States. The exhibition brings together sculptures, drawings and a great big bunny made of tobacco in a mission to call attention to the plant’s complex Indigenous and colonial histories. As the artist explains, the bunny is used to recall both an Indigenous and a reproductive labour that has been historically disciplined and criminalized for centuries. Tobacco’s sacred and sensorial properties have taken many forms. It has been passed between hands for personal, social, political, and spiritual uses for generations past and will continue to for generations to come.

In this conversation, Hill and I speak about:  tobacco, collective memory, energetic fields, Indigenous economies, the pandemic, coded landscapes, making art in a capitalist system, drawing in order to get rid of something but mostly to hold onto it and a great deal more. Despite the fact that colonial governments have used very extreme measures to impose capitalism onto Indigenous people, our economy has survived, and it poses a living alternative to capitalism and a threat to capitalism.

A great way into the crux of your practice is through your use of tobacco, a material that permeates and gives form to much of your work. Can you speak to how you began working with the material and what drew you to it?

I actually began working with tobacco in a class where the instructor posed to us a series of experiments and challenges to carry out in the studio – mine was to make something that someone could smell rather than see. What struck me during the critiques was that everyone in the class associated tobacco with big advertising or corporate greed, whereas I had been thinking about ceremony, or offerings, because I was raised doing those things with tobacco. After that first work, I just became very interested in why my family and other Indigenous families use tobacco and in the material itself, the history of the plant and the way it smells and the texture of the dried leaves, and the colour of the flowers and everything. I grew twenty plants in my studio under grow lights over the winter. My whole studio was filled with these plants in buckets and they bloomed in January. I grew more [plants] up around my reading chair in the window and I used to do my reading up there surrounded by them.

I am drawn to your relationship with tobacco because of how seamlessly the political fuses with the personal.  When you mention growing tobacco plants in your studio and around your reading chair, I started thinking about the tobacco plants as a kind of multifaceted energetic field, if you will. Tobacco is also known to have held economic properties in Indigenous communities. What have these ideas led you to – both inside and outside your practice?

The way that tobacco circulates as an offering or a gift can be understood as – and I’m reducing the complexity for sake of this interview – part of a “gift economy”. I don’t like that term necessarily, as it is used by anthropologists and I do not think anthropologists have really understood what is happening in non-European economic systems. But I am using it here because if one wanted to, they could google and get a sense of what I am talking about. A term I think is more appropriate is Indigenous economy, and I have also heard the term kinship economy used. When I began to think about the way I was taught to use tobacco I realized that it was this way that the Indigenous economy has survived into my own life – me, a Metis person living in the city. Despite the fact that colonial governments have used very extreme measures to impose capitalism onto Indigenous people, our economy has survived, and it poses a living alternative to capitalism and a threat to capitalism.

Do you feel that tobacco acts as a signifier of collective memory in your work?

I haven’t thought of it that way but I suppose it must. I actually have almost no sense of smell, though I can smell strong scents like tobacco, But I don’t have that thing where a scent triggers memory. I think the smell of tobacco for people though is very quick to bring up memories and associations. I think depending on people’s cultural relationships with the plant, the works can definitely trigger big feelings and big ideas. The first work I made, the flag Orinoco Note, its shape is so blank, although the dimensions are very particular in the end it’s just a rectangle, and I think the power of something so spare is that people have a field where they can then think about whatever they want.

How might your use of tobacco take shape or morph in your upcoming exhibition at MoMA? How do you feel your relationship with the material has changed since your earlier projects?

I’m making a great big bunny. I think I’m just more comfortable with the material. But I don’t want to get too comfortable, I like to keep pushing the forms, experimenting, seeing what else I can do. I became very interested in rabbits as these animals that have been really derogated because of their association with sexuality and reproduction. In my mind they became this symbol of how reproductive labor and Indigenous labor has been made invisible, has been disciplined, outlawed and demonized.

In the past, I am thinking specifically of Money at UNIT 17, your bunnies have been interpreted as emblems of alternative economies. Can you speak to this a bit more and how they started emerging in your work? 

The bunnies came from a project I did with Chandra Melting Tallow, Jeneen Frei Njootli, and Tania Willard – all of whom are artists who are interested in Indigenous economies. Jeneen does amazing work about the sewing practices in her family and Tania has made beautiful work about gifting. We wanted to make a film about rabbit hunting, an Indigenous economic practice that is feminized and often overlooked. I became very interested in rabbits as these animals that have been really derogated because of their association with sexuality and reproduction. In my mind they became this symbol of how reproductive labor and Indigenous labor has been made invisible, has been disciplined, outlawed and demonized. So I became interested instead of holding up the rabbit and celebrating the way they multiply, giving outward rather than accumulating.

The project you are mentioning — Coney Island Baby was filmed during a December excursion to BUSH Gallery on the territory of the Secwépemc Nation – in the interior of British Columbia. I mention BUSH Gallery because of its particularly unique mission as a trans-conceptual gallery space – which requires “the body to be in a constant state of flux”. These more innovative approaches to gallery spaces are interesting because they are able to capture the energy of a temporary coalition without becoming themselves a lethargic institutionalized network. As a member and former resident of BUSH Gallery, what do you feel is the most important aspect of these spaces? And if at all, how do you interpret this dichotomy between institution and trans-conceptual space?

For me, what is most important about BUSH gallery is the friendships between the members and collaborators. I think because we approach BUSH gallery intentionally as this place that is led by the land or centred around the land, and it is not focused on production or individual egos, or art business, that influences the way we act when we are there. It is very intentionally about working together to take care of food, cleaning, kids, as well as the art and the ideas. The other most important thing about BUSH gallery is that it is about opening up your self to learning, thinking, and living in new ways. This has been extremely influential on my practice and my life in general.

In an interview with Chandra Melting Tallow, Jeneen Frei Njootli, and Tania Willard for C Magazine about Coney Island Baby, you mention that the project made you think about how the work was being created through motion. In the context of the film and trapping rabbits, the peripatetic process of working and thinking through movement makes for an interesting lead.  How does this peripatetic method permeate in your thinking and working process?

I have to admit that I know very little about the peripatetic method, which is funny considering how much I talk about it! But I did start thinking at one point that the academic model of thinking was both logically and physically mired in the current economic mode, i.e. capitalism. And I thought maybe making art is a more open ended way of thinking or learning. And yes, it’s often peripatetic, the way I make art, but additionally making art is a way of thinking that is not always based in language or in written language, so I feel that it’s likely that it makes your brain function or fire in a different way. I realize that art as we understand it itself is a product of capitalism, yet I still think there is this potential for me there to step outside of prescribed ways of thinking or experiencing things.

Your series entitled Spells is interesting within this line of thinking. The works begin as sheets of paper coated in tobacco-infused Crisco oil and throughout several months they dry. During this period, you gather an array of ephemera from your neighborhood to sew into the Spell and from there the topography of the work begins to take shape. What do you make of the suggestion that the Spells act as kinds of coded landscapes and the larger implications and rejections that they might suggest?

Yes, I’d say that is true. I mean literally sometimes I am thinking of a place, or a kind of place, when I make them. I am thinking about how fences in the city have things hanging or caught up on them – shirts, gloves, keys, and some newspaper maybe. Or I’m drawing a particular view that I remember one summer night laying out on a dirt road with a friend looking at stars. Or I’m thinking of what the sunset looks like in a certain part of town that I walk through often. And because I use all these little objects that I pick up walking around, I think those things are tied to places and so conjure place. I’m not suggesting the rejection of anything, though I don’t like to see the places I know disappear. Wait, I guess sometimes the spells are also rejections, like I want to get rid of something and the drawing is about that. But they’re more often made in order to hold on to something.

The project you are mentioning — Coney Island Baby was filmed during a December excursion to BUSH Gallery on the territory of the Secwépemc Nation – in the interior of British Columbia. I mention BUSH Gallery because of its particularly unique mission as a trans-conceptual gallery space – which requires “the body to be in a constant state of flux”. These more innovative approaches to gallery spaces are interesting because they are able to capture the energy of a temporary coalition without becoming themselves a lethargic institutionalized network. As a member and former resident of BUSH Gallery, what do you feel is the most important aspect of these spaces? And if at all, how do you interpret this dichotomy between institution and trans-conceptual space?

For me, what is most important about BUSH gallery is the friendships between the members and collaborators. I think because we approach BUSH gallery intentionally as this place that is led by the land or centred around the land, and it is not focused on production or individual egos, or art business, that influences the way we act when we are there. It is very intentionally about working together to take care of food, cleaning, kids, as well as the art and the ideas. The other most important thing about BUSH gallery is that it is about opening up your self to learning, thinking, and living in new ways. This has been extremely influential on my practice and my life in general.

In an interview with Chandra Melting Tallow, Jeneen Frei Njootli, and Tania Willard for C Magazine about Coney Island Baby, you mention that the project made you think about how the work was being created through motion. In the context of the film and trapping rabbits, the peripatetic process of working and thinking through movement makes for an interesting lead.  How does this peripatetic method permeate in your thinking and working process?

I have to admit that I know very little about the peripatetic method, which is funny considering how much I talk about it! But I did start thinking at one point that the academic model of thinking was both logically and physically mired in the current economic mode, i.e. capitalism. And I thought maybe making art is a more open ended way of thinking or learning. And yes, it’s often peripatetic, the way I make art, but additionally making art is a way of thinking that is not always based in language or in written language, so I feel that it’s likely that it makes your brain function or fire in a different way. I realize that art as we understand it itself is a product of capitalism, yet I still think there is this potential for me there to step outside of prescribed ways of thinking or experiencing things.

Your series entitled Spells is interesting within this line of thinking. The works begin as sheets of paper coated in tobacco-infused Crisco oil and throughout several months they dry. During this period, you gather an array of ephemera from your neighborhood to sew into the Spell and from there the topography of the work begins to take shape. What do you make of the suggestion that the Spells act as kinds of coded landscapes and the larger implications and rejections that they might suggest?

Yes, I’d say that is true. I mean literally sometimes I am thinking of a place, or a kind of place, when I make them. I am thinking about how fences in the city have things hanging or caught up on them – shirts, gloves, keys, and some newspaper maybe. Or I’m drawing a particular view that I remember one summer night laying out on a dirt road with a friend looking at stars. Or I’m thinking of what the sunset looks like in a certain part of town that I walk through often. And because I use all these little objects that I pick up walking around, I think those things are tied to places and so conjure place. I’m not suggesting the rejection of anything, though I don’t like to see the places I know disappear. Wait, I guess sometimes the spells are also rejections, like I want to get rid of something and the drawing is about that. But they’re more often made in order to hold on to something.

I have been thinking that in some ways the pandemic has highlighted that many of us think, create and write in a much less linear way than we might have previously imagined. It feels like an exciting and fruitful revelation. How has the pandemic shifted your way of operating, creating and existing both in and outside of practice? 

My kid was around 8 months old when the pandemic hit, and I’m a single parent, so things were bananas before and are still bananas. Everything has felt like a dream — like hazy and surreal and hard to keep track of — since I had her. I would say she has changed my way of creating and existing much more than the pandemic. I remember being pregnant and I would walk everyday through the snow to the studio, and I was nauseous and incredibly tired and it would be so so hard to get anything done. Now I get one studio day a week, I’m there 9-430 and I get so much done! And I love it so much – I feel so lucky to have that time to myself.

To view the full article visit Public Parking.

For more information about Gabrielle l’Hirondelle Hill please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Tau Lewis Reviewed in Brooklyn Rail

December 2, 2020

Tau Lewis’ solo exhibition at Cooper Cole is reviewed in Brooklyn Rail by Lillian O’Brien Davis.

Tau Lewis, <em>Opus (The Ovule)</em>, 2020. Various recycled and hand dyed fabrics, recycled leather, acrylic paint, recycled polyester batting, jute, metal frame, PVA glue, secret objects, safety pins, metal hooks, wire, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Cooper Cole Gallery.

Tau Lewis’s work transcends the medium of craft. Lewis’s most recent body of work, Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls (T.A.U.B.I.S) demonstrates a new chapter in the development of a still-young artist. Emotionally intelligent and technically sophisticated, this body of work represents a period of intense production for Lewis. Over the period of a year, Lewis created the realm of the T.A.U.B.I.S. (pronounced /taʊ /beez) to explore desires for abundance, safety, deep roots, and justice.

T.A.U.B.I.S. is imbued with an ambition, confidence and a joy that exceeds the confines of a material category such as craft. The hand-dyed, reclaimed household materials such as curtains, bedsheets, blankets, towels, and clothing are colored with warm hues of pink and orange that resemble the interior of a light-filled womb. With this work, Lewis reflects on non-gendered motherhood—as well as gardens—as sources of knowledge and growth. Her sculptural textiles tell the story of an irresistible aliveness rooted in the black, fertile soil of time. In a moment of seemingly endless death and loss as we contend with the relentless public murder of Black and Brown people at the hands of police and the waves of grief related to the loss of life as a result of COVID-19, Lewis chooses to revel in life.

Manifestations of life, hand-sewn floral blossoms strung on loose strands of fabric and leather extend from and surround each of the sculptures. Like tendrils of connection linking to the wider world, the blossoms crawl along the floor of the main gallery to greet the audience. Larger than life with full lips and a serene expression, Symphony (2020) floats above eye level with long, thin arms and wide, open hands extending outward, covered in ropes of fabric flowers. The sculpture’s arms extend away from its body and two floral nipples firmly jut out from their chest, inferring both a source of nourishment and the pulse of a beating heart. Sensual and tender, the nipple is alert and hardened—a sign of life. Tucked in the corner of the lower level of the main gallery and seated on a chair, Delight (2020) invites a closer look, hands extending outwards and reaching for the viewer while protecting a protruding belly reminiscent of the taut roundedness of a pregnant womb.

Within Lewis’s creative womb, the protective qualities of motherhood offer a safe and nurturing reprieve from the horrors outside. Finally, Opus (The Ovule) (2020), a sculpture of a massive head with an even larger tongue, is housed in a basement storage unit next door, and takes up almost all the available space. The imposing size of the sculpture, paired with its massive, lolling tongue, evokes a sense of both largess and vulnerability, and is only accessible via the watchful guidance of a gallery attendant and their key. The extended tongue suggests the implicit trust of a body that refuses to retract into itself, that is unafraid to take up space while exposing its tender muscles. With an excess of references to life, Lewis’s impassioned attention to care resists the existential threat of death.

This exhibition positions Lewis within a rich lineage of other Black female artists who work with fabric and found objects, calling to mind Faith Ringgold’s story quilts, Rosie Lee Tompkins’s improvisational quilting and even Betye Saar’s mystical assemblages. The utilitarian and subversive medium of found-fabric sculpture utilizes fragments to tell stories of resistance—such as the history of enslaved people using quilts as a form of artistic expression harkening back to traditions of African textiles—or to engage with craft to bring “women’s work” into the contemporary art context, like feminist quit artists Lee Tompkins, Ringgold, or even Canadian artist Joyce Weiland.1 Like these artists, Lewis’s work possesses a seductive handmade-ness—an unfiltered accessibility speaking to the irrepressible life of the continued resistance of Black and Brown people.

To view the full article visit Brooklyn Rail.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Tau Lewis Reviewed in Colossal

November 30, 2020

Tau Lewis’ solo exhibition at Cooper Cole is reviewed in Colossal by Grace Ebert.

Suspended Blossoms and Patchwork Characters Imagine a Pastel Universe of Overabundance

Considering the possibilities of non-gendered motherhood, Toronto-born artist Tau Lewis stitches together oversized characters and floral tendrils that occupy a lavish fictional world. Textured swatches of fabric transform stark gallery space into pastel gardens and the idyllic universe of the “T. A. U. B. I. S.,” or the bulging-eyed creature with a protruding tongue shown above. Teeming with themes of compassion, joy, and freedom, the sprawling works evoke birth and the warmth of a womb filled with light.

Part of the collection titled Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls—which closed last week at Toronto’s Cooper Cole—Lewis’s installations imagine an environment centered around abundance, which she explains:

Mutable and devoid of gender, they transmute into blossoms. Every blossom embodies a soul who is alive and listening. T.A.U.B.I.S. blossoms grow year-round, uni-wide, even in most harsh weather and on most hostile planets. The T.A.U.B.I.S communicate and collect intel through these blossoms.

A self-taught artist based in Brooklyn, Lewis hand-dyes vintage curtains, bed sheets, blankets, towels, and clothing that she sews into quilts and looming sculptural figures. Her body of work generally explores multiple facets of trauma and the ways manual labor can provide healing. From the textiles gathered throughout Toronto, New York, and her family’s home in Negril, Jamaica, Lewis patches together representations of community members and ancestors. “The transformative act of repurposing these materials recalls practices of resourcefulness in diasporic contexts; upcycling is a recuperative act that reclaims both agency and memory,” she says in a statement.

To view the full article visit Colossal.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

In Conversation with Tau Lewis

November 21, 2020

Tau Lewis in conversation with Magdalyn Asimakis about her current exhibition Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls.

 

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Tau Lewis Reviewed in Akimbo

November 6, 2020

Tau Lewis’ Exhibition Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls is reviewed in Akimbo by Kaya Joan.

Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate SoulsTau Lewis’s solo exhibition at Cooper Cole,​ is a portal into another universe. As stated in the exhibition text, the artist “​created the realm of the T.A.U.B.I.S. (pronounced /taʊ /beez) to explore desires for abundance, safety, deep roots, and justice.​” She does this through three room-sized textile sculptures representing ethereal beings, surrounded by blossoms, that occupy the gallery’s main space, basement, and storage unit.

Just beyond the entrance,
the being ​Symphony​ floats,
emitting deity energy,
with long strands of fabric flowers blooming around and under them like roots grounded in the space,
adorned with a flowing garment that reflects the bounty of safety and care T.A.U.B.I.S. holds.
They embody tenderness through their soft oranges and browns,
a feeling that continues into the basement, where ​Delight​ sits in a corner,
beckoning approach with a flower strand around their finger,
acting as another conduit between worlds.

The Ovule​ in the storage unit is the final portal into the world of T.A.U.B.I.S,
with a massive tongue extended,
commanding the room.

T.A.U.B.I.S emanates throughout the gallery through long leather strips of folded fabric blossoms hanging from the ceiling and around the beings – functioning as navigational devices, collecting intel, directly responding to movement in the space. Their animation means T.A.U.B.I.S is not just an imagined place. It is a pedagogy, a language of love, a way to be in a relationship with place and self.

Just as we carry all the stories of our ancestors in our bodies, transforming those stories and projecting new ones into the future, Lewis shapes an abundant diversity of material into a universe rich in joy and well-being for her community and kin.

Her beings are an assemblage of organic shaped panels of hand-dyed, upcycled household fabrics
encoded with the protocol of T.A.U.B.I.S.,
carefully hand sewn,
as one stitches together
quilt,
home,
future,
universe.

To view the full article please visit Akimbo.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

In Conversation with Chrysanne Stathacos for Art Basel OVR: 20C

November 3, 2020

Chrysanne Stathacos spoke about the work she made in the 1990s for Art Basel’s OVR: 20C, which is dedicated to work made in the 20th century.

For more information about Chrysanne Stathacos please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Kara Hamilton featured on Dezeen

October 30, 2020

Kara Hamilton’s “We the People” series for Salon 94 is featured in Dezeen.

Election Pins by Kara Hamilton & Salon Design

Six Designs to Encourage Voting in 2020 US Presidential Election

Election Pins by Kara Hamilton & Salon Design: Canadian Artist Kara Hamilton and Salon 94 Design teamed up with luxury retailer The Webster to create five voting-themed brass clothing pins.They include two fingers that form the letter V, Lady Liberty crown with vote written beneath and the letters US wrapped in chains. All proceeds go to FairVote and Earthjustice Action.

To view the full article visit Dezeen.

For more information about Kara Hamilton please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Kara Hamilton Featured in CBC Arts

October 29, 2020

Kara Hamilton’s “We the People” series for Salon 94 is featured on CBC Arts.

South of the border, “vote” is the word in fall fashion, and you can find those four letters slapped on $50 T-shirts, over-the-knee boots and designer face masks. “Vote Merch is Officially Fall 2020’s Most Popular Fashion Trend,” InStyle declared in September, a month after Michelle Obama’s V-O-T-E charm necklace went viral at the Democratic National Convention. And the internet’s awash in articles about where to buy the same statement-making gear worn by Oprah or Hailey Bieber: hoodies and pendants and tote bags emblazoned with some variation of the verb.

There’s something profoundly American about making a shopping event out of the democratic process. But the most brilliant (or cynical) twist in the whole vote/voting/voter merch phenom is how the singular joy of buying stuff is now a strategy to get folks to the polls. The most covetable items tend to benefit a cause, usually a non-partisan org for boosting civic engagement. When We All Vote, one of the more notable examples, drives voter registration by harnessing the hype of a product drop. (Meredith Koop, Michelle Obama’s stylist, is the creative advisor.) Score an exclusive Marc Jacobs sweatshirt or pair of crew socks from Brother Vellies (the brand of Toronto-raised designer Aurora James), and a QR code linking to registration info is printed somewhere on the product.

Right on trend, it would seem, is We The People, a series of election pins by the Toronto-based artist Kara Hamilton. And indeed, The Strategist (New York magazine’s shopping site) praised one of her brass brooches as being “genuinely nice-looking, non-cheesy vote merch.” Sold through the gallery Salon 94, all proceeds from the collection benefit two non-profits: FairVote, a non-partisan organization for electoral reform, and Earthjustice Action. And the series, which includes one-of-a-kind items and limited-edition multiples, is undeniably political, though a bit more abstract in its messaging than, say, an Old Navy graphic tee.

Among the collection’s more straightforward statements, there’s a pin in the shape of a house — gooey brass flames shooting up the side of it. In the centre, Hamilton’s bent a thin rod of metal to read “vote.” It’s open to interpretation, of course, but a literal house on fire sure reads like a nod to the moment. When the acting president is sowing doubt about mail-in ballots and side-stepping questions about the peaceful transfer of power, a word like “vote” isn’t exactly neutral anymore — which might account for the “vote merch” zeitgeist in the first place.

“Vote” appears on several more of Hamilton’s pieces, too. It’s splashed across a screaming mouth, a rainbow, a cloud of fire, weeping birds. “My two favourite issues, and probably the most important issues, are climate justice and election justice,” says the artist.

Big, gooey teardrops hang from almost every pin. “I started to think about tears because of the way I’m feeling, probably.” But Hamilton says they’re just as much a reference to blood or sweat or COVID-spreading airborne droplets. “There is an explicit message, I think, with most of the pins, although some people have had questions like, ‘What does the crying daisy mean?'” (The short answer, she says, is global warming.)

“I wanted to make things that responded to ideas that wouldn’t necessarily end after the election.” Still, it’s the current presidential race that prompted the series.

Based in Toronto, where her exhibition Water in Two Colours appeared at the Art Gallery of Ontario last year, Hamilton has strong ties to the States. She spent 20 years in the country and studied sculpture at Yale. “I’m a dual citizen. I moved back here a number of years ago now, but I was getting super frustrated with not being able to feel active and participate in the demise of American culture,” she says, chuckling. “And so I just thought I could put the tools that I know to work, and make quote-unquote election pins.”

Living in Canada, it’s definitely going to affect me, the outcome of this election.– Kara Hamilton, artist

Hamilton’s long produced wearable work, typically using salvaged metal to fashion rings and necklaces and crowns. “I’m a sculptor, but I always have had this kind of adjacent jewelry practice,” she says. “Critical decoration” is her word for it — “meaning critical as necessary and critical as analytical.” And as political fashion statements go, pins are an especially traditional format. “The whole idea of a pin or a brooch is sort of exercising an opinion of sorts,” says Hamilton, though she says she wasn’t picturing a specific consumer when designing We the People. The project started as something way more personal: “I just knew that I would want to wear one.”

That said, the collection’s promotional posters star a variety of ordinary Americans, all wearing Hamilton’s pins. A collaboration with the photographer Katy Grannan (an old school friend), the portraits were shot in Newburgh, N.Y., earlier this fall. Grannan sought to capture folks on both sides of the political divide, though their leanings aren’t revealed in the images. Republican or Democrat, Hamilton says all the participants were on board with the project’s basic message: vote.

To make the photos, Hamilton crossed into the States to join Grannan on location, but being a Canadian visitor was a non-issue on the shoot. “I don’t know if I talked about it that much,” she says. “I don’t think I would be doing this if I was only Canadian. […] But now that I’m living in Canada, it’s definitely going to affect me, the outcome of this election. Climate change is the perfect example: it doesn’t stop at the border.”

“I feel like any way to spread the word is important at this point. It feels sort of critical.”

To view the full article please visit CBC Arts.

For more information about Kara Hamilton please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Tau Lewis Featured on Art Viewer

October 29, 2020

Tau Lewis is featured on Art Viewer for her solo exhibition at Cooper Cole.

For this presentation, Lewis has created the realm of the T.A.U.B.I.S. (pronounced /taʊ /beez) to explore desires for abundance, safety, deep roots, and justice. Since last year, the artist has been hand dyeing reclaimed household materials such as curtains, bed sheets, blankets, tow-els, and clothing into these warm, pastel palettes that are meant to resemble a light-filled womb. These hand-sewn sculptural textiles reflect on non-gendered motherhood and gardens as sources of knowledge and growth. This exhibition tells a story of joy, freedom, and triumphant love.

“The T.A.U.B.I.S. act as the judicial sector of the universe. Lawmakers and enforcement Uni-wide must seek T.A.U.B.I.S. consent. Motherly, intimidating and tall, the T.A.U.B.I.S. have the gift of foresight.

Tasked with regulating the moral compass of the universe, souls inducted into the T.A.U.B.I.S have lived lives to the fairest and most compassionate of their ability. Ascension to the T.A.U.B.I.S after death is an institution bearing a resemblance to sainthood on Earth. A prospect for any soul belonging to any honourable conscious life-form, regardless of planetary designa-tion, class, species or religion.

Mutable and devoid of gender, they transmute into blossoms. Every blossom embodies a soul who is alive and listening. T.A.U.B.I.S. blossoms grow year-round, uni-wide, even in most harsh weather and on most hostile planets. The T.A.U.B.I.S communicate and collect intel through these blossoms.

Continuation of the T.A.U.B.I.S. is contingent upon the safeguarding of the Ovule. The Ovule is an information bank and power source. The Ovule registers, sorts, and disperses data collected via T.A.U.B.I.S. blossoms to the unified T.A.U.B.I.S. consciousness. It Is at once all seeing and incapacitated. The Ovule is watched over by a group of three T.A.U.B.I.S. ordained as the Gy-noecium. The Gynoecium entertain the Ovule with songs and theatricals, massage it, and feed it. Once a cycle the Gynoecium rotates. The Ovule extends its tongue and its caregivers crawl into it’s mouth. They are absorbed into T.A.U.B.I.S. consciousness and a new Gynoecium is selected.” – Tau Lewis

Left to the Discretion of the T.A.U.B.I.S

In the beginning there was a florid pulsar’s scorching light birthing a singularity
spreading its webbed fingers.
a trail of knowledge bunching into colonies
which budded

bulging in the gaps between planets.

At first there was filament in the silence then there was motion breaking the dark
shouting
then music. songs

of things yet to happen to be decoded transcribed.

Soft spoken
all-seeing
motherly lords
nursing neon clouds, bubbling oceans, primordial wonder, electrified winds

division

in the collective mouths of Harmony,
of the T.A.U.B.I.S. –

champions clad in fat
gold velvety trimmings which
while tugging hanging orbs
recorded names and memories in the creases of their outstretched palms.

these scribes’
multi-pronged scales over world-domes tugged by lustrous vines hum like slow
cymbals crashing

peace in the void, resting matter, sweetly heavy eyes.

Heliacal blooms kiss and shield like nanny-eyed Grace
tints passages of sound and color with inexhaustible Love.

We sleep tenderly in refractions of strobing light as our overseer’s benevolent
reach
denting time
haloing Goodness in a dawning gloss

over all we can fathom like gauze.

All knowing arms encase life everlastingly.

Honeyed pedals in the dark humming bliss
bestriding gravity into giant’s crusts .

Divinity.

Birthed on polychrome plages shouting
echoes spanning horizons everywhere
heard like cooing through engines of light
wafts like wings through the cosmos.
Harbingers refracted through ever-knotting bands of becoming.

The T.A.U.B.I.S.
rooted in the black, fertile soil of time

filing quintessence in illustrious libraries – in their bodies.

– Yves B. Golden

To view the full post visit Art Viewer.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Kara Hamilton Featured on Art in America

October 21, 2020

Kara Hamilton’s “We the People” series for Salon 94 is featured on Art in America.

 

 

I used to look forward eagerly to election night, when I was a kid. My parents, not normally ones for throwing parties, opened up our house every four years. It didn’t matter to me who won, I just loved the decorations, especially the board of old election pins whose obscure slogans—Give ‘Em Hell Harry, I Like Ike, All the Way with LBJ—seemed to me like ancient runes. I think back on these events, today, as we hurtle toward a presidential election of unusual significance, trying somehow, as Jesse Jackson put it during his own campaign for president in 1988, to keep hope alive.

What’s helped me to do that, in recent days, is another collection of election pins. They are the work of Toronto-based artist Kara Hamilton, best known for her sculptures featuring pieces of concrete, brass instruments, and other found objects. Hamilton was originally trained as an architect, and often places her works in purposeful dialogue with the built environment, describing them as “jewelry for buildings” or “critical decoration.” She also makes actual jewelry, a practice that she’s been able to maintain during the coronavirus lockdown.

With the election looming, it occurred to Hamilton that making pins might be a way to engage politically. As a medium of communication, campaign buttons have been swept into the desk drawer of history, rendered obsolescent by social media and other online platforms. But for Hamilton, that made the genre all the more attractive. She wanted to reinvent it, transcending its ephemerality, using it to speak not to the fraught exigencies of the moment, but to the American political condition as such.

With this in mind, she set to work, carving a series of designs in pink wax and then casting them in brass. The aesthetic she arrived at was impromptu, gestural. Hamilton typically recycles her metal from castoff jewelry and other junk-store finds, melting it down and giving it new form. Her aesthetic is informed by this process of making; it takes cues from the sprues (the metal left in the channels that enter and exit a mold) and other detritus that litter her workbench.

The pins’ materiality thus speaks to the idea of transformation. So, too, their lettering and imagery. Though executed in a manner that recalls the pop graphics of Corita Kent or Milton Glaser, the messaging tends toward the recondite. Yes, there is a pin that reads FUCK TRUMP—how could there not be?—as well as a few obvious allusions to the Statue of Liberty, the importance of TRUTH, and the simple injunction to VOTE. But most of the pins have abstruse motifs, reminiscent of Surrealism: a house on fire, a mouth spewing liquid, an eye with rays shooting out of it. Tears are a recurrent theme, rolling forth from an eagle, a bumblebee, an elephant, a flower. Also repeated throughout the work are the letters “US,” referring at once to America, and to those who live in it together.

Hamilton gave the overall project the title “We the People.” At the outset, she determined that all proceeds from the sale of the pins (via Salon 94 gallery in New York) would go to charitable causes: FairVote and the Earthjustice Action Center. And that would have been that—except then it wasn’t. Enter Katy Grannan, the celebrated photographer, who has been a close friend of Hamilton’s since the two women attended graduate school at Yale some twenty-five years ago. They had never collaborated before, and here was a chance. They would bring the pins to life through Grannan’s signature strategy: making intimate portraits of complete strangers.

The first time Grannan did this, in the late 1990s, she made contact with her subjects through newspaper advertisements, and over the course of her career, she has retained an interest in unlikely encounters. She says that photography, for her, “is almost an excuse to engage with people.” She has also introduced other forms of connection. In her series “The 99” (2014), for example, the common thread is a road. She reprised the Depression-era technique of Dorothea Lange, traversing California’s Central Valley from town to derelict town along Highway 99, making portraits in the scorching midday heat, building a collective picture of a desperate, intense, and somehow heroic stretch of America.

For the photographs in support of “We the People,” Hamilton and Grannan chose Newburgh, New York, as their shooting location. It’s one of those rough-and-ready Hudson River Valley towns that boomed for decades before finally going bust, as the local manufacturing and shipping industries faded away. Today it contains multitudes: a diverse population, about half Latinx, a quarter Black, the remainder white and Asian-American. Democrats outnumber Republicans about two to one. There is economic deprivation in Newburgh, but a few factories still operate there, and others have been converted into artists’ studios, indicating a nascent wave of gentrification. Newburgh is also a place of historic importance, having been Washington’s headquarters during the last year of the Revolutionary War.

Against this backdrop, Grannan and Hamilton set out looking for conversation—and they found it. The pictures, taken in the midst of the pandemic, at about the midpoint between George Floyd’s killing by police and the November election, capture America at a tipping point. Each conversation began with an unprompted overture on the street, in circumstances laced with the dread of communicable disease. (Adding to the sense of crisis, Grannan had to keep checking on her house in California, which was threatened by wildfires.) The people the two artists met in Newburgh didn’t speak much about the presidential election itself, but the many challenges of the moment, and their own sense of what it was to be American. Grannan and Hamilton would offer a range of pins to wear, sometimes singly, sometimes in clusters, like so many medals. Just as they intended, the resulting images convey not a single political message, but many variants of patriotism, as individual as the people themselves.

Grannan and Hamilton were able to include at least one Trump supporter in the project, a first-generation Italian immigrant who had operated a garment manufactory most of his life. (When his business went under, he blamed Bill Clinton and NAFTA, and he’s voted Republican ever since.) Grannan shows the man shielded by a glass door, which he holds ajar—as if he were being canvassed for his vote. He looks skeptical, but willing to listen. A timeworn PULL sign is positioned right in front of his eyes, as if voicing the question that hovers in the photograph: when contrary opinions meet, is there any chance of a shift in position?

At the other end of the opinion spectrum was a Black fashion designer who had partly burnt an American flag and then fashioned it into a top. Grannan thought she looked like the Statue of Liberty, and posed her accordingly in one picture. In another, the young woman has her head held high, bandana wrapped around her lower face, peering out at the wild blue yonder. The pin she chose for the image shouts NO.

Looking at these pictures, I think back to the campaign buttons my parents brought out every four years. I think of the sense of urgency that once attached to them and eventually dissipated: words going in one ear of the body politic and out the other. In 2020, a year fired by protest, it can be hard to adopt that long view; to remember that most of our outrages will be another generation’s half-remembered trivia; that the truly important thing is civic culture itself. Hamilton’s pins will never be obsolete, because they are merit badges for democratic engagement itself. FUCK TRUMP? Absolutely. He has been uniquely destructive to America’s political system, which is based on reasonable and informed debate, in which we all have an equal voice. But even more important, TRUTH. US. And VOTE.

To view the full article please visit Art in America.

For more information about Kara Hamilton please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

In Conversation with Brie Ruais for Frieze London

October 16, 2020

Brie Ruais spoke about her new work for Frieze London 2020.

 

For more information about Brie Ruais please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

In Conversation with Rachel Eulena Williams: on Challenging Colour, Form, and Art History

October 15, 2020

To look down the sea, 2020.
Acrylic, dye, canvas, and rope on wood panels
170.2 x 279.4 cm.

COOPER COLE artist Rachel Eulena Williams works at the boundaries between painting and sculpture. Her reconfigured canvases unbind painting from the stretcher, avoiding conventional support systems and imagining a myriad of spatial contortions. Her evident interest in colour represents a liberation from, and criticality of, Western art history’s othering of colour, and categorizing it as unruly, foreign, and vulgar. Instead, her interest in imagining unrestrained structures exceeds those boundaries and is partially inspired by science fiction. Williams’ drawings also manipulate the way images are presented, playing with assumptions about virtuosity through abstraction.

We recently spoke to Williams about the new work she made for the exhibition HEY MARS with Scott Treleaven held at Cooper Cole.

CC: Could you tell us a bit about your process of making the works in Hey Mars? What inspired the works?

RW: My process evolved in the months that lead up to Hey Mars. I was primarily working in big batches, creating lots of dyed or painted materials that became distinctive patterns. This process allowed me to handle and connect moments in a single work or series. There were some new attempts at creating gestures and expanding space within the works, and incorporating different weight canvas along with small wooden panels led to works with marks that express movement and gesture.

CC: How do you decide on your materials?

RW: I choose my materials as they relate to the marks, shapes, and line weights I create in my own drawings. I think of it as almost imitating the process of painting with objects; transforming the materials into the drawing base. There has been an evolution in my work to include more everyday objects. I have spent time reflecting on how the objects can add to the conversation of my practice. I am really drawn to materials with their own marks and graphic abilities. The tension that is created between physical textures and flat marks brings another visual dialogue into the paint’s reaction to surface.

CC: Some of your canvas works sprawl across walls, held together with painted rope. Do you imagine them adjusting to where they are installed? Or are you specific about what the final shape is?

RW: I can’t imagine that there will be a uniformity to the installation of my works, and I think that adds to the conversation. When the work is being installed it is usually quite fun and easy, there isn’t much need for a level or string, because there is no right way for the work to exist in relation to the wall. While there is up and down they aren’t relying on a specific angle. The work has many parts that are already connected, making its right or wrongness exist only in relation to itself. That is even more exaggerated in the works that sprawl across walls in this show. There are gestures happening while the materials rely on the moments of strong relation to create their stillness. Because it is all connected, the piece is in relationship to the moments embedded in it; it exists within itself, like if a drawing was turned on its side. To me, there is no wrong way because you can see it in so many different ways especially in relation to different spaces.

CC: You have spoken before about how Western art history has affected the way weunderstand colour, how do you deal with that in your works?

RW: Colour is a story that spans across time and civilizations, and just like any history class there is a narrative lens through which it is viewed, along with which works get highlighted. There is a priority for white and lighters colors, while bright color has been viewed as unrefined. But when you open up the conversation to different civilizations over long periods in history, color, pattern, symbol and language convey specific meanings. They can be learned language or everyday ritual. The work has a purpose for introspection in addition to outward representation.

In some works I address white as the ‘norm’ or backdrop— especially as it relates to the white walls of the gallery— by thinking about how my work will converse with the neutral color palettes it is installed on. I use white to compliment, finish, and connect the work to the uniformity that blankets the pattern. The uniformity of the white beneath my work becomes part of my story; it becomes a colour in my composition that I am challenging. Noticing that and understanding that is how you understand all of art history, and understanding how we view what is ‘normal.’

CC: And you often cite David Batchelor’s text Chromophobia, which speaks about the marginalization of colour.

RW: Black abstraction has always been about colour, and that is where I think Batchelor’s argument is coming from. What if this Western idea of art and expression was flipped? It would show identity as not one thing, as something diverse and complicated. It brings me back to the white walls. We don’t notice them, and that is how we have been conditioned to see it and whiteness in society.

CC: Does your critique of colour in art history extend to shape and form?

RW: At times, the shapes will settle into traditional art historical shapes. Shields, columns, and homes. I am thinking about the future versus the idea of timeless imagery. I am really interested in the places where two very different identities meet.

CC: In some paintings, you have chosen to stay within the frame of the canvas and build up and out of the two-dimensional plane. What led you to that creative decision?

RW: I began using wood panels as a challenge. If I was in conversation with painting it felt neccesary to incorporate the traditional painting structure. At first I wanted to make them unrecognizable, which led me to the works that  sprawl across the wall. Then my work went through a subtle transformation of turning traditional painting structures into pedestals for fragments in my work. I began to see how the small moments that would break the square give the eye an entry point in the textural aspects of what could appear to be a flat surface. The buildup of layers on the panels can be much more physical, and it creates a narrative in the process of removing or shifting the sculptural elements.

CC: How does drawing factor into your practice?

RW: Drawing is really important because I imagine creating larger works as I draw. It is a process that helps me think through the relationship to the wall, for example, so I am drawing as if it is coming to life. Drawing crosses over into my prints too, on the prints I start with the small lines that you see. Then everything else flows from those lines.

CC: Could you tell us a bit about the prints you made for this exhibition? Was this your first time working in printmaking?

RW: It was not my first time working in printmaking, but it was my first time printing in color, specifically oil. I was able to learn oil monoprinting techniques in my SIP Fellowship at The Robert Blackburn printshop, which really introduced me into erasure techniques used. The works are monoprints with small moments of collage. They are made in a backwards order, starting with the fine lines to create a map for collaged elements, which are added with an erasure technique. Thinking through erasure inspired me to include intentional patches of bare paper throughout the compositions. In the erased space, I add a piece of paper with a drawing or painting to create the appearance of other dimensions.

Cooper Cole Featured on Artsy

October 10, 2020

Cooper Cole’s Frieze London Online presentation is featured in Artsy’s “15 Best Booths at Frieze London and Frieze Masters Online”.

 

 

Even the largest art fair tent would have difficulty accommodating booths for over 250 galleries. However, the silver lining—of sorts—to all the major art fairs going virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic is that spatial considerations no longer apply. While visitors to this month’s Frieze London and Frieze Masters fairs won’t be able to plop down for a break on a bench in verdant Regent’s Park as they trudge from one tent to the other, they will be able to navigate the Frieze Viewing Room platform to their hearts’ content without breaking a sweat.
The online platform for the fairs opened to VIPs yesterday and opens to the public tomorrow, running through October 16th. The offerings are typically wide-ranging: from millennia-old objects being offered by antiquities dealers at Frieze Masters to works made by emerging artists during lockdown on offer in many Frieze London virtual booths. Some galleries have opted for thematic or conceptual presentations, while others have indulged the time-honored tradition of bringing a little bit of everything. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the standout presentations are often those showcasing one or two artists, or curated around a very clear and compelling motif. Here, we take a look at some of the fairs’ must-click booths.

Toronto gallery Cooper Cole has opted for an impactful two-artist, six-work presentation that highlights formal and thematic parallels between Tau Lewis’s textile assemblages and

“Through their respective processes, these artists imbue their sculptures with agency that travels with the works; they believe them to be bodies unto themselves,” said Simon Cole, the gallery’s founder and director. “This presentation reflects on Lewis and Ruais’s common concerns with materials, the narratives they carry, and their transformative potentials.”

 

To view the full post visit Artsy.

For more information about Tau Lewis and Brie Ruais please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

G.B. Jones and Paul P. Featured on Art Viewer

October 8, 2020

G.B. Jones and Paul P. are featured on Art Viewer.

 

Artist: G.B. Jones and Paul P.

Exhibition title: Temple of Friendship

Venue: COOPER COLE, Toronto, Canada

Date: August 26 – October 3, 2020

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

Cooper Cole is pleased to present Temple of Friendship, an exhibition of collaborative work by G.B. Jones and Paul P.

In their independent practices, both Jones and P. are well recognized as drafts-people who appropriate and reposition figurative images from queer history. Devoted to the act of archiving, as both a tool and a creative conceit, they have, over the past 18 years, assembled an oeuvre of collaborative cut-and-paste collages from their copious image banks. The exhibition is titled after Natalie Barney’s so-named Neoclassical folly situated in her Paris courtyard, in which she hosted a salon for the queer demimonde in the years before the First World War.

Jones and P. are interested in ungovernable sexualities and genders, and in the history of aesthetics forged by those who were compelled to communicate and represent themselves through innuendo and codes. While their collages dwell on the queer lineage of coded language in aesthetics and attitudes, they also posit the violent and retaliatory potential of these protagonists, utilizing images and references relating to riots in Toronto precipitated by police violence: in particular, those around the bathhouse raids in 1980, and during the G20 summit in 2010. Jones and P.’s mesh of uneasy images illustrate the immemorial (and still applicable) arc of their protagonists, whether anonymous and symbolic, infamous or famous. Out of the hostile climate of youth, their inchoate anger and longing drives them underground to places where pathos and wonder mix, after which they emerge self-aware and defiant; shocking, dazzling, confusing. Symbols of invention within a world of manipulation.

Temple of Friendship follows Born Yesterday, Jones and P.’s solo exhibition at Participant Inc., New York, in 2017.

G.B. Jones (b. 1965 Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada) has acquired international acclaim for her super-8 films, zines, and proto-Riot Grrrl band Fifth Column. Active since the early 1980s, her works are milestones in independent film, publishing, and art rock, respectively, and primary sources for what later became known as Queercore. Concurrently, Jones has always been a dedicated visual artist best known for all-female reprises of Tom of Finland’s drawings. By a simple twist, hers are images of liberation freed of the fascist tendencies at work in gay male culture. Her solo exhibitions include Cooper Cole, Toronto, 2018; Tom Of Finland, G.B. Jones, Daniel Buchholz, Cologne, 1993; Feature, New York, 1991. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including: Art After Stonewall, Grey Art Gallery and Leslie-Lohman Museum, New York, 2019; Coming to Power: 25 Years of Sexually X-Plicit Art by Women, Maccarone, New York, 2016; This Will Have Been: Art, Love and Politics in the 1990s, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2012; Coming To Power: 25 Years Of Sexually X-plicit Art By Women, David Zwirner, New York, curated by Ellen Kantor, 1993. Jones lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Paul P. (b. 1977, Canada), who first came to attention in the early 2000s, has developed a wide-ranging practice centered on a series of drawings and paintings of young men appropriated from pre-AIDS gay erotica. His solo exhibitions include Morena di Luna/Maureen Paley, Hove, UK (2020); Queer Thoughts, New York, USA (2019); Lulu, Mexico City, Mexico (2019); Scrap Metal, Toronto, Canada (2015); and The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2007). His group exhibitions include Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2014); Les paris sont ouverts, Freud Museum, London (2011); and Compass in Hand, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009). P.’s work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Whitney Museum, among others.

Paul P. wishes to acknowledge the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council.

 

To view the full article please visit Art Viewer.

For more information about G.B. Jones and Paul P. please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

In Conversation with Sara Cwynar for Art Basel OVR:2020

October 7, 2020

Sara Cwynar spoke about her new work for Art Basel’s OVR: 2020.

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Sara Cwynar Featured in Art Review

October 3, 2020

Sara Cwynar’s Red Film is reviewed in Art Review by Chris Fite-Wassilak.

 

How to hold on to a sense of yourself in this supersaturated sensory world

Odds are, you’re reading this on a screen. Maybe it’s late, and your phone or computer’s colour-temperature app has kicked in, giving the screen an orangey-yellow tint. Or you’re staring this down on a page through glasses or contact lenses of some fashion. Maybe you’ve had corrective eye surgery, or you’re relying on the unaltered lenses you’ve already got in your eyeballs. Your LED daylight bulbs, imperceptibly dimmed, cast a cold light on the page. The point is that there’s no way for this text to reach you directly. There is no unfiltered access. This isn’t a secret, but it is something we are pretty handy at ignoring, whether it’s reading or watching a film, or, say, interacting with other humans. We’re pretending that we’re piercing through life’s layers, perceiving things properly, accurately, truly. Sara Cwynar’s short Red Film (2018) doesn’t let us ignore this: it’s all filter. Over 13 minutes, two narrators barrage us with an overlapping tangle of thoughts on beauty, visibility and experiencing ‘the new’. They speak over snippets of imagery from various stages of product development in the beauty and advertising industries: makeup factories; a photography studio teeming with shoes, perfume bottles and jewellery boxes; a set of women having makeup applied, posing or dancing; a printing press. Everything is infused with intense greens, blues and, yes, reds. “A human being, a flower, a language, all have the task of wearing colour,” one narrator states enigmatically. We live bound up in the facades and confusions of the superficial sensory world; but, Cwynar’s film seems to ask, how do we actually accept that task?

You might call Red Film an essay film, or an audiovisual collage; a heartfelt, neurotic lecture; a feminist manifesto; a jumbled, extended elevator pitch; or a surreal, ironic advertisement. Or it is all of these things. It starts off coherently enough: “I’m talking about American patterns,” a male voice promises at the start. “And French painters,” a female voice quickly adds. A set of four dancers, dressed in red outfits, fingernails painted a vibrant red, dip, bow and sway. He goes on: “I am talking about the new woman, and a pattern which was invisible to the subjects when they lived it.” But as the film quickly reels on, it turns out that’s the closest we’ll get to an explanation. We’re left awash in lush imagery and verbose, momentary insights that are offered up only to be swept away by the next, sometimes so quickly they overlap: “My mobile body makes a difference in the visible world”. “Nostalgia wears a distinctly utopian face.” A parade of bodies and products flashes by, including a rotating bottle with ‘Red Roses’ written in gold on it, filled with some viscous, vermilion liquid; a pink suede shoe; a red convertible; a woman having blush applied repeatedly to her cheek. Occasionally, Cwynar herself will appear, red-faced and apparently hanging upside down, loosely lip-synching to the voiceover. “There’s nothing you could have done differently,” she mimes badly. “You are discovering yourself.”

There’s a warm, faded tinge to all the footage, shot as it is on 16mm celluloid and transferred to digital video. The haze adds to the familiarity of how it all sweeps over you, with the glamorous nonsense of a makeup ad, and the sweeping breeziness of a car ad, and through this stream of hyperconsciousness we might be able to pluck out some sense of what we’re actually being sold. Maybe you’d be interested in a set of moisturisers and mascara that all bear the name Cezanne, or a turquoise shade of eyeliner, or an idea that starts to unravel some of the basic premises of advertising and photography. “Remember that all scanners and digital cameras have problems with highly saturated reds,” we’re told at one point. A pair of lips fills the screen, as bright red lipstick is applied with a brush. “I’m telling you that these reds are not real.” The titular colour of the film, it turns out, is a stand-in, an approximation. The realisation of this accumulates as the film progresses, as you watch Cwynar pose, deadpan, alongside a car, slowly caressing its headrests and door handles. Watching rolls of printouts of paintings being folded over each other, and then several framed paintings being wheeled out for photographing, a hand holding out a light meter in front of them, only drives it home further. We see most things indirectly, through reproductions, reprints and renditions. At one point, a woman’s hand hovers across Rubens’s Massacre of the Innocents (1612), its shadow caressing the painting. It’s not that these versions aren’t real – we are experiencing something; it’s just that all we’re ever seeing is another approximation, and that the shadow’s caress is as close as we can ever get.

Red Film is of a piece with Cwynar’s other film and photographic works: meticulously staged, dripping with analogue nostalgia, overflowing with ephemera that looks like it was forgotten in the back of your grandmother’s dresser for years. What look like mood boards for photoshoots become works in themselves, and the trappings and staging of the photoshoots become another means of framing, say, a discussion of a colour trend in Rose Gold (2017), or, as with Red Film, to try and think about how we make sense of anything in a world of appearances and hyperrealities. Cwynar manages to combine a preinternet demeanour with the overloaded feeling of social-media browsing, with snippets of imagery and opinions flying around you; some stick, some just whizz by. The emphasis on older media – the faded photographs, the 1970s font of the titles, the celluloid colour grading – also seems like a means to indicate a deliberate distance, to ask us to recognise that we, too, are situated in a particular time that will, not long from now, appear equally outdated. “Yes,” the female narrator admits, “I am looking for a shortcut through the complexity and conditions of historicity of my own age; yes, there is some nostalgia here. I’m just trying to be my best self.” Turns out your best self is made of many people anyway, as the closing credits reel off a 20-strong list of writers and thinkers whose words help make up the script: Boris Groys, Bjørnar Olsen, Susan Stewart, Sylvia Wynter and a fair chunk of psychoanalytic and postmodern bigwigs, a ventriloquist’s collage of cultural commentary.

Red Film throws us into a sea of tchotchkes and stuff, awash with competing ideas, veering between, on the one hand, an idealistic hope for a democracy of choice and abundance, and, on the other, a more cynical wariness of drowning in the deluge. During the late 1960s, Italian-born Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi devised a display system for her open-plan designs for the São Paulo Museum of Art: concrete blocks, with glass panes that would hold paintings and drawings to face the viewer, with information on the back. The idea was to force viewers to look first, but also enable most other things hung in the room to be visible at the same time, to democratise art history. Cwynar’s incessant pans over layers of postcards and photos, conveyor belts of trinket boxes and toiletry bottles, hold the same levelling impulse: we each accumulate our own museum, a concise art history of its own, in our drawers and shelves. But the relentless commercialism of Cwynar’s subjects also implies a stasis, getting stuck in all that junk. In 2001 Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas wrote a gnomic text coining the idea of ‘junkspace’, describing the sort of ad hoc mallification of landscape that was taking over, the unthought-out actuality that fills the majority of the built environment, ‘what coagulates while modernization is in progress, its fallout’. Both Bo Bardi’s pan-temporal vision and Koolhaas’s facile despair feel relevant here, not only as outdated ideas that still manage to have a pull and resonance to them, but also in describing physical spaces to be navigated, a problem that the film constantly poses: among such a jumbled accumulation, how do we each make our own way?

On the surface, Red Film seems to offer a touchy-feely solution to this in the tactile pleasures of the body. “The body is still centre, a constant measure,” we are told, as the dancers gather around one of their number, removing her red overcoat. Our final message before the film ends is simply, “The human body conserves itself. So does the society.” Though, despite this insistence, the thing that looks most fleshy, most bodily and real in this film, is the makeup: thick glops being squirted into pots on the conveyor belt, a brittle, leathery hide churning out of a machine, a tonguelike glistening slug of some product sitting on a roller. The last shot is of a splodge of thick red liquid, running slowly down a tray, like blood. This gloopy mass of dark red – burning into our retinas and still ungraspable – this, the film suggests, is our actual body, an artifice made up of shadow play, this imaginary red stuff pulsing rampant through our eyes and veins. A body, built out of superficiality, that runs on the octane fumes of the anxiety of influence, for whom wearing colour is the only task.

 

To view the full article please visit Art Review.

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Vikky Alexander Reviewed in Vie Des Arts

September 29, 2020

Vikky Alexander’s exhibition “Nordic Rock” is reviewed in Vie des Arts by Manon Blanchette.

Metaphor of materials: “Nordic Rock” by Vikky Alexander

Originally from Victoria, Vikky Alexander came into contact with minimalist and modern art very early in his career. Even today, she recalls that, when she was younger, when she visited an exhibition of Donald Judd’s works at the National Gallery of Canada, she was fascinated by the play of light on matter which caused the surface of the metal of the works seemed to him both soft and rough.

Through this experience of perception, Alexander will integrate natural light as a component of his glass sculptures. In fact, the environment in which the works are immersed creates a dialogue between three: the sculpture, the place and the visitor.

At the Darling Foundry, where she exhibits several new works, the light coming from the skylights plays on the seductive material that she has chosen to use for her sculptures. The sleek appearance of the glass here evokes the modernity dear to the artist. Activated by the reflection of light, the dichroic effect of the sculptures, depending on the angle of the gaze, gives the illusion that the furniture is floating in space and that its surfaces are painted. In  Frozen Wall (2020), for example, a link exists between the illusion of a “painted” surface and the representation of it. Particularly in his photographic works, a section of the composition reproduces the effect of glass. For the artist, this paradoxical game between illusion and representation brings to life, in a metaphorical way, the strength and power of art in society.

As part of the exhibition  In good company  at the Bradley Ertaskiran Gallery, Vikky Alexander is exhibiting two photographs,  Overpass  (2011) and  Canopy  (2011). The walls with industrial traces are opposed to works that showcase a multitude of species brought together artificially and perhaps unconsciously by botanists, in a selection process that represents colonization. You should know that in South Africa, almost all current plants were introduced by Europeans, a political gesture of power. Besides, isn’t a choice always political? These two photographs, seemingly innocuous, are part of a subversive series entitled  Island Series (2011), which, like other works by Alexander, reveals a muted and critical point.

This means that while creating installations and works that polarize the container and the content, Vikky Alexander stages works that appeal to the viewer, among others, by their seductive and airy character and by their sometimes too small scale. , sometimes too large compared to reality. In the work published during Alexander’s retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2019, Vincent Bonin argues that, at the limit, the artist would like his works to disappear completely in the “decor” so that they become mnemonic and that they act as a catalyst. This strategy once again gives art a pragmatic power that is not unlike the work of Bill Viola. By creating chaos, Viola’s works leave a latent mark in the memory, ready to intervene when the time comes to allow a fresh look at an unprecedented experience and a source of tension. For Alexander, it is through evanescence, beauty and evocation that the work takes on all its strength and meaning over time.

Precisely, the glass sculptures that Alexander presents at the Darling Foundry evoke the furniture while denying the very function of this one by its scale and its fragile material. The artist touches here on design and architecture, two sources of constant interest in his work. She says she simply wants to share her wonder in relation to a material that she experiences while transcending it to charge it with meaning.

What about feminism?

Vikky Alexander, who studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in the 1970s, is well aware of feminist trends of the time. She developed a close bond with New York and Dara Birnbaum, a committed feminist artist who taught her. The recovery of images from mass media is therefore topical. Thanks to the collage technique, Alexander takes this aesthetic on his own and integrates it into his creative process. She quickly came to re-photograph magazine images and reframe them out of their original context, thus changing their meaning and function. The strategy it implements “evokes” while “hiding”, in a back and forth game of often paradoxical meanings which forces the viewer to develop their own interpretation of the exploitation of the image of women for marketing purposes. Alexander scrambles the codes heard and defines new ones. To paraphrase Simone de Beauvoir who wrote that one is not born a woman but that one becomes one, the works of Vikky Alexander trigger this becoming.

By creating glass beds, upright chairs, tables, she takes up the scrambling she already used in the 1980s. The choice of the theme of the furniture is a metaphor for the domestic universe traditionally seen as feminine and suggests its transgression. The material, the scale and above all the colored reflection that the light creates in the space make the idea of ​​their use impossible. Artificial tones of pink, blue and purple are reminiscent of the playful modernism of the sixties and the promise of a happy life for women. In addition, the material blurs the definition of the boundaries between sculpture, photography, collage and painting effect. As long as the viewer lets himself be invaded by the play of light, the borders dance and give way to the perception of the beautiful and the attractive,

Vikky Alexander’s entire work calls for analysis. “Conceptual”, “critical” and “subversive” are qualifiers which fit very well to this immense polymorphous research of which the Nordic Rock exhibition   offers a glimpse. The works presented at the Darling Foundry will then go to New York.

To view the full article visit Vie des Arts.

For more information about Vikky Alexander please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Tau Lewis Featured in Canadian Art

September 17, 2020
Tags: News, Tau Lewis

Tau Lewis is featured in Canadian art.

Installation view of Tau Lewis’s (from centre, front) <em>Seashell</em>, <em>What in the water? (time capsule #3)</em> and <em>Making it work to be
together while we can</em> (all 2018). Courtesy Cooper Cole. Installation view 

They say we all come from somewhere. Tau Lewis’s artwork comes from our shared histories, from those Black, southern, Caribbean, continental African and diasporic micro-histories, from those risks people took to come together on the corner, in the park, in the kitchen, on the porch and on back roads.

Lewis, who collects recycled materials, textiles and found objects that she then puts into her time-intensive sewing, carving and assemblage practices, is in essence a portraitist—of nonhumans, of non-citizens, of dolls, of the socially dead, of place and space, of bewilderment. Lewis emphasizes the physical at a time when press releases bow before the screen as if it were an altar, a time when the digital forgets its own materiality, forgets those sites where it stores its clouds, forgets the dumping grounds in Africa where our electronics go to die.

Artists without formal or institutional training, like Lewis, are often anointed as novelties, tasked with bringing the primitive to the highbrow art world (think of Jean-Michel Basquiat touted as a street savant). But Lewis’s understanding of being “self-taught” is not so much about the teacher as an individual, but rather as a collective. Part of her pedagogy is to seek out her artistic predecessors while they’re still alive, talk with them, hang with them, collaborate with them—to learn with and through them. Born in 1993, Lewis is a young artist paying homage to those so-called folk, outsider, self taught and other artists who make work under and against a host of names because the art world (a euphemism for a commercial world) desperately wants to pin them down, to capture them, but can’t.

Lewis’s origins are originary, by which I mean they aren’t fixed, and can’t be: her origins move. Recycling, a mode to which Lewis is wed, is a cycle, a renewal of what would otherwise be thrown away, left behind or forgotten.

More specifically, Lewis comes to us with people before her, such as Lonnie Holley and his tire sculptures or Dinah Young and her yard work or Thornton Dial and his steel monuments or Joe Minter and his African Village in America. Or the surrealists—Aimé Césaire, Suzanne Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor—who pushed poetic counter-narratives of the present. Or Noah Purifoy, who transformed trash into wonder-deserts in a mode that Amiri Baraka might call “Black Dada.” Or Betye Saar, who forms found objects into gun-toting mammy figures. Or Faith Ringgold’s representational quilts. Or sculptures by Huma Bhabha, Diamond Stingily, Georgia Dickie or Kevin Beasley. Or maybe even the cultivated “Doll Babies” brought to life by Martha Nelson Thomas, or the “feminine monsters” of Bonnie Lucas. Or what about Lauren Halsey, who builds whole funkadelic ecosystems inside and outside galleries, making us rethink what it means to be outside an art space even while physically in it?

Lewis grew up in the urban environment of Toronto (like me) with Jamaican parentage (also like me), and what could we, I mean she, possibly have in common with these old homies, by which I mean our dear elders, Holley, Young, Dial, Minter and others, from the deep South? Well, their work, our work, is made in plain sight but also in a kind of underground. Of all these artists, one stands out. In 2019, Lewis said that Lonnie Holley is “probably my favourite artist, one of my favourite people that exists in the world.” Holley is an artist and musician born in Jim Crow–era Birmingham, Alabama, who, through densely arranged sandstone, remnants and metaphors, addresses the outlandish nightmares of America. In 2014, he described his practice to the New York Times by way of a phrase popularized by Malcolm X: “by any means necessary…. We can make art where we have to.” There’s urgency in that statement, akin to how poet and scholar Fred Moten wrote on Alabamian multidisciplinary assemblage artist Thornton Dial: “I’m here to testify not only to Thornton Dial’s greatness but also to the fact that he didn’t come from nothing. Mr. Dial has something to say; nothing will come from nothing, speak again.”

Lewis’s origins are originary, by which I mean they aren’t fixed, and can’t be: her origins move. After all, recycling, a mode to which Lewis is wed, is a cycle, a renewal of what would otherwise be thrown away, left behind or forgotten. Together, Lewis and the artists who come before and alongside her build an improvisational repository for what cannot or will not be said, an intimate evidence of the “we” from which we came, evidence that there is a “we” to begin with, and that it starts with counter-hegemonic Black creative practice.

In Lewisian fashion, with and because of Lewis, I have here compiled a small chorus of Lewis’s actual and potential co-conspirators to show some of the many lineages her work follows. Through what Holley has called “furious curiosity and biological necessity,” these artists twist circumstance and constraint to make something other than what is. This incomplete list is something like what Tonika Sealy Thompson and Stefano Harney call, following historian Walter Rodney, groundations, that particularly Caribbean mode of rigorous study of shared roots. “In the Caribbean roots do not go just into the earth,” Sealy Thompson and Harney write. “They grow out of it, radiating outwards in waves and coming to our shores in waves, in what the Barbadian poet Edward Kamau Brathwaite calls tidalectics.” Lewis makes me wonder: How are roots made through processes of dispersion, scavenging, collecting and foraging?

As with Brathwaite, Lewis’s concern is also Afro-diasporic: those Black aquatic geographies (the ocean, the sea), the instability of water’s flow, the nowness of the Middle Passage: Her Soul of the sea (2019) erodes a species divide. In Water flooded out of my heart pocket (2019), shades of denim and leather make up the oceanic and give it flesh. In What in the water? (time capsule #3) (2018), water is personified, a body of plaster, cloth, acrylic paint, foam sealant and “secret objects.” And there is the large, hand-stitched tapestry The Coral Reef Preservation Society (2019), with its jagged edges, coral growths, seahorses and cephalopods. Quilting is a rich Afro-diasporic tradition, an art of the world historical. The word “tradition” does not quite cut it because quilting is tectonic: historically significant, large-scale, constructional, processual. Its title referencing a print that hung in Lewis’s family’s home and depicted the coral reefs, fish and other sea creatures of Negril, Jamaica, The Coral Reef Preservation Society was made, patch by patch, while Lewis was on the road. Her quilt practice moves as she moves, through travel in Canada, Jamaica, the United States and England, and between art shows and fairs. Fragments are resurrectional, catching something of every location, and so each contains unique sensuous memory, aesthetic possibility, trace, haptic history and ceremony. Each of Lewis’s materials—old clothes, found photographs, the artist’s personal earrings, curtains, blankets—has had some earlier use, some known and unknown, and carries an affective history, something that Lewis has referred to as a “charge.”

Whereas Lewis’s earlier work frequently drew on harder materials such as wood, scrap metal, cement, wire, plaster, stones, paint cans, chains and rebar, her latest work relaxes further into fabric. She has been making these soft sculptures with hand-sewn fabrics, furs, leather, polyester batting and jute for years—and they seem to have gotten softer. Her soft portraits from 2019—Spore (dangerous solar particles)Thumper (heartbeat of the sun)The Octonaut (I can be my own hands to hold)Miracle of the deep sea and others—double down on sewing, patchwork, quilting and stitching. By exposing the manifoldness of her portraits, she illuminates how objects are storied: thick with imagination, gesture, the unverifiable. Her figural sculptures, in their infinite supplementarity—seashells as toenails; leather as the skin on a lip; denim as cheekbones; bright buttons as ear-canal entryways; falling, cream-coloured yarn as eyelashes—almost occlude the deep and long labour her art requires.

Layers and rips and cuts and textures and tags and tears—these are the geographies of Blackness made visible by Lewis’s touch: shaping things and feeling things, reminding us that those historically considered things have feelings too.

Written by Tiana Reid.

To view the full article please visit Canadian Art.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Sara Cwynar Featured on Financial Times

September 17, 2020

Sara Cwynar’s involvement in Art Basel’s OVR: 2020 is featured on Financial Times.

 

The lockdown time is also the focus of recent work by New York-based Canadian Sara Cwynar, with Cooper Cole, who works with photography, collage and installation. Cwynar’s vividly coloured, layered and piled constructions, using a welter of references including social media screenshots, fine art prints, news reports, advertising, images of the natural world, herself in a domestic setting and much more, build up to a commentary on our social world and in particular this exceptional moment.

 

To view the full article please visit Financial Times.

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

G.B. Jones and Paul P. Featured on Contemporary Art Daily

September 16, 2020

G.B. Jones and Paul P.’s two person exhibition Temple of Friendship is featured on Contemporary Art Daily.

Artists: G.B. Jones, Paul P.

Venue: Cooper Cole, Toronto

Exhibition Title: Temple of Friendship

Date: August 26 – October 3, 2020

Press Release:

Cooper Cole is pleased to present Temple of Friendship, an exhibition of collaborative work by G.B. Jones and Paul P.

In their independent practices, both Jones and P. are well recognized as drafts-people who appropriate and reposition figurative images from queer history. Devoted to the act of archiving, as both a tool and a creative conceit, they have, over the past 18 years, assembled an oeuvre of collaborative cut-and-paste collages from their copious image banks. The exhibition is titled after Natalie Barney’s so-named Neoclassical folly situated in her Paris courtyard, in which she hosted a salon for the queer demimonde in the years before the First World War.

Jones and P. are interested in ungovernable sexualities and genders, and in the history of aesthetics forged by those who were compelled to communicate and represent themselves through innuendo and codes. While their collages dwell on the queer lineage of coded language in aesthetics and attitudes, they also posit the violent and retaliatory potential of these protagonists, utilizing images and references relating to riots in Toronto precipitated by police violence: in particular, those around the bathhouse raids in 1980, and during the G20 summit in 2010. Jones and P.’s mesh of uneasy images illustrate the immemorial (and still applicable) arc of their protagonists, whether anonymous and symbolic, infamous or famous. Out of the hostile climate of youth, their inchoate anger and longing drives them underground to places where pathos and wonder mix, after which they emerge self-aware and defiant; shocking, dazzling, confusing. Symbols of invention within a world of manipulation.

Temple of Friendship follows Born Yesterday, Jones and P.’s solo exhibition at Participant Inc., New York, in 2017.

G.B. Jones (b. 1965 Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada) has acquired international acclaim for her super-8 films, zines, and proto-Riot Grrrl band Fifth Column. Active since the early 1980s, her works are milestones in independent film, publishing, and art rock, respectively, and primary sources for what later became known as Queercore. Concurrently, Jones has always been a dedicated visual artist best known for all-female reprises of Tom of Finland’s drawings. By a simple twist, hers are images of liberation freed of the fascist tendencies at work in gay male culture. Her solo exhibitions include Cooper Cole, Toronto, 2018; Tom Of FinlandG.B. Jones, Daniel Buchholz, Cologne, 1993; Feature, New York, 1991. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including: Art After Stonewall, Grey Art Gallery and Leslie-Lohman Museum, New York, 2019; Coming to Power: 25 Years of Sexually X-Plicit Art by Women, Maccarone, New York, 2016; This Will Have Been: Art, Love and Politics in the 1990s, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2012; Coming To Power: 25 Years Of Sexually X-plicit Art By Women, David Zwirner, New York, curated by Ellen Kantor, 1993. Jones lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Paul P. (b. 1977, Canada), who first came to attention in the early 2000s, has developed a wide- ranging practice centered on a series of drawings and paintings of young men appropriated from pre-AIDS gay erotica. His solo exhibitions include Morena di Luna/Maureen Paley, Hove, UK (2020); Queer Thoughts, New York, USA (2019); Lulu, Mexico City, Mexico (2019); Scrap Metal, Toronto, Canada (2015); and The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2007). His group exhibitions include Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2014); Les paris sont ouverts, Freud Museum, London (2011); and Compass in Hand, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009). P.’s work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Whitney Museum, among others.

Paul P. wishes to acknowledge the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council.

To view the full article please visit Contemporary Art Daily.

For more information about G.B. Jones and Paul P. please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Paul P. Featured on Art Viewer

September 16, 2020

Paul P.’s solo exhibition Gamboling Green is featured on Art Viewer.

 

Artist: Paul P.

Exhibition title: Gamboling Green

Venue: COOPER COLE, Toronto, Canada

Date: August 26 – October 3, 2020

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

COOPER COLE is pleased to present Gamboling Green, our first solo exhibition with gallery artist Paul P. A text by the artist follows:

The methodology of homosexual art can be divided into art which presents desire implicitly, the predominant form over time, and that which presents desire explicitly, a form gathering in intensity over the past hundred years, and exploding during the last fifty. I’m fascinated by both the ancient and modern methods. Sensibilities, which, in eras of criminalized homosexuality, appeared as baffling, illegible lacunae, were passed over, allowing such art and literature to elude detection and destruction. Unto themselves, my paintings and drawings replicate the function of innuendo, however these exercises in atemporality are set up to quickly come undone.

The portraits and figures of young men that define much of my practice are images appropriated from gay erotic magazines: in specific, those produced in the years bracketed by the beginning of gay liberation, and the advent of the AIDS crisis; a period of provisional freedoms. The models originate from the explicit material of desire. They are spectral. Janus-like, they look forwards and backwards from their original position in time; back to the transient wellspring of homosexual aesthetics and innuendo, and forwards to AIDS and other future tragedies, wherein aesthetic energy may lose or regain its unruly value. Their faces are reimagined to contain both the foreknowledge of their potential destruction and ulterior, ancient queer motives. Each countenance is selected from the multitudes of young men implicated in the then-outlaw publications because they appear to possess the look and feel of art. Their portraits are then systematically rendered along modes of late-nineteenth century painting and drawing; another tenuous period of aesthetic energy wherein homosexuality transformed from an act into a personality.

Having been born in 1977, my self-awareness developed in relative lockstep with the ravages of the AIDS crisis. The position of coming-after obviates nostalgia. Daniel Reich (1973-2012), my New York art dealer of ten years, shared this generational aspect. On the occasion of our final exhibition together, he wrote: “Very sadly, AIDS made for excellent television, as a cultish, sexual world exploded across dinettes and T.V. trays. Emaciated bedridden gay men with Christ-like beards entered the collective consciousness. Anyone gay of P.’s generation likely felt discomfiture during the daily AIDS report on the local news, which included footage of wards packed to capacity at St. Vincent’s, and the latest death and infection statistics. It was not illogical for viewers to conclude that to be gay was to be death -bound, and, in the view of one vociferous faction, to bear the distinction of the damned.” This distinction is not new. In a black and white photograph—all that exists of a striking painting by Glyn Warren Philpot, titled “Death Contemplating a Dandy” (1908)—a skeleton peeks around a corner to observe the supine body of a young man being ministered to with perfume and lotion by an extremely handsome barber.

Youth are the tragedians of AIDS. A young man photographed nude in 1977 is one among a decimated culture who, in alternate worlds, would have been an elder today. It is a mistake to assume that images of youth are necessarily about youth; youth has long been a cipher for homosexual desire generally. Cloaked in the guise of mythical gods, religious martyrs, effeminate aristocracy, Plato and the Classics, youth in homosexual art has been granted safe passage through time. Cyril Connolly, in 1929, wrote of “the rhetorical cry of all youth to all life, to be allowed merely to love it, to love the sphinx that breaks her lovers, to feed the hand that bites them, the indifferent hour.” The indifferent hour—that defensive posture of insouciance key to passionate youth— is allegorical of the pathologised homosexual temperament of any age.

Central to this exhibition are ink drawings of Neoclassical statues, anatomical vignettes drawn from life in museums and public gardens. Three of the drawings are shifting views of the profile of Charles René de Saint-Marceaux’s Génie gardant le secret de la tombe (Spirit Guarding the Secret of the Tomb, early 1870s). The reprise, the revisited subject, functions as a display of captured and passing time. Housed in the Musée d’Orsay, the commentary for the statue reads: “the figure is rolled around a funerary urn in a defiant attitude. Contrasting with the nude body, the veil stirred by the wind punctuates the volumes with areas of shade.” Jealously guarded secrets are a currency in Neoclassical art. Another drawing, of Mercury’s winged feet, is extracted from Hippolyte Moulin’s Secret d’en haut (A Secret From on High,1879), in which a young Mercury whispers something ribald in the ear of a herm (a bust of Hermes atop a pillar). Hermes, being the Greek god from whom the Romans fashioned Mercury, reveals the sculpture to be a depiction of the young, newer god, and his ancient effigy, locking the secret into a perpetual hermetic loop.

In Compton Mackenzie’s Vestal Fire (1927), a novel about the gay life of self-exiles on the island of Capri, Nigel, a dandified queen pronounces loudly his belief that, “the greatest poets of all never do write poetry.” Nigel’s meaning was, of course, that the implicit expression of homosexual desire was too docile and diffuse a program to warrant, and syphon, his energy. Instead, his decadence was a refusal to participate in the tangible. Nigel and his cohort of early 20th century dandies relied upon a relay of affinities across time, the filigree that encodes inclinations, the obliquity of queer rationale that, at last, did not necessarily require the effable or the plastic to perform its seditious role. They were the extremities of the implicit stratagem, after whom its usefulness waned.

Today, we might hardly recognize the defiant, desperate charge of that genus of homosexuality, and it’s subtle machinations during eras of criminalization, when assimilation was utterly unthinkable. Samuel R. Delany wrote of “a whole rhetoric of behaviour,” when attempting to elucidate the gay sensibility he discovered as a young man in New York City during the early 1960s: “At the intuitive level (i.e. that level wholly culture bound), where we feel as if, somehow, there is such a thing as a culture apart from infrastructural realities, gay society has always seemed to me an accretion of dozens of such minutiae, a whole rhetoric of behaviour – how to twist the skin off a clove of garlic, how to open the unsold box seats at Carnegie Hall with a dime, the shifting, protean, and liquid knowledge of where sex is to be found in the city this season…” (The Motion of Light in Water, 1987).

The forms and function of fantasy, particular to the eras of criminalized homosexuality that I continue to excavate, are outdated and suffer losses of practical power. Yet they remain useful examples of resistance, and reminders of the recurrence of aesthetic energy coupled with cultural tragedy. I cannot shake the paradox stated by queer theorist Leo Bersani, who lived and wrote throughout the AIDS epidemic: “Invisibly visible, unlocatably everywhere: if the gay presence is threatened by absence, it is not only because of the secret (or not so secret) intentions of those who are fascinated by gays, or even the result of the devastating work of AIDS, but also because gays have been de-gaying themselves in the process of making themselves visible” (Homos, 1995). Bersani’s essential idea about gay identity—one that vanishes when made visible—is too close to the dangers of nostalgia. However, by extension, the fecundity of the invisible is useful in considering my non-figurative paintings in this exhibition. I posit them as erotic works, equal in this respect to my figurative work. Hovering between genres of landscape and abstraction, they are, in fact, extractions of scenes of architecture in neighbourhoods of Venice, Italy; a place charged with cultural and social longing central to the history of innuendo. The paintings describe laundry hung to dry along coloured stucco alleys, bed sheets moving in the breeze, in a city known in the 19th century for unraveling the English and North American consciousness into permissiveness and seemingly violent sensualities, which today is only another symbolic echo. All roundabout analogies, devices for further picturing ephemerality and erotics, and implying the “shifting, protean, and liquid knowledge” are at work in the shadows.

Daniel Reich wrote of an earlier body of these extractive works: “foggy-yellow Hans Hoffman-like corners of Venetian buildings pass by… we seem to be perpetually hovering at second-story height zooming in too close for context, looking Dutch-angle up or crane-shot down. The only constant in this disorienting, rotating space is a repetition-compulsion-like continual wash of water away from us under bridges.” The monochromes move further into this other space. At first glance, minimalist objects, yet their origins are in fin-de-siècle decadence and Romantic art; crepuscular oceanic blue, or unwholesome yellow, like a lit window seen in the dark, or a window opening onto the light.

– Paul P., 2020

Paul P. (b. 1977, Canada), who first came to attention in the early 2000s, has developed a wide-ranging practice centered on a series of drawings and paintings of young men appropriated from pre-AIDS gay erotica. His solo exhibitions include Morena di Luna/Maureen Paley, Hove, UK (2020); Queer Thoughts, New York, USA (2019); Lulu, Mexico City, Mexico (2019); Scrap Metal, Toronto, Canada (2015); and The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2007). His group exhibitions include Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2014); Les paris sont ouverts, Freud Museum, London (2011); and Compass in Hand, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009). P.’s work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Whitney Museum, among others.

To view the full article please visit Art Viewer.

For more information about Paul P. please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Paul P. and G.B. Jones | Tough Stuff

September 16, 2020

Artists G.B. Jones and Paul P. have been making collaborative works on and off for nearly two decades, many of which were published in the book A Queer Anthology of Rage. The artists and friends primarily work in collage, pulling from their combined image banks and visualizing their ongoing dialogues.

 

Through these collages, the artists use the process of cut-and-paste to inquire into queer aesthetics of coding and innuendo. The duo are interested in ungovernable sexualities and genders and visual languages that reflect them. By searching, selecting, and recontextualizing found images together, Jones and P. visualize histories of queer communication and identification. In 2018, P. wrote an insightful essay (link) about Jones’ practice for Canadian Art Magazine that illustrates the depth of the artists’ connection and admiration for each others work.

 

 

In conjunction with their collaborative exhibition Temple of Friendship at Cooper Cole, G.B. Jones and Paul P. will be releasing a limited edition zine entitled Tough Stuff. The zine will be available at Cooper Cole in a print run of 200.

Tough Stuff continues Jones and P.’s collective inquiry into ungovernable sexualities and genders, as well as the histories of aesthetics forged by those who were compelled to communicate and represent themselves through innuendo and codes. Devoted to the act of archiving as both a tool and a creative conceit, they have, over the past 18 years, assembled an oeuvre of collaborative cut-and- paste collages from their copious image banks. This zine is filled with colour images of collaborative collages that dwell on the queer lineage of coded language in aesthetics and attitudes.

G.B. Jones (b. 1965 Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada) has acquired international acclaim for her super-8 films, zines, and proto-Riot Grrrl band Fifth Column. Active since the early 1980s, her works are milestones in independent film, publishing, and art rock, respectively, and primary sources for what later became known as Queercore. Concurrently, Jones has always been a dedicated visual artist best known for all-female reprises of Tom of Finland’s drawings. By a simple twist, hers are images of liberation freed of the fascist tendencies at work in gay male culture.  Her solo exhibitions include Cooper Cole, Toronto, 2018; Tom Of Finland, G.B. Jones, Daniel Buchholz, Cologne, 1993; Feature, New York, 1991. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including: Art After Stonewall, Grey Art Gallery and Leslie-Lohman Museum, New York, 2019; Coming to Power: 25 Years of Sexually X-Plicit Art by Women, Maccarone, New York, 2016; This Will Have Been: Art, Love and Politics in the 1990s, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2012; Coming To Power: 25 Years Of Sexually X-plicit Art By Women, David Zwirner, New York, curated by Ellen Kantor, 1993. Jones lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Paul P. (b. 1977, Canada), who first came to attention in the early 2000s, has developed a wide-ranging practice centered on a series of drawings and paintings of young men appropriated from pre-AIDS gay erotica. His solo exhibitions include Morena di Luna/Maureen Paley, Hove, UK (2020); Queer Thoughts, New York, USA (2019); Lulu, Mexico City, Mexico (2019); Scrap Metal, Toronto, Canada (2015); and The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2007). His group exhibitions include Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2014); Les paris sont ouverts, Freud Museum, London (2011); and Compass in Hand, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009). P.’s work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Whitney Museum, among others.

To download a PDF copy of Tough Stuff, please click here.

For more information about G.B. Jones and Paul P. please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Jagdeep Raina Featured on Toronto Life

September 16, 2020

Jagdeep Raina is interviewed on Toronto Life.

Jagdeep Raina is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice spans drawing, painting, writing, photography, and textile embroidery. His art speaks poignantly to social justice and the possibility of intersectional solidarities based on collective histories of community and migration. Continuously examining the intersections of textiles with other media of art, Raina’s exhibition, titled Chase, will be showing at the Textile Museum of Canada in 2021. Catching up with Raina, we spoke about his artistic inspiration, the current state of the art world amidst a pandemic, and what comes next for the multi-faceted creative.  

Tell us a bit about yourself and your artistic background.

I was born and raised in Guelph Ontario, completed my BFA at Western University in London and later moved to the States where I earned my MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Since then, I’ve done a few fellowships in the States, as well as Europe and South Asia. My work is rooted in painting and drawing, but for the last couple of years it has been expanding into film and textiles. Particularly within the realm of textiles, I’ve been working on weaving, spinning, and embroidery.

As an interdisciplinary artist, what is it about a piece of work that draws you to one method over another?

The thing about drawing and painting is that there is an immediacy to it, and something quite urgent about it. I enjoy the speed of formulating an idea and jumping into the process of developing it. But on the other hand, I also love slowing things down. With textiles, it can take a lot longer to build an idea–you really need to slow down and be patient in order to understand what it is you are constructing. The back and forth between speed and patience is an interesting tension that I’m drawn to and ultimately determines which medium I gravitate toward.

What inspired you to start working with textile and embroidery?

There are a couple textiles that come from my ancestral histories which I’ve been really drawn to. The first is called Phulkari (translation meaning flower work), an ancient embroidery textile that comes from India and Pakistan. Woven out of hand-spun cotton and naturally dyed with plants and vegetables, the surface is embroidered with intricate patterns. The powerful history of Phulkari has been shaped by colonialism and globalization, leaving much of the art to become extinct over the years. Some of the most beautiful Phulkari are those which the entire surface is covered with embroidery, this is referred to as Bagh (translation meaning garden). It was traditionally made by people from both sides of the border–symbolizing roots of family and community. In a time where this craft has died so much, I’m really interested in resurrecting this art and some of that history.

Another textile that has been inspiring to me is the Kashmiri shawl, one of the most beautiful textiles in the world. It also has both an incredibly powerful and dark history, with the ways in which centuries of imperialism and colonialism have impacted the industry. Because of my Kashmiri and Punjabi identity, I feel connected to my roots when handling these textiles. I approach working with them through history, my own history, and what it means to fall in love with the material aspects of your culture.

Is it important for your work to comment on social or political issues?

Absolutely–look at the times we’re living in! There couldn’t be a more urgent time than now to comment on social and political issues, they shape our lives every day and often in ways we’re not fully aware of. So, it has always been important for me to think about deconstructing the myth of something that might seem pure or homogenous, and look closer at the dirt behind the shine.

Can you speak on the place of Sikh diaspora in your work?

It’s a subject matter that I’ve always been really interested in, mostly from a place of curiosity. You know, thinking about migration and how communities are formed and shaped and dispersed over time, and how diaspora is something like a place where different ways of thinking and different ideas can coexist. Also, the concept of homogeneity and the myth of a homogeneous community is important to think about–how can a diaspora that I come from be critically examined as a community that is not only racialized, but in itself–flawed? 

How do you believe the pandemic has affected the art world?

I think there is a lot of self-reflection that artists and art institutions are doing right now. It seems as if the pandemic has exposed society’s flaws and showcased disparities that exist within the art world already. I’m not sure how we can address them all moving forward, but I think it’s going to require a lot of listening to one another, and deep reflection on all of our actions.

Your solo exhibition, Chase, will be showing at the Textile Museum of Canada in 2021. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind this body of work?

Chase was first conceived with Shauna McCabe at the Art Gallery of Guelph as works on paper over the last four years with some tapestries and weaving I had done. It looks at the idea of examining a diasporic history of Kashmiri and Punjabi Sikh communities through a critical lens. I think with this show, themes like geography, ecology, gender and class all present themselves as factors in shaping a community.

The word “chase” is something I’ve always seen as a double-edged sword. People are constantly chasing a new sense of identity for themselves, or a new way of life. Diaspora, formed by this idea of chase, is the search for a better life. On the other hand, it also holds a negative connotation. Chase is something that could also produce a mindset of scarcity–where you can become so disconnected and so alienated from the world around you because you’re constantly chasing something better, that you start perpetuating further divisions within your own community or ways of thinking. Oscillating between these two ways of thinking is a major theme of this work.

How did you get involved with the Textile Museum, and what prompted you to show there?

There is something really incredible about the Textile Museum of Canada being a space that is entirely dedicated to the art of fibre, as an artist I consider it a rich place to be. I grew up visiting the museum, and with each visit I grew further in love with the art of textiles, helping me push my practice and keep building my skillset. The museum operates as a space where people can think about the history of textiles, especially in their work with both Indigenous artists and diasporic artists who have ancient textile practices and a history with the land. It’s a space that offers us the opportunity to think through the tough questions about the role of textiles in society today, and the importance it makes in shifting that role in a way that is more wholistic.

Congratulations on receiving the Textile Museum’s Emerging Artist Awardwhat does that sort of accolade mean to you?

I feel really humbled by it. It helps me deal with the self-doubt that I think many artists have. When you receive something like this, it helps you realize that this work can be important one day, and maybe these awards could help me make that work. It offers a lot of validation.

Are you feeling inspired at the moment or working on any future projects?

There are few projects I’m really excited about right now, one of which I’m working on one with a London-based playwright and good friend of mine, Satinder Chohan. We’re working collaboratively on a researched-based project around The Green Revolution, an agricultural framework backed by the United States that was introduced to India after its decolonization from Britain. It’s based off of high-yield seed variety, intensive irrigation and drainage, as well as the introduction to the use of chemicals and pesticides as a way of producing more food for farmers. It’s had a really devastating impact on the land as well as a heartbreaking epidemic of farmer suicide.

Satinder wrote a play about The Green Revolution when she was living with Punjabi farmers and studied the impacts with the technology. She collected a massive archive of hundreds of photos and tape-recorded interviews that she gave to me. I’ve been studying the archive and using its contents to making tapestries and write poetry from it, thinking about how to resurrect this current moment in history. I think it speaks poignantly to this time we’re living in now with its ties to ecological class and economic exploitation.

To view the full article please visit Toronto Life.

For more information about Jagdeep Raina please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Ryan Wallace Studio Visit with Hunted Projects

September 12, 2020

Ryan Wallace is featured on Hunted Projects as part of their Visits series.

Hunted Projects Visits the studio of New York based artist Ryan Wallace.

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This fourteenth VISIT is with New York based artist Ryan Wallace. Wallace’s interdisciplinary work spans radically diverse concerns. Related primarily through existentialist core principles, the miscellany of ideas present in Wallace’s work manifest the complexities of the metaphysical as well as the clarity of total consciousness. Wallace taps into the visceral nature of Suprematism while simultaneously conjuring the bodily experience of Light and Space; a marriage between the cognitive and intuitive that occupies a dimensional, non-linear space. Shredded tape, vinyl screens, wax, and other discarded studio materials converge upon a single plane as Wallace reconstitutes detritus from previous works and forges new abstractions. Through this technique, he visually articulates the most alluring notions of evolution – manipulating the physical and metaphorical layers inherent to our perception. It is with great pleasure to present this studio visit with Ryan Wallace.

To view the full article and watch the video please visit Hunted Projects.

For more information about Ryan Wallace please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

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