Thursday, June 6, 2013

Loop's Summer Correspondent Sarah Letovsky visits LE Gallery

Have you met Sarah Letovsky? She's running a hot new spot on our blog called "The Westside Loop." Check back every week to see what Sarah has to say about another great new show in Toronto's West end! Check out her first post about Scott Waters' latest show at LE Gallery.

Scott Waters at LE Gallery

Sarah Letovsky

Canada's involvement in the war in Afghanistan is not often a topic of artistic discussion, but for artist Scott Waters, the nature of modern warfare serves as the focus for his latest exhibition, “The Keeper of Nothingness”.

When you first enter LE Gallery at 1183 Dundas Street west, you’re immediately drawn to the 48” x 72” piece Mile Kilometer Zero (2012), a massive depiction of a Canadian military aircraft. It looms menacingly against the red sky, a striking symbol of Canadian power in a foreign country, and not without references to a tomb or coffin.

Waters served as an infantryman in the Third Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry from 1989 to 1992, stationed in Alberta and British Columbia. In 2006, as part of the Canadian Forces Artist Program (CFAP), Waters visited CFB Gagetown NB to observe India company, 2 RCR train for the types of situations they would encounter in Afghanistan. He also flew to Afghanistan to join his former battalion as they trained the Afghan National Army.

For an artist, the experience of training for war and being in Afghanistan is one of duality - seeing through the eyes of both a soldier and civilian. “The Keeper of Nothingness” is full of these self-conscious conflictions and dualities. The paintings themselves are a thematic and formal conflict of light and dark. Water’s style itself is expressive, light handed and gestural, a beautiful play of oranges and blues, yet it is deployed to grapple with threatening and ominous subject matter. Tracers (For Greff) (2012) depicts happy orange streaks dancing across a night sky - a poetic representation of Tracer bullets, which are used to light up a bullet stream to track live fire and to correct aim.

From his personal statement, Waters comments on this intentional duality in his work: “The Keeper of Nothingness also considers the liminal space — where one set of norms is exchanged for another. This might be mountain to valley, but it might also be safety into chaos, or representation into abstraction”. Water’s work is a not an explicit comment on his time in the Canadian Forces, or a political statement. Rather, it tells a story about the human experience of a modern war, and the effect it has on real people. Reading between the lines, there is a story of fraternal bonding, post traumatic stress, violence, and of cross-cultural pollination.

"The Keeper of Nothingness" closed on June 2nd. Water’s work can be seen on the LE Gallery website, ( 

Be sure to check out LE Gallery’s upcoming exhibit of Quebec painter Nathalie Thibault, opening june 7th