Bobby Mathieson’s “Dual” profiled in NOW magazine

Posted on: January 18th, 2014 by Manny

Works by Bobby Mathieson, such as Capital, crackle with tension.

The image and its double is at the heart of Bobby Mathieson’s show Dual, or rather the image and its shadow. His paintings are studies in contradiction, canvases crackling with so much surface tension as to be almost hostile.

Culled from film and pop culture, the subjects tug uncomfortably at memory. Their rendering in a deft but smeary impasto keeps them balanced on the knife edge of recognition.

Part of their dramatic power comes from Mathieson’s intense contrasts of light and dark. His subjects pop, like blurred echoes of baroque and mannerist heroes, from fields of dark umber, black and battleship grey. They don’t meet the eye so much as writhe before it. At times they glow like photo negatives, incandescent figures burning against deep fields of black.

Even so, they’re in no hurry to be recognized. Mathieson’s subjects remain strictly impassive under their savage vibrancy. You can’t help but look at them and feel lonely. I kept being reminded of screens playing to empty rooms. His immersion in movie culture (Mathieson attended the Vancouver Film School) is in evidence everywhere.

Find The Beatle, which features Mick Jagger in his quarter-moon-emblazoned wizard hat, is obviously taken from the shambolic Stones album Their Satanic Majesties Request (whose cover featured hidden images of the Fab Four). The title, however, is only a clue; the painting reduces the cover to a decaying fragment that still radiates some strange, totemic power.

Sometimes the reference is even more wilfully obscure. Aberdeen may or may not be a painting of a Scotsman wearing a Daniel Johnston T-shirt. Capital, with its blade-wielding warrior, appears to be taken from a swords-and-sandals epic.

Even so, you’ll remain intrigued. Mathieson explores the contemporary media image as a wilderness, a rough, glowing terrain in no danger of being tamed.

art@nowtoronto.com

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Trish Boon’s profile of ‘the Immaterial Bogdan Luca’

Posted on: January 15th, 2014 by Manny

The first time I met Bogdan Luca was at an opening at Neubacher Shor Contemporary. It may well have been the opening of Neubacher Shor, but I can’t say I remember. I do remember that it was one of those rare nights in my recent past where I felt a more like a socialite than a homebody. The social buzz was coupled with the discovery of some fantastic art which convinced me to visit Luca’s studio, and write a post about his oil paintings. Since then, Luca has stood out to me as a bike-riding, white-squirrel coffee drinking Queen West neighbourhood fixture, so I was more than happy to meet up with him last week at NSC to discuss his new body of work.

Filling the entire gallery, the show was composed of huge charcoal drawings, photographs, and a conceptual element charting the movement of light and shadows amidst the gallery. Apparently, Luca “hit a wall” painting. Frustrated by every technical and conventional aspect of the medium, he embarked on a residency in Berlin last summer determined to create work that was “not material.” He wanted to create a body of work that concerned the state of being present in relation to a particular space. He also very much wanted not to paint.

The  framed photographs positioned in the far gallery represented the culmination of this work in Germany. Each image is a documentary compressed. For instance, one image was created by overlaying photographs taken every time a plane flew overhead within the space of an hour. The aesthetic component arises almost incidentally from the overlay, but because the impetus to photograph was governed by a predetermined external factor, the resulting outcome of the image is beyond Luca’s control. This is not painting.

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Also in this gallery is a series of lines and annotations in which Luca has traced patterns of light coming from the windows onto the floor or walls. Again, the artist is reveling in his lack of control over the outcome of the patterns created by these lines. Reacting to his frustration with the expectations and aesthetic conventions of painting, he is allowing these lines to trace his particular musings on not only light and its resulting death into shadow, but its interaction with the world around it, and his own sense of “being.” The tracings form a catalogue of the most profoundly mundane aspects of the space-time continuum.

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The third element of the show is a series of diminutive unframed photographs juxtaposing some of the other larger works. These photos toy with the viewer like an editor’s cheeky comments in a margin. Again, Luca is concerned with his perceived complications of depiction. The photos are virtually abstract. One approximates a photo of a constellation until a staple in the corner reveals that it is a photo of the artist’s studio floor. “When you make a drawing to depict, the image is not free,” baits Luca. A pointed question of clarification leads to his retort- “The image is me!”

It’s so interesting how much of an artist is revealed in their practice. The work I’ve described above is fascinating as it so graphically illustrates the meandering introspections of a highly creative mind. I must admit however, I was definitely not frustrated by Bogdan Luca’s painting practice.

The final portion of the show consists of a series of six of large charcoal works on paper created since September. They are primarily highly technical representations of the elements. There is a panoramic sky, a sprawling ocean, a close-up of a fire, and a forest fire where the flames are ironically rendered through the pure absence of the burnt medium used to create the drawing.”I like to draw things that are hard to draw,” he admits.

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The day I was there, the normally spacious gallery is starting to fill up with slick white and silver tables and chairs in preparation for an event in the evening. I have to slide between a pair of bubble wrapped side-boards to get a good look at what emerged as my favourite piece in the show. Another massive charcoal drawing, this one bucked the entire exhibition’s anti-material motif. Featuring an immense and jagged cliff off of which a pair of surreal or maybe simply delusive bells have fallen haphazardly onto the ground, as small silhouette of a bystander  is portrayed standing towards us with one leg crooked on a boulder as if posing for a tourist snap. The piece is pure narrative. My own mind wanders into the various incarnations of the five w’s and I am reminded of the joy in viewing art that follows the very conventions Luca is frustrated with.  ”This one’s different,” I mention, cuing Luca’s explanation. “Yes,” he admits. ” I wanted to do something with bells…”

I won’t write exactly what I told Luca that this painting meant to me, but I will admit that I am relieved that regardless of how frustrated he may be, there is concrete evidence that the aesthetics of painting are still very much a part of this artist’s vision, regardless of his current practice. I hope that these technical practice pieces and meta-cognitive explorations somehow lead him back to painting- but that’s just my opinion. One of Luca’s next projects includes a visionary architectural work during his upcoming residency in  the Arctic Circle. Not painting.

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Wishing it was warm…looking back at Peroni photos from summer 2013

Posted on: January 15th, 2014 by Manny

Party photos of the week: Terrazza Di Peroni

LAURA SERRA

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published 

It is my favourite party of the summer,” said Toronto fashionisto Glen Baxter at the annual Terrazza Di Peroni party held Wednesday night at the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Malaparte patio. To switch up the format this year, Italy’s blue-ribbon lager challenged eight Canadian artists to recreate photos taken by eight Canadian luminaries and their time spent in the country of green, white and red. Artist and curator of the series Manny Neubacher of Neubacher Shor gallery (who also snagged best dressed along with his wife Anya Shor) was partnered with musician k-os, while actress Sarah Gadon saw her vacation memories come to life through the eyes of artist Adrian Williams.

Andy DeCola’s "As The World Turns" profiled in NOW Magazine

Posted on: January 15th, 2014 by Manny

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Andy DeCola @ Neubacher Shor Contemporary in Toronto

Andy DeCola’s Ceremony is one of many wholly original works at Neubacher Shor.

Organic unity doesn’t seem to be a concern for young Toronto painters. Andy DeCola’s surreal pop sensibility is one example. His surfaces hit the eye with a cheerful wallop, but unresolved tensions are churning away inside them.

DeCola has already shown his gift for creating fields of immense visual pleasure, layering scanned bits of advertising and other mass media onto his canvases in his trademark ice-cream pastels. His bold juxtapositions and abstractions generally work well with his eye-popping palette.

This new series shares the same elements. Scanned images from surfing, travel and fashion magazines are seemingly applied to surfaces with the same bold colour sense and hallucinatory flatness. A new fascination with mirror images and kaleidoscopic symmetry, however, has overtaken this work, along with some darker, murkier shades. The results are more meditative and staid.

Even so, his paintings refuse to stay put. In Ceremony, a large abstracted floral pattern, the “petals” in the background threaten to overwhelm the foreground’s wallpaper pattern, creating an eerie digital flatness. The shifting elements hold together, but barely.

In Mountains Beyond Mountains the same kind of reconstituted imagery churns into something surreally new. A stack of hats sampled from a fashion magazine is elongated into a branch-like form connected to another shape made of bold fabric patterns. These converge over a grey mountain range digitally manipulated into almost unreadable abstraction. It’s at once visually pleasing, maddening and impossible to place.

Is it pop? Is it abstract? Is he quoting Jeff Koons, Neo Rauch or Sigmar Polke? It’s all these things and none of them. While mining the visual grammar of painting over the last 30 years, DeCola forges his own vocabulary.

art@nowtoronto.com

 • NOW | September 19-26, 2013 | VOL 33 NO 3
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View more of Bobby Mathieson’s work and latest intervew!

Posted on: January 15th, 2014 by Manny

Download the Wondereur App for details.

Alain Lefort Interviewed on Art Sync about his exhibition Echo’s Breath

Posted on: July 6th, 2013 by Manny


Click here to watch Alain Lefort’s interview with Barbara Isherwood on ArtSync

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Trish Boon Sits Down With Andrew Dexel To Discuss Nooaitch at NSC

Posted on: May 11th, 2013 by Manny

Andrew Dexel

By: Trish Boon

I wondered if I had prepared too many questions around the topic of his First Nations heritage as I walked towards Neubacher Shor Contemporary for my meeting with Andrew Dexel, a BC artist visiting for the week of his opening. The questions seemed impossible to get around. Sometimes, his boldly coloured works are meditative mandalas that appear more Tibetan than Aboriginal. At other times however, they reek pleasantly of the stylized shapes and animals distinctive of North West Coast Indian art.

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about following this line of questioning. Dexel’s pride in his part-heritage (he’s half German) is evident and unavoidable in most of his answers. At one point in the conversation, he proclaims, “I’m so happy to be First Nations, I love everything about [it] my culture.”

 

Dexel is bridging the gap between contemporary Canadian culture and indigenous culture through his persona as well as his art. His appearance belies the fact that his art is borne primarily through traditional spiritual rites such as sweat-lodge. Dressed in black skate shoes, jeans, a simple grey jacket and a vintage trucker hat; he looks as though he may have stepped off the pages of a skate-boarding magazine. In parallel with this cultural paradox, his large scale canvases, covered in brightly hued contemporary acrylics, share motifs prominent in traditional First Nations art.

Dexel’s relationship to tradition becomes the focal point of our exchange. Musings on my own assumptions about his culture are prompted not only by the answers this young artist provides, but by the way he answers my questions. His responses to my queries fail to evolve into the flurry of theoretical discourse that I have become accustomed to artists feeding me. Instead, I want to call his replies monk-like, as they are often steeped in thoughtful silences and stories told to him by his elders.

 

When explaining the significance of the circle, which figures prominently in Dexel’s work, he recounts a story his dad told him about a dream in which he was living in a city, surrounded by squares, until he had pancakes for breakfast. Asking if I can understand the implied wisdom of the story, he apologizes for his crude retelling and clarifies some of the ways that the circle represents balance in his culture.

From what I can piece together of his personal history, it’s easy to see why the dream is significant for him. Dexel’s artistic pursuits began in Vancouver, as a graffiti artist. Around 8 years ago he started developing his skills as a painter, gaining acceptance to New Mexico’s prestigious Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). He spent little time in school however, citing that “he never wanted to study anything in depth to be limited by it, or to know more about life so that he could feel trapped by knowledge.”

Eventually, he moved away from Vancouver in order to make art and spirituality his complete focus. The one thing he made very clear to me was how for him, these two things are very much one in the same. When questioned about his art, he quotes another artist who deemed it Neo-Native Symbolist. He repeatedly stresses the importance of his use of colour and composition, inarguably the strongest elements of his work. The idea of pursuing a theoretical or conceptual direction within his art seems to ring as a moot point for him. The art is the spirituality, and his spiritual growth is the direction.

 

After dashing out of the gallery for an accelerated smoke break, he returns to our interview to tell me a final story. In it, there is a chief who is consumed by his desire for power. He traps a medicine man, who creates a deity to serve the chief  The medicine man warns him to keep the deity busy, or it will grow bored and evil. The chief gets the deity to build him houses and gardens and all sorts of items of pleasure, but he is unable to continue to entertain it and it evolves into a powerful demon.   Frustrated, the chief returns to the medicine man asking for help. The medicine man plucks one curly hair from his head and hands it to the demon ordering him to straighten it. As the demon repetitively pulls the hair, it only becomes curlier, and eventually the demon shrinks until it is almost out of sight.

“Do you understand?” asks Dexel. “The act of straightening the hair, that is my art.” Andrew Dexel’s paintings are on exhibition at Neubacher Shor Contemporary until April 30, 2013.

 

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Andrew Dexel's "Nooaitch" profiled in Mixed Bag Mag

Posted on: May 11th, 2013 by Manny

VISUAL MEDICINE: Andrew Dexel Opening @ Neubacher Shor Contemporary in Toronto


Change of Seasons by Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel. Acrylic on Canvas. Image from Neubacher Shor Contemporary.

“The explosion of colour is a form of medicine”

It’s fitting that Andrew Dexel’s work should follow MIXED BAG MAG’s post on the Journey of Nishiyuu. Andrew is another example of how young Aboriginal voices are getting our attention regarding the importance of referencing Indigenous Knowledge as a source for solutions to today’s problems.

Hailing from Vancouver, Andrew is from the Nlaka’pamux Nation. His work acknowledges the clash of values we have in Canada yet in its own way bridges the gap as he soothes the viewer with an artistic remedy.

“My work relates my spiritual path; my journey. I express the inspiration lovingly given to me through teachings and stories from my elders and mentors. My work embodies the powerful visions that I have been given through these teachings. I am grateful. My work is a modern expression embodying the symbolic abstract inspired by my home: Coast Salish Territory.” Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel

Tomorrow evening in Toronto at the Neubacher Shor Contemporary Gallery in Parkdale Andrew’s show “Nooaitch” opens. As one of the artists featured in the online version of Beat Nation: Hip Hop as Indigenous Culture as well as the exhibition at SAW gallery in Ottawa, this solo show of Andrew’s work compliments the Beat Nation show currently on at The Power Plant.

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“A fusion between graffiti and North West Coast Art”

“Ceremony and spirit, transformative art and ancient knowledge, these are themes throughout Nlaka’pamux artist, Andrew Dexel’s work…the voices of younger artists like Dexel who are working to fuse indigenous perspectives, aesthetics and tradition within new forms and materials are the cutting edge of ‘Native’ art. Dexel’s earlier work with graffiti art and street art led him to looking more diligently at Westcoast formline design and really solidified his ideas in line work. His unique palette, comes in part from this graffiti reference and also from the world of ceremony, the explosion of colour is a form of medicine, blowing up our expectations and creating new forms and ideas with diverse starting points. One part medicine, one part magic Dexel’s new body of work continues his exploration in healing and indigenous plant wisdom and ceremonial culture, with the beauty of his lines, the hopefulness of his palette and the spiritual animism that populate his canvasses.” ~ Tania Willard (co-curator of Beat Nation)

Andrew is part of a growing movement of contemporary Aboriginal artists who hover in the in-between space of traditional and modern. These artists blend together indigenous knowledge of healing  with a street smart aesthetic. It is here that  Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel moves fluidly. He offers us “visual medicine.” Experience the healing.

Dexel’s new body of work continues his exploration in healing and indigenous plant wisdom and ceremonial culture”

Andrew’s new work at Nooaitch show


www.visualmedicine.ca
| En Paa Uk Flickr Stream

Acrylic painting on wood in West Coast Art style
Raven Child by Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel. Acrylic on Crated Wood Panel. Image from Neubacher Shor Contemporary.


Star Nation by Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel.
 Acrylic on Canvas. Image provided by Neubacher Shor Contemporary.

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She Does The City Profile of “Strange Beauties”

Posted on: May 11th, 2013 by Manny

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Jen Mann: Strange Beauties at Neubacher Shor Contemporary Gallery

By: Haley Cullingham

Toronto artist Jen Mann explores “beauty on the fringes” in her latest show, where large-scale, colour-saturated portraits seem to hum with life on the exposed brick walls. The artist was inspired by childhood, and some of the images we associate with it, like circuses, illusions and dreams. The unconventional poses and colouring work with Mann’s photorealist painting technique, rendering arresting moments of action made still. You can almost hear the sound of a shutter clicking, imagine the noise of skin touching skin, hair swishing, an arrested giggle or prolonged sigh as the subject closes their eyes and leans back their head.

Strange Beauties runs at Neubacher Shor Contemporary Gallery until March 23. 5 Brock Ave.

Photos by Becca Lemire

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Jen Mann Featured on We And The Colour

Posted on: May 11th, 2013 by Manny

“Strange Beauties”

Art gallery Neubacher Shor Contemporary presents Jen Mann with her solo show “Strange Beauties” from February 20, 2013 – March 23, 2013. Jen Mann’s acrylic paintings are inspired by illusions, dreams and memories of the childhood. The artist experiments with special color combinations, saturations and a variety of different effects to capture an innocent and intimate sense of beauty. Each portrait conveys a very unique and surreal effect. For more information about the exhibition check out here.

Jen Mann - Strange Beauties - Exhibition RoomJen Mann – Strange Beauties – Exhibition Room
Jen Mann - Strange Beauties - ExhibitionJen Mann – Strange Beauties – Exhibition
Jen Mann - Strange BeautiesJen Mann – Strange Beauties
Jen Mann - Strange BeautiesJen Mann – Strange Beauties

Jen Mann - Strange BeautiesJen Mann – Strange Beauties
Jen Mann - Strange BeautiesJen Mann – Strange Beauties
Jen Mann - Strange BeautiesJen Mann – Strange Beauties
Jen Mann - Strange BeautiesJen Mann – Strange Beauties
Jen Mann - Strange BeautiesJen Mann – Strange Beauties

Jen Mann - Strange Beauties

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