Zhang Huan: Ash Paintings and Memory Doors @ the AGO

July 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

One of the AGO’s current special exhibitions features the work of Zhang Huan, a Chinese artist based out of Shanghai and New York, who is mainly known for performance and body oriented work. While most of the AGO’s focus this summer has been marketing it’s massive Picasso retrospective, Zhang Huan: Ash Paintings and Memory Doors, is a lesser-known gem that traces the very specific art process of Zhang Huan. After completing his studies in America and returning to his native China, Huan reformed his Buddhist beliefs, in turn becoming fixated on the aesthetic potential of burned incense ash. Similar to the act of burning incense in Buddhist services, Huan’s assemblage of large quantities of ash also became a rather ceremonialized practice. On a weekly basis, city trucks would deliver the temples’ ashes to Huan, who would then painstakingly sort through the specimen, dividing it according to gradation and texture, eventually applying the pigments to a linen canvas. In this sense, Huan’s utilization of a quasi-religious, creative ritual, aims to uncover the meeting point wherein which spiritual and corporeal cognitions meld.

Zhang Huan’s “Night” (2007)

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Review: Yael Bartana at the AGO.

March 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Art Gallery of Ontario is showing … And Europe Will Be Stunned. Composed of a trilogy of shorts by Israeli filmmaker Yael Bartana, which invert the concepts behind Zionism and reflect the cultural landscape of the 20th century. The series raises questions about displacement and homeland as it takes the viewer through an exaggerated depiction of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland. Rather than communicating a positive or negative view of the movement, Bartana explores the aspects and connotations of the call for Ashkenazi Jews to return to their European homeland. Drawing from propaganda and a history full of militarism and nationalism, she presents an idea for a utopian future, while at the same time criticizing it.

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Review: Constructing Utopia: Books and Posters from Revolutionary Russia at the AGO.

February 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Adolf Iosipovich Strakhov (AGO)

New forms of avant-garde design and media developed in the course of the Russian Revolution (1917) and a distinctive style of propaganda art arose during the Soviet Era. Constructing Utopia: Books and Posters from Revolutionary Russia (1910-1940) at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) showcases some examples of these changes. While the exhibit does not contain some of the more famous works from the period, it does feature some minor works by artists like Vladimir Mayakovsky, Alexander Rodchenko, Vladimir Lebedev and Kasimir Malevich. Yet some of the most interesting works featured were created by unknown Russian artists, a testament to the collective mentality of Soviet Russia. « Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Goya and Gillray at the AGO.

February 9, 2012 § Leave a comment


Goya and Gillray: Humor that Bites is definitely a crowd pleaser of an art exhibit, and just like the other art lovers oohing and ahhing in the gallery, I was pleased. Displayed at the Art Gallery of Ontario, it showcases the caricatures of British artist James Gillray (1756-1815) and the haunting “Los Caprichos” collection of etchings by Francisco Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) of Spain. Both artists were disillusioned with the French Revolution as well as other current social injustices, and satirically took the subject up in their art. « Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jack Chambers: Light, Spirit, Time, Place and Life at the AGO.

December 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Chambers "Lunch" (Estate of Jack Chambers/Loch Gallery)

London, Ontario’s Jack Chambers (1931-1978) – painter, filmmaker, art theorist – was one of the most complex and unusual voices to emerge in Canadian art in the past century. His widely varied body of work spanned from intensely experimental films like Hart of London to surrealistic paintings of his daily life, experiments with optical painting effects and hyper realist landscape pieces. Continuous within all of this probing was a specifically regional sensibility and a highly esoteric version of Catholicism. « Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde at the AGO.

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment


It is the ever popular and whimsical Marc Chagall that immediately draws people to the AGO’s Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde, yet it is the inclusion of works by Chagall’s Russian contemporaries that makes the show truly noteworthy. The exhibit provides much needed context for Chagall’s seemingly idealistic work. Unlike the AGO’s previous blockbuster, AbEx, the Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde exhibition investigates the work of this great painter, rather than merely displaying works without context or curatorial comment. « Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Robert Motherwell At The AGO.

October 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Painting on Paper: The Drawings of Robert Motherwell is the unveiling of the AGO‘s large, recently acquired collection of Motherwell drawings. Although the show is somewhat lacking in a discernible or strongly stated thesis, it is undeniably a great collection of artworks.

Motherwell’s statement that paper is ‘the most sympathetic of all painting surfaces’ appears to be the central theme tying the exhibit together. Although this single perspective is not enough to encapsulate the artist’s entire oeuvre, Motherwell’s reverence for the medium is self-evident in the works. « Read the rest of this entry »

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