Sunday, June 10, 2012

Exhibition of 60 Painters

I saw the exhibition 60 Painters last week at Humber College Art and Media Studio in Etobicoke, just the day before the exhibition closed.  The show was described as " the most ambitious overview of contemporary Canadian painting in recent memory. The artists are a mixture of emerging artists and very well established artists. Some of the artists are within the first few years of their practice while others are in their third or fourth decade of exhibiting." 

The exhibition was organized by Scott Sawtell, an instructor at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto and at Brock University in St. Catharine's.

The show was spread over 12,000 sq feet of space at Humber College's art and Media Studios, winding in and out of classrooms, hallways, theatres and film studios.

The statement on the wall at the entrance to the exhibition read, in part:
"We now live in an age where information and imagery operate with unrivalled speed and vastness.  It is because of these advances that our world is changing like never before.  Technology's evolution is accelerating faster and faster, intellectual property is replacing physical labour in first world economies, and scientists are documenting considerable differences in the cognitive development of 'plugged in' teenagers.  What role does painting have in a society where people are more informed than ever, but also more detached?  What role does painting have in a society where the shiny, the quick and the 'Now' is all that matters?  What does painting offer with its physicality and scruffiness, connection to history as one of humanity's oldest art-forms, and its darned nuanced deliberations?"
"In this time  defined by technical innovation, scientific discovery and social upheaval, painters are doing what they have always done: make works that are reflective, reactionary, poetic, questioning and magnificent."

I love the idea of such a large exhibition focusing on the work of contemporary Canadian painters. I'm happy that so many young artists are still involved with painting and find it to be a still relevant means of expression.  I also liked the fact that the work of established artists was exhibited alongside the work of emerging artists so there was no hierarchy of presentation.

I think my overall sense of the exhibition was that if this work reflects the society that we live in today, then we are in big trouble.  I found so much of the work to be about chaos--conflating disparate elements and ideas.  So many of the pieces had so much going on in them that my eyes ached from the work of looking.

You could say I am old and out of touch.  And that could well be the case.
Or perhaps this work truly is reflecting the world we live in, with it's technical innovations, social upheaval, environmental disasters, wars and detachment.  You can see the individual works on the 60 Painters website.
I include photos of the work that I really liked in this exhibition.

John Brown   Stupid #1 Oil on panel

Andy Patton -A Cottage at Year's End  Oil on panel

Matt Bahen -Beneath the Night's Pale Globe -Oil on panel

Nicole Collins-Black Flag for Painting-wax pigment and rope on canvas on board

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