Saturday, July 11, 2015

JJ Lee and Robyn Thomas show staring on July 18th.

loop Gallery is pleased to present Chinoiserie, a new exhibition by guest artist, JJ Lee and Paper Works by Robyn Thomas.

July 18 - August 9, 2015         
Reception: Saturday, July 18, 2-5PM

chi·noi·se·rie ˌ noun (shēnˈwäzərē)a decorative style of Western art based on imitations of Chinese motifs especially popular in 18th century Europe

This body of work is based on blue and white china patterns such as “Blue Willow” that depict an imagined Chinese scene. The increased importation of authentic blue and white porcelain from China in the 1700’s into Europe spawned a fervour for anything “oriental” and a longing for anything “exotic”.  As a result, fantastical versions of the original pottery were created by Europeans of an imagined China. With round canvasses alluding to plates, Lee explores the “chop suey” culture that is created when East meets West through migration.

JJ Lee’s (BFA, NSCAD ‘92, MFA, York University ‘99) mixed media paintings explore the intersection of Chinese and Canadian cultures by appropriating images from a variety of sources.  She has exhibited extensively across Canada and has been featured in The Globe and Mail. Lee is the recipient of several awards (e.g. Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, RBC /Canadian Art Foundation’s New Canadian Painting Competition, Asian Canadian Artists Fund for Visual Arts).  She is included in the Magenta Foundation’s “Carte Blanche: Painting, a survey of contemporary Canadian painters”. Lee is an Assistant Professor and Director, First Year at OCAD University.


In Thomas’s new exhibition, the ancient process of weaving is used to inspire reflection on the present value of paper as a means of record keeping. Printed pages are used as fibre, ceasing to function as a means of recording and informing. Woven together and divorced from their original contexts, the pages begin to tell another story. Thomas’s woven sculptures allow us to pick out snippets of information from each page, while simultaneously approaching the reworked papers as objects of aesthetic contemplation.

Robyn Thomas is a Toronto-based artist. She studied at George Brown College, the Ontario College of Art and Design and received her Fine Arts degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, experimenting in both sculpture and fibre. Her work has been shown in galleries across North America and can be found in university collections as well as numerous private collections across the globe. Thomas’s work has also been presented by design companies including WilliamsCraig inc., Studio Pyramid, and KLAUS by Nienkamper.  

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summer Studio Sneak Peek!

a visit with Barbara Rehus

What do you wish you knew beforehand about being an artist? How would you have prepared yourself differently? 

After leaving a completely different type of career, I finished art school older than your average graduate.  I was so happy and excited to be a professional artist after many years of feeling off-track.  At the time, it seemed very important to follow every step, endorsed by just about anyone, that would lead to a “successful” art career.  Much of the process took me outside my comfort zone and used up a lot of time.  It was a few years before I realized I had missed the window, time-wise, for what many consider a successful career, and that the window was likely not a good fit anyways.  I thought through my own definition of success, and realized it included everything I already have:  the talent and drive to make art, the support of family and friends, the necessary time, physical space and materials, as well as the freedom to make whatever kind of art I wish.  

Take us through your creative process when embarking on a new series of work. 

Some object, interest, or feeling triggers an idea of what the new series might be.  My current series began in 2010 with the find of a great book on puppets that popped out at me in a used book store.  I knew right away the work would have something to do with puppets.  Then, within a month, my sister and I found old puppet head molds in a consignment shop and that sealed the deal.  We agreed to share the molds: I would cast heads and then she would incorporate the molds into sculpture.  I had not done this kind of casting before, so it took a lot of research, much advice from very helpful staff at Canadian Sculpture Supply, and plenty of experimentation.  Many things went wrong and it was sometimes incredibly frustrating, but I was determined to make it work.  While struggling to turn out viable casts, the puppets began to present themselves in my head, fully formed.  I didn’t even know what they were about; I just sketched them as they appeared so they wouldn’t be forgotten.  Once the heads were finally cast, I started to assemble the puppets.  Each one required something different in terms of material, technique or method of assembly.  During this process, it became apparent that the puppets were going to be largely inanimate and were revisiting themes of earlier work: nurturance and familial relationships, misogyny, fear of loss.   

  How has your process changed over time?

Immediately upon graduation from art school I joined an artists’ collective, Propeller, and then a few years later, joined the collective Loop.  Each collective requires that a member exhibit on a regular basis and I defined my bodies of work by the next upcoming show.  Generally ideas would come to me whole, in a particular medium and/or technique, and usually it was new to me.  That is how I came to work with encaustics in a variety of ways, create installations of kiln-cast glass and, later, screen-printed and fused glass.  And there are books, boxes, etched fabric panels, etc.  I enjoyed the challenge of starting with something fresh each time.  The puppet series is the first to continue across exhibitions.  One reason for this is that the ideas for these characters continue to come to me. Another other is – I think - that each puppet gives me enough challenge in its creation; I am never bored.  Over time, each series may be quite different from the others in appearance, media, and possibly in overt narrative.  But, at core, the work always somehow ties to a pull toward family.   

What do you listen to when you work – how does it play into your process?  

I don’t listen to music or the radio while working.  I love the sound of quiet, but unfortunately, mostly hear the sounds of lawn equipment.


Does your work evoke a personal history?

My work has always been about family in one way or another, sometimes obviously, and other times buried beneath layers of whatever else it is I am trying to say.  My family is quite large, with ten brothers and sisters.  Having that many children presents a challenge to any family, and ours was made more complex by generations of various forms of dysfunction, as well as sundry things most families experience.  Growing up, older siblings cared for younger, creating relationships often as parental as they are fraternal, and which are still important in the way we relate to one another now.  Working with family themes has been a way for me to deal with past and current issues and to delve into complicated emotions which might otherwise go unexamined.

Thanks for visiting with us Barbara!

Barbara has an upcoming exhibition at Loop: 
But what’s its value? running August 15 – September 6,  2015 
Closing reception, September 6, 2 – 5 pm
And running concurrently with loop member Rochelle Rubinstein
a collaborative installation at: 
Mon Ton  Window Gallery, 402 College Street, Toronto, Ontario M5T 1S8

also you can see more work at: