Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Oreka James at Mercer Union

Oreka James 
Idle Hands, 2017
oil, acrylic and cold wax on loose canvas
78" x 66"

Oreka James, a Toronto-based artist and recent OCAD grad (2016), is an emergent painter who is beginning to make international inroads via Los Angeles. Deservedly so.

James' recent paintings make powerful statements about the objectification of the black body. The black figures in her painting are headless. They are fragmented, abject, and ultimately objectified by this brutal stripping of identity. Because this anonymous state is how the viewer witnesses these figures, James renders the viewer complicit in the objectification to send a powerful message about inherent stereotyping in white cubes and beyond.

What grants buoyancy to this potent, pointed criticism is James' skill as an imagist, as her painting Idle Hands attests. It's the unanswered questions, the lingering ambiguity, that seduces us. For instance, is the white hand doing "the devil's work" by appropriating the drawing on the wall it reaches around?

One may see this and other intriguing work by BIPOC artists such as Tau Lewis and Camille Turner in one of the most, if not the most, memorable exhibitions in Toronto this summer: RAGGA NYC, at Mercer Union until August 11.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Kristine Moran's Airstream Road Trip at Daniel Faria

Kristine Moran, Spiteful Geyser, 2018, oil on linen, 10" x 8"

One positive arising from skyrocketing housing prices in North American urban centres is a revival of romantic nomadism. Last year, for instance, Kristine Moran, a Canadian-born artist who resided in Brooklyn, sold her home and studio in the borough to purchase a 30-foot Airstream trailer. Then she and her family embarked on an extended road trip across North America. 

The result is this exhibition titled Confusion Hill that comprises small oils on linen like Spiteful Geyser that abstract the landscape Moran witnessed on the way. 

These are tight, compact paintings that use the underlying linen texture to great effect. And they show an art historic awareness, especially of Arthur Dove's paintings, that is both rare and welcome.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Progressive Conservative: the 2018 Finalists for the RBC Canadian Painting Competition

The finalists for the 2018 RBC Canadian Painting Competition are out, and the list is progressive and conservative simultaneously. That pairing is not inappropriately oxymoronical like the moniker of Ontario's reigning party that shares those same words. The list is progressive since of the jury's fifteen picks, twelve are women. It is equally conservative in that almost all the work is formalist with an emphasis on the nationally ruling but elsewhere waning trend of figuration. Much work is academic and derivative. Several artists stand out though, notably Ally MacIntyre, who presents jarring images such as Pink Moon, 2016, which quickly and adroitly moves from eighties throwback kitsch, with its neon pinks and cliché palm trees, to a delicate, brooding portrait.

The 2018 Finalists

 Amanda Boulos

 Keiran Brennan Hinton

Krystle Coughlin

Sarah Davidson

Angela Fermor

Karine Fréchette

Stephanie Hier

Ally MacIntyre

Emmanuel Osahor

Lauren Pelc-McArthur

geetha thurairajah

Kizi Spielmann Rose

Joani Tremblay

 Tristan Unrau

Joy Wong

Ally MacIntyre
Pink Moon, 2016
acrylic and spray paint on canvas
61" x 55"