Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Exodus to Hamilton Brings Results

Mike Hansen; I'm Happy and I'm Singing and A, 1, 2, 3, 4; 2018; acrylic on canvas, 48" x 60"

Mike Hansen, There's a Light That Enters Houses with No Other Houses in Sight, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 60" x 96"

Mike Hansen, Amarillo Ramp, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 20" x 24"

Toronto artists have been moving to nearby Hamilton for half a decade to escape skyrocketing housing costs. While this minor exodus (no, Hamilton is not New York's Brooklyn; it is more Cleveland's Akron) is common knowledge, the art that has come out of it is not.

Accordingly, I was excited to receive an invite to visit the capacious studio of Mike Hansen, a recent transplant from Toronto. A bit less than a year ago Hansen renovated a tween birthday party palace that was once a bike gang clubhouse. Located adjacent to a scrap yard and around the corner from Hamilton's landmark steel plants, it seems galaxies away from anything self-proclaimed artisan, sanctimoniously vegan, or cloyingly upmarket, which is to say Toronto.

Hansen's recent paintings, all completed since he moved into his studio, are based on music he listens to (Hansen is also an experimental jazz musician and sound artist). He sketches them out on the computer, then projects and traces them. Their assertive, colourful forms suggest connectivity if not collectivity, an implication of improv jazz and musicians' camaraderie in general.

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