Friday, December 18, 2009

Question and Answer Session with Audrea DiJulio and Suzanne Nacha

This is the final weekend to see Origin by Suzanne Nacha and Post-Haste by Audrea DiJulio at Loop Gallery.

Weekend hours will be Saturday 1-5 pm and Sunday 1-4 pm. 

Please join the artists at Loop Gallery on Sunday, December 20, 2009 at 2 pm for a Question and Answer session led by painter, writer and curator Pete Smith.

Loop Gallery
1273 Dundas Street West
Toronto, Ontario

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Conversation with Audrea DiJulio and Suzanne Nacha

Call it synchronicity, fate or a happy accident, but the random pairing of Suzanne Nacha’s hypnotically subtle paintings (Origin) with Audrea Dijulio’s engaging sculptures (Poste Haste) creates a synergetic impact that is rare in a show that wasn’t orchestrated by a top notch curator. The following interview by Charles Hackbarth was conducted by e-mail over the course of a number of days. It has been reconstructed here as a conversation between him and the two artists.
Charles Hackbarth: Did the two of you know each other before this show?
Audrea: No not before membership at Loop however, we do share a similar background in that she (Suzanne) did her Masters at Guelph about the same time I did my BA and we are also both from Hamilton so I think it is inevitable that some of that is going to inform our work and result in overlaps.
CH: Did the fact that you were showing together shape your art in any way?
Audrea: Both of us, I believe, had completed work and established ideas and methodology for the show before there was any indication of who we were showing with. In fact I didn’t even know that Loop showed artists together like that. Our pairing was random and initially it sparked some panic in me because as a sculptor , especially considering the scale of my work, it is impossible to not be affected by or impact other work and structural elements in the space. Once I found out who I was showing with I wanted to meet her and see her work so that we could discuss the relationship between our works.
Quickly we realized that both of us had an organic sense that emanated from the work but also we had a structured intent that I believe comes from us having undertaken alternate educational directions, geology (Suzanne) and civil engineering technology(Audrea) respectively. Ultimately however, it was the critical art theory part of our art education that began to speak louder then the work itself so installation became quite an arduous task as a result.
Suzanne: For my part all, but one of my paintings was completed well in advance of the show. There is one (the elongated upright ellipse painting entitled 'loaded' ) that was painted around the same time that I saw Audrea's invite image. I definitely noted the similarity with her image and my painting in terms of palette and humour - and I played that up. I thought that it may have a relationship with her sculpture - but I wasn't entirely sure and also I didn't know if Audrea would be interested in showing some overt relationships between our work. I do remember, however, that Audrea (from the very start) suggested that we treat our show more like a two person exhibtion - since we were sharing the space (and this was my preference as well).

CH: Audrea, your media are obviously common, everyday materials along with some basic infrastructure type materials – pipes, etc. Is there a philosophical underpinning to the choice of material? I’m thinking Arte Povera type transformation of basic material. Also, does the notion of alchemy (turning base material into “gold”) factor in?
Audrea: This question has a lot here to address I'll try to keep the ideas organized….
You use the term ‘infrastructure’ type material. You can’t use that when talking about my work because there is no ‘underlying system’ I do not have a system of pipes, for example, that is somehow creating a framework for my sculpture. The pipe has the potential to be part of an infrastructure and that I describe as ‘implied function’ but not infrastructure. More accurately the materials I use are structural in that they are all playing a role in supporting the larger structure.
When you use the word Alchemy you force a conversation about (Marcel) Duchamp…. I am not going to get into that because yes I use found objects but not in that way. If anything I’m just breaking hierarchies in materials.
As for philosophical underpinnings, I favour the phenomenology side of philosophy as opposed to the psychological. I think Suzanne, in my opinion, has a psycho-analytical sense to her work that I definitely don’t have.

Arte Povera is political, this work is not political. I suppose you are making that association because of my use of ‘everyday’ materials (CH: Yes, I’m referring to the use of materials) however, that is not enough because my primary concern is with form; Arte Povera was not so much concerned with form as they were the relationships between the components within their work.
CH: Suzanne, I find it interesting that your paintings are about the subterranean world – sewers, etc. I think of these as dark, chthonic, visceral places, yet your work is very clean and “sanitized”. Do you have any thoughts about that?
Suzanne: As I've continued to work on this series over the past several years the paintings have become darker over time and more connected to their original subterranean reference. One of the more recent works in the show is the small diptych behind the desk entitled 'Limbo: fraternal'. With this particular painting I was trying to push a balance between the water that is painted in a more fluid manner and an overall authoritative structure that is dictated by and in turn supported by the circular edge of the canvas. It's true though that the much cleaner structure does always dominate over chaotic mark making with this series. I would put this down to my preference for paintings that get at the essence of an image or idea. Toward this end, I will often deliberately try to create convincing spatial illusions by using a line or colour in the simplest possible way. In the very cartoonish painting entitled 'the gluttonous' for example, a fat protruding space is defined by (and appears to be held in place by) a belt-like line initiated by the canvas edge.

CH: Suzanne, one can’t help but notice the twinning and mirroring of images. This brings to mind all kinds of concepts, the doppelganger being just one. Stereoscopic vision being another.
Suzanne: Yes, definitely...mirroring, twinning and folding are all there. I've observed this in many of my underground references - especially where there was water involved. But more than a formal or compositional strategy I was interested in the suggestion of altered states, psychedelia and an overall sense of the paintings as psychological rather than actual spaces. I did a series of screenprints during a residency at Open Studio last year and with these works in particular the psychedelic and mirroring aspects became a focus.
CH: Also, if both of you can speak about the overlap you find in each other’s work?
Audrea: Overlap… I think the strongest overlap comes from our compulsion to use elements which are rigid and familiar and change them into something vague so that it can be reconsidered, if you see it like that, then the tendency towards the organic, in this case, comes from a duality that is created.

Suzanne: I believe the crucial overlap in our work comes down to our interests in the structure of materials and how this can be played with and manipulated to affect the viewer's experience of balance and stability. There are also definite overlaps in terms of colour and humour.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Artist Profile: Suzanne Nacha

As a child, Suzanne Nacha created signs alongside her father in his sign painting business, but did not consider fine art as a career until after she completed her undergraduate degree in geology in 1989. She then pursued a BA in Visual Arts from Guelph University and an MFA from York University. Although Suzanne's preferred medium is oil paint, she has been influenced by sculptors such as Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois, finding their "interest in the organic form and its ability to deliver psychological import" compelling. Painters that approach their subjects in sculptural ways such as Giorgio Morandi and Wayne Thiebaud, have also been an influence.

Taking inspiration from the natural world and from "something that an image suggests", Suzanne  begins her exploration of the subject matter by making many studies in gouache, manipulating these in terms of composition, colour and overall format. Sometimes this process leads to a larger work or will result in an image being abandoned in favour of others. In her current series of work Origin currently on display at Loop Gallery, Suzanne explores the underground imagery of tunnels, caves and mine shafts manipulating them to "create a sense of physical unease". Many of the titles are derived from the descending rings of Dante's version of hell.

1.  You work on very unusual formats of supports. Do you construct these yourself? Was this just for this particular show or do you usually work that way?

"In my last body of work entitled 'the geology of morals' I paired sculptural forms with simplified landscape paintings in order to animate a reading of something unseen within the landscape. I felt that at the time the sculptures were more successful in capturing a sense of form and materiality than the paintings they were paired with. With this new series entitled 'Origin" my strategy was to try to make the paintings do the things that the three dimensional sculptures did so well. Shaped canvases were an obvious solution to me and this meant that the internal visual logic of the picture plane was dictated by the external structural edge of the support."

2.  What fascinates you about underground tunnels, caves and mine shafts? And have you ever climbed into a cave?
"I was thinking about these underground spaces as the hidden darker side of landscape and somehow opposed to what we know exists on the surface of the earth. I imagined these to be hollowed out sites - the caches or storage basins of history. I wondered what these spaces might have to say to us now - in light of recent histories and thus began the Origin Series.  
In the past I've been in a couple of small minor caves, in several underground mines and very recently, I visited the catacombs in Rome."

3. If you could chose anywhere in the world to travel and paint, where would you go?

"I'd really like to go to the Caves of Drach in Mallorca, Spain and also to the Mommoth Caves in Kentucky."

4. What is your next project?

"I am working on some large diptychs that continue the Origin Series (showing right now at Loop). I also have some side projects...a large group of works on paper that continue the narrative of the Origin series and an animation project on the theme of mining and the human condition."

Loop Gallery has Suzanne Nacha's Origin Series on display until December 20, 2009. To see more of Suzanne Nacha's work, visit her website here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Artist Profile: Audrea DiJulio

Loop Gallery member Audrea DiJulio did not consciously consider herself an artist until five years ago when she was presented with the question: do you consider yourself to be an artist?  Influenced by artists such as Jessica Stockholder, Rachel Harrison, Gordon Matta Clark, Richard Tuttle, and Thomas Hirschhorn, Audrea's imaginative and colourful sculptures defy easy categorization. Finding inspiration in "places that are barely being held together", Audrea's Post-Haste sculptures currently on display at Loop Gallery were created using a hasty-based process. In the following question and answer format, Audrea DiJulio describes her artistic process.

1. What is your process/routine/rituals around creating a sculpture?
"The process follows a history of artists who have sought to understand the materials they are working with by not forcing it to do what it doesn't want to do. This is likely why many of the forms that result have a modernist likeness to them. This seems to be a strong enough tendency that is necessary for me to address these ideas. Mix that up with some relational aesthetics and it is almost formulaic."

2. You describe your process as "hasty". What does that mean exactly?
"It is a word which best describes the process I use to make sculpture. In making the work 'hastily' I am kept from making conscious decisions about the end result and am allowing the work to take its own form. I am then able to frame or emphasize the great things that have resulted and then take off on tangents surrounding those great moments."

3. It appears that you work with found materials. Is that the case or do you purchase materials specifically for a given project? If you use found materials, where do you source them?
"I do all those things. The materials I purchase are inspired by or related to the materials I found. I only source where I find materials if it is contingent on understanding the work in some way. For example, in my last show 'renovation context' all the work was made from materials salvaged from the house that was currently being renovated. This also became the space I used to display the work."

4.  What fascinates you about sculpture?
"The play between form and space and the connection it makes between the sculpture as an object, academic theory and the object of reminiscence at the time."

5.  I understand that you are currently working on a diploma in civil engineering technology. Are you doing this to enrich your art practice or do you hope to work in that field?
"Both. I don't really know why it has to be one or the other since art is informed by your surrounding environment so how could it not enrich my art practice as well? It is a lateral step that I took in my education which came out of my interest for structures and materials. Civil Engineering Technology has given me room to understand the underlying systems of the things, almost literally. More specifically it was a conversation concerning a book about construction materials and connections, accompanied by two pints of beer, that was the catalyst for signing up with this program. But yes, I plan to work in the field as it satisfies a different part of my brain."

6. What is your next project?
"In May 2010, I am showing in Hamilton at Loose Canon with a photographer I know, Matias Santini. Our show is called "Behind the City" which is an investigation into some spaces we consider to be hidden treasures in Hamilton. The identity of Hamilton is going to drastically change over the next 5-10 years and I want to be part of it actively not passively because I think it is necessary for a city that has been almost entirely dismissed."

To see more of Audrea DiJulio's work, please visit her show Post Haste at Loop Gallery which ends on December 20th or visit her website here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sandra Smirle at the Board of Directors

Been & Gone by Sandra Smirle 2009

Opening tomorrow, December 10, 2009, is the show 100 Random Temporal Observations at the Board of Directors, 1080 Queen Street West (at Dovercourt). Loop member Sandra Smirle used 250 xacto blades in creating the above work and invites you to join her on Friday, December 11th from 7-9 pm.
The show continues through to December 20th (Thursday - Sunday 12-6 pm).

You can also see more of Sandra's work on her website here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lorene Bourgeois Show at Glendon Gallery Extended!


Glendon Gallery Installation by Lorene Bourgeois 2009

Glendon Gallery Installation by Lorene Bourgeois 2009

If you haven't made it out to see Loop gallery member Lorene Bourgeois exquisite drawings at the Glendon Gallery on the Glendon College campus of York University, you now have one extra day! In this show called enveloppes du corps, Lorene explores cloth as a second skin in hauntingly beautiful drawings. Read Yael Brotman's review here

Gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday, 12-3 pm. The show has been extended for an extra day for a closing celebration in which the artist will be in attendance on Saturday, December 12th from 11 am to 5 pm.

Glendon Gallery, Glendon College campus, York University
2275 Bayview Avenue (Lawrence and Bayview)

TTC accessible from the Lawrence Station subway, take Bus #124 Sunnybrook, Stop at Glendon College.