9th Anniversary RKG
“9th Anniversary RKG”
31 July - 12 September, 2020
Painting, drawing, sculpture, photography
Francesco Albano, Silvia Argiolas, Agron (Gon) Bregu, Michael Davey, Wolfgang Eckers, Bruce Eves, Oscar Figueroa, Istvan Kantor, Natalia Laluq, Emmanuel Monzon, Ekow Nimako, Bruce Parsons, Jim Picco, Daniel Segrove, HowardArthur Tweedie
Since its inception, Robert Kananaj Gallery has given emphasis to the artist’s practice. The better part of this year spent with Covid-19, peculiar as it might appear to compare any good about it to art-making, has for our generation highlighted how much we rely on each other and how important it is not to take for granted what we all always have had, and still have. The pandemic has no preconceived notions, no pettiness; you have to deal with the real thing. And so with art.
There is something profound revealed in how we as a society and as individuals deal with unusual situations. We haven’t chosen this unusual situation of the pandemic, but certainly we are invited to make the best choices we can. In art, this is actually the nucleus of making. Rather than weaving intellectual webs which often entrap, art that embraces immediacy and spontaneity shares the unique voice that is in each of us.
Art-making involves comfort and discomfort. Parallels of discomfort can be drawn between Covid-19 and art-making. On the other hand, comfort is not how much we get used to the practice of making art, or dealing with the pandemic respectively, but seeing how much facing Covid-19 reveals the potential of the artist as a human being.
The declaration of lockdown has presented challenges socially and artistically. We had to decide whether to treat the gallery as a redundant entertainment venue for times such as these, or to facilitate and utilize this reality like every individual in society does, as the artist does in their practice coping with these uncharted waters.
Highlighted artists in the show:
We have integrated almost in its entirety the previous exhibition of paintings by Silvia Argiolas, which was conceived and created during the pandemic. Silvia doesn't sugar-coat her living relationship with physical being, but channels it to her infinite metaphysical existence. She brings it on - tangible, visceral, not for comfort, first-hand experienced conversation of self with reality.
“Heads” is an ongoing series of drawings which was begun in 2019. The character studies of this cycle are not representations of real persons, but rather a series of drawings which attempt to encompass human existence beyond the physiognomic, where psychic states are conveyed via a process-based graphic expression. Before the work on a drawing of this kind begins, there is always the fascinating question of whether something can be extracted from the real human world through experimental condensation and dissolution of lines.
Wolfgang Eckert was born in Furtwangen/Schwarzwald (Germany) in 1964.
Initially apprenticed as a stonecarver, he studied at the Kunstakademie München
under Eduardo Paolozzi and Hans Ladner. He lives and works in Furtwangen.
Bruce Eves NEW WORK SAMPLER
Detailed below are samples from two new series of works that, each in their own way, address (sometimes bluntly, sometimes obliquely) what has been repeated ad nauseam, “these extraordinary times”. Work # 1027 is a vast archival account of 2020. It was a year that began very well, until March 17. While the work will not be completed until December 31, what it consists of to date is often serial images including enlargements of calendar pages that record the minutiae of day to day business and encounters; month by month scans of book spines to track my reading habits; test results/ER visit records; text works that record my own personal reaction to lockdown during a global pandemic. These works taken as a whole are emotionally raw and run the gamut from self-pitying introspective worry about (possibly) deteriorating mental health to extroverted rage at being taken for granted.
Work # 1029 is a series of experiments in which found objects, some insignificant, some loaded with the weight of history, meet a cheap tabletop scanner employed as a recording device. Because of the nature of the scanner’s extremely shallow depth of field, much of the image capture is out of focus. The objects in question – ranging from refrigerator magnets and knick knacks to a collection of outdated eyeglasses to cheap plaster or wooden knock-offs of famous sculptures – are enlarged many 100s of percent and floated against (mostly) black backgrounds. The results are often romantic, but just as often sinister. - Bruce Eves. July 23, 2020
Ekow Nimako’s BUILDING BLACK: AMORPHIA is the latest body of work from Ghanaian-Canadian visual artist Ekow Nimako. The artworks Esun, Ezyria and Mantawutu are three of eight new sculptures within this series.
“The works thread together elements of West African mask making traditions, fauna and organic forms to create an amorphous and fantastical tapestry. The interlacing of natural elements, and the geometric forms typically associated with the iconic medium, evoke an aesthetic that is at times haunting, futuristic and simultaneously traditional.
The sculptures are influenced by the cultural, spiritual, and political role of masks in West African societies, as well as the inherent embodiment of life within the traditionally static and inanimate form. Punctuating transitions in collective history and personal memory, the mask is a symbol of coming of age, death, birth and rebirth. This perpetual transition is encapsulated in the hybridity of the works, which capture a singular moment in the evolution of these creations. To experience this work is to come face to face with these beings, intimately bearing witness.
The works embrace the particular challenge of articulating mood, expression, and movement in the mounted visage of a mask. Familiar silhouettes take unpredictable and exciting turns, inspired by the evolving artistic tradition of Afrofuturism.
Hybridity and transition are also embodied in the sculptural process, whereby artistic and cultural influences collide with the limitations and possibilities of the surprising medium to influence the evolution of these forms.”
Ekow Nimako is a Toronto-based, internationally exhibiting LEGO artist who crafts futuristic and whimsical sculptures from the iconic medium
Where are we going?
“This is a celebration of my 80 years of walking, hiking and climbing mountains in Alberta and later in China and Tibet; also at the great pyramid sites of Egypt, Guatemala and Mexico, the Avalon peninsula trail at Witless Bay in Newfoundland and the rocky shores of Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia. The circular design of the labyrinth used in my works is a mapping device or path for guidance while viewing the large murals. I use a well-known source of the design from ancient Crete, which was used for divination. In these large canvases, I have mapped the iconic events that are shaping our world, and have been meditating on the larger question, not as an individual but on our part as human collectives, asking the question where are we going? As a Professor of Emeritus I have been privileged to work with generations of artists who in one way or other have questioned our societal arrangements of class, race, gender or nationalities. The rich experience of making art and teaching art has proven to me that life needs art and art is about all of us being connected as individuals.”
Thinking Practice Journey of the labyrinths
“This exhibition, which came together starting in 2012 focuses on the use of a wide range of materials, mural paintings, objects, watercolours on paper, videos and installations. In the last five years I have worked around the idea of our accelerated time related to communication, and the way we perceive the world in our everyday life. I have used the image of labyrinth in the context of facing the chaos in the world at the present time. As we follow the lines of the labyrinth we encounter images and text within the paintings that evoke the state of meditation with a great sense of awareness. These labyrinths are asking us to be mindful of the events around us as we experience each mural. Spend a short space of time thinking about the journey we are on as a community, responsible for others’ welfare with regards to our landscapes. Try to use a lightness of touch so that our footprints should leave hardly a trace of our passing.”
The Man who wore many hats
Bruce Parsons has been exhibiting in solo and group exhibitions throughout his long practice as a painter, printmaker, muralist and installation artist. He was part of Emma Lake workshops lead by Frank Stella, Ken Noland, Jules Olitski, John Cage and Clement Greenberg. Parsons was part of the conceptual art practice at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design from early to mid 1970’s. From late 1970’s to late 2000 he was a Director of the Graduate MFA programme and Associate Professor of Fine Arts Department at York University. His extensive exhibition record includes solo and group exhibitions across Canada in both private, artist run spaces and public galleries as well as in exhibitions in Beijing, New York City, Hong Kong and New Castle Upon-Tyne, England. Throughout his career as an art educator he was responsible for installing more than 150 commissioned murals by Fine Arts students at the York University campus.“These pictures were part of a large installation and performance exhibition in Etobicoke in March 2019 at the main gallery of the Neilson Park Creative Centre.”
Jim Picco Portraits and Houses
“Here we have a series of images searching to manifest the identity of self. And while most of them evolve out of the intuitive process, the Portraits follow a more prescribed objective. The Houses become containers of desire, disappointment and fantasy in their pursue of the concept of “home”, while the Portraits lay bare the unfettered subjectivity of the persona. The common thread throughout is that they are reliquaries of memory - both conscious and subconscious”. - Jim Picco July 25,2020
“These are four of my favourite pastels, all drawn plein-air with hand-made Roche pastels on canson paper. One is a dawn scene from the little French village, Argenton Chateau, where I studied with Studio Escalier. I would race out sleepily to capture the so subtle fast changes of the pre-dawn sky before the sun fully rose and classes started. The other three are seascapes from Sydney, Australia. One is of South Head, the cliffs at the entry to the huge harbour. The two others are from some of the beaches to the north of the harbour that I drew in one crazy day. I love the sky, changing clouds, waves and action. Pastel lets you work quite freely and expressively. You just have to work out the best combination of material, paper and place and then how to carry them back so carefully without smudging. I love plein-air painting and drawing with oils and pastels with all their challenges and joys.”
Francesco Albano’s interests and influences are wide range of subjects from philosophical, mystical and spiritual arguments to scientific theories, from psychological studies to real life stories. Albano uses skin and bone as a tool of expression of societal pressures and psychological violence on the body and conscience.
Agron (Gon) Bregu’s low-key subjects are rendered fluently, making his vulnerably rooted self open to the sublime. Certainty becomes a tested act in painting.
Gon's work has been acquired by the National Art Gallery of Albania
Michael Davey is a sculptor and installation artist whose work often includes cast materials and found objects. Much of his art practice, including bronze and aluminum castings and drawing, takes place at or near his home on Toronto Island, Ontario, Canada. Michael Davey is also a curator and associate professor in the Visual Arts department at York University, Toronto.
Oscar Figueroa’s consistency of the hyperrealistic abstracted state of mind, reflects the commitment that we as a gallery have to show.
Istvan Kantor Dresser
“Breaking old furniture is one of my favourite methods for making art. I made these two pieces from a dresser I picked up from the street, took it apart completely and then glued the front and back parts together, turning them into flat panels, easy to hang. The graffiti style stencil, brush and spray can signs are integral and diagnostic part of my Neoist logarithm I employ for exquisite visual disruption.” - Istvan Kantor, 28 July, 2020
Natalia Laluq used the gift of time in hand for painting the immediate surroundings and environment in Toronto, with nature and plein air canvases.
Emmanuel Monzon "...I capture places of transition, borders, passages from one world to another. Am I leaving a city or entering a new environment?... If I could sum up the common theme of my photos, it would be about emptiness, silence."
Emmanuel Monzon is a photographer and visual artist based in Seattle, WA.
Daniel Segrove "My subject matter for the work focuses on the everyday, mundane or monotonous life and trying to project my own experience or significance to these ordinary scenes."
Daniel Segrove is a graduate in multidisciplinary mixed media with a BFA from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. Daniel currently lives and works in California,