It’s the last post of the year…
2012 is on its way out and it’s been a helluva year for Studio Beat. We’ve laughed, we’ve learned, we’ve cracked a thousand Twitter followers. Thanks again and again for letting us onto your computer screen and into your hearts. We’ve got one last post for 2012 before we jump back into studio visits (and we’ve got some really great ones coming up). This is a top 10 list of 2012’s best art shows in Toronto. There’s a film, sculptures, paintings and photographs from galleries all over the city. Check it out and let us know what you think. See you next year!
Christian Marclay‘s The Clock
The Power Plant, September – November
Studio Beat’s top pick for a public gallery exhibition this year was The Clock by Christian Marclay because it was the most talked about and attended event by art and non-art types. Every once and while there’s a piece of art that is accessible without becoming muddied or a spectacle, and this year it was Marclay’s The Clock. In his simple, yet difficult production, Marclay pointed to the effects of filmic space, the cultural significance of time, and a contemporaneous mimicking of the frenetic consumption of media. It also brought art viewers into The Power Plant at all hours of the night providing a generous and rewarding experience that Studio Beat and others are not soon to forget.
Jessica Eaton‘s Squeezed Coherent States
Clint Roenisch Gallery, September
Jessica Eaton uses a combination of oblique analogue techniques to manufacture an image that ends up appearing artificial, surprising and uncanny. Her cool manner of examination and photographic exploration challenges the photographic medium as a tool to depict and highlights its ability to create. We’re really excited about how Eaton uses photography as a production mode to explore painterly and sculptural formal concerns with equal regard for issues of perception.
John Armstrong and Paul Collins‘s Corner
General Hardware, September – October
John Armstrong and Paul Collins have been collaborating since 1999 and the genuine bond in their artistic endeavour is obvious. The artists combine photography and painting to execute painterly abstractions on photographs of banal sites. The artists create images of graphic splendour, using mostly striped painted interventions on photographic surfaces in order to make dynamic riffs off of architectural spaces. What was most moving and delicious in this show was a projection installed in General Hardware’s basement space (where special things happen it seems!) where the artists screened two films, Academy Tianjin and Academy Caochangdi, of interior and exterior shots of an art institution and flooded streets. The films were projected on a screen with a painted linear design, and every slide of the film has extracted the shape of this design in order to allow the painted surface to be illuminated while the film is being projected. The image of these painted marks hover in filmic space as the viewer watches an unfamiliar and lingering walk through halls and streets. Both films are magical, simple and impressive.
Max Dean‘s Objects Waiting and Portrait of the Viewer as an Artist
Nicholas Metivier Gallery, January
Not only did this show align with Max Dean’s project Album (where a Volkswagen Beetle toured around Toronto giving out old photograph albums) but it also included an incredible installation called Portrait of the Viewer as Artist. The installation was a display of objects that were used in the photographic series Objects Waiting. The photographs and the installation (although individually stunning) were essentially the remainder and evidence of Dean’s performance with a set of objects. Each object in the installation was retired to the sculpture once Dean considered the performance complete. The project works as a working transparent model for how we imbue objects with narrative.
Tristram Lansdowne‘s Fata Morgana
Le Gallery, October
Tristram Lansdowne presented an extraordinary show at Le Gallery that was thorough, playful, skillful and imaginative. His work had a newfound refinement and ease. Each carefully executed image of sci-fi inspired landscape transformation was both shockingly unbelievable and convincing. The watercolours were consistent not only thematically but even in colour and mood as if Lansdowne was depicting work from one found futuristic island, each cast in a purple shadow (a detail that was heightened by the careful choice to paint the walls of the gallery in the same shade). Lansdowne also let loose with the clever execution of installation built from prismatic mirrors and plants with peep-holes that constructed a sort of kaleidoscopic miniature green house. Studio Beat can’t wait to see what the future holds for this young artist. Read our studio visit with him here.
Vanessa Maltese‘s Two-fold Tally
Erin Stump Projects (ESP), October
Vanessa Maltese became a hot topic in 2012, when she was announced as the winner of the RBC painting competition, but her show Two-fold Tally in October proved early on that she was a clear winner. The 24-year-old painter/sculptor produced a truly sophisticated show with her second solo exhibition at ESP. Maltese exhibited paintings and wooden constructions that dealt with formal concerns, issues of constructed space and a cool pedestrian interest in materials and the ‘hand-made’. While the paintings negotiated the in-between of illusionistic space and painted surface, the wooden sculptures dealt with weight and nods to the architectural space present. Studio Beat is excited to see how she grows post winning the RBC prize.
Marianne Lovink‘s Wunderkammer
Olga Korper Gallery, March
In March 2012, Marianne Lovink had a debut solo show at Olga Korper Gallery. Lovink’s Dr.Suess-esque, mixed-media black and white sculptures, that echo a biological and cartoon-inspired aesthetic, were scattered around the expansive space like characters welcoming you to come play. Studio Beat loved Lovink’s carefully executed, personified and playful sculptures.
Kristine Moran‘s Between Life and Death
Daniel Faria Gallery, October
Kristine Moran has grown astonishingly since her debut show at Angell Gallery in 2004. Her work has lingered away from the graphic and illustrative and entered a more painterly, less literal and ambiguous space. The images create a spatial architecture from a collision of bold and sensual wet-on-wet mark making. The artist insinuates but rarely describes in these new works–instead allowing the viewer to get lost in a depth of colours and shapes overlapping in what at times seems reminiscent of a photographic blur. What strikes us is an unfailing beauty, but what left an even bigger impact was the unabashed presentation of a feminine and soft gorgeousness that might have previously been a sensibility that a female painter would have tried to suppress. The paintings at Danial Faria were courageous in their beauty and economy of mark-making.
Elizabeth McIntosh‘s Pink Nude
Diaz Contemporary, May
This exhibition was unique because the majority of the paintings were 18 x 24 inches. These considerably smaller scale works emphasized McIntosh’s fearless experimental dives into the language of abstraction. Although McIntosh appropriates playfully the vernacular of abstraction derived from still life, she does this with a serious tone. The works, despite being loose and casual, have beautiful moments of paint handling, delightfully awkward compositions and pronounced unique effects of colour collisions. McIntosh is a painter’s painter and Pink Nude was a tasty treat for anyone invested in painting history.
Luke Painter‘s Anterior
Le Gallery, May
At his solo debut show as a Le Gallery represented artist, Luke Painter went above and beyond expectations. Like Lansdowne, another represented artist, Painter executes his intricate drawings with impeccable and unfathomable skill. However, it is not mere mastery that catches the viewer’s eye but an eerie sense of capturing the uncanny effects of representation. Painter initially ‘sketches’ his images with 3D rendering software and then translates his drawings using this as his reference. By using a contemporary mode of preparation and combining this with the aesthetics of art nouveau and early chromolithography, he brings two disparate times together, manifesting a hybridization of cultures that results in a sci-fi mood in the drawings.
[opening photo by Arash Moallemi]