February 28, 2014

Now here’s a milestone. Tomorrow marks the sesquicentennial (150!) birthday celebration of Florence Helena McGillivray, one of Whitby’s most famed historical artists! She was born March 1, 1864 on a farm at the corner of Taunton and Lakeridge Roads. In the early 1900s she taught at what is now Trafalgar Castle School.

McGillivray travelled to France in 1913 to further her art studies, where she came under the influence of Impressionism and Fauvism. She actively exhibited her work while there, before returning to Canada in 1914 on the eve of WWI and settling in Ottawa. Continuing to actively pursue her career as an artist, she was elected a member of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1917, and became an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1925. She retired to live in Toronto in the 1930s, where she died in 1938. Her paintings are represented in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Many believe that she taught Tom Thomson as trick or two about painting. Happy Birthday, Florence!
Portrait of Florence McGillivray

February 24, 2014

The recent days have been filled with shock and loss of words as Ukraine and the world mourns the deaths in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

Deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the Yanukovych régime.

Euromaidan Activists

Georgiy Arytyunin (1960-2014)
Serhiy Baydovskiy (1990-2014)
Serhiy Bondarchuk (1961-2014)
Oleksiy Bratushko (1971-2014)
Valeriy Brezdeniuk (1963-2014)
Bohdan Baiyda (1965-2014)
Roman Barenitsya (1978-2014)
Vlad Chaplinskiy (?-2014)
Andriy Chernenko (1979-2014)
Viktor Chmilenko (1961-2014)
Olexander Charyok (?-2014)
Antonina Dvoryanetz (1952-2014)
Mykola Dzyavulskiy (1958-2014)
Andriy Dihdalovich (1973-2014)
Serhiy Didych (1970-2014)
Ihor Dmytriv (1984-2014)
Ustim Holodniuk (1994-2014)
Edward Hrynevych (1985-2014)
Roman Huryk (1994-2014)
Olexander Kapinos (1984-2014)
Serhiy Kemskiy (1981-2014)
David Kapiani (?-2014)
Volodymyr Kischuk (1956-2014)
Ihor Kostenko (1991-2014)
Anatoliy Korniyev (?-2014)
Andriy Korchak (1965-2014)
Vitaliy Kotsyuba (1982-2014)
Ivan Kreman (?-2014)
Volodymyr Kulchitskiy (1949-2014)
Olexander Khrapachenko (1987-2014)
Zubar Khurtsiya (Georgia) (1960-2014)
Andriy Movchan (1980-2014)
Vasyl’ Moysei (1992-2014)
Volodymyr Naumov (1970-2014)
Roman Nikulichev (1993-2014)
Valeriy Opanasiuk (1971-2014)
Dmytro Pahor (1993-2014)
Volodymyr Pavliuk (1974-2014)
Mykola Pan’kiv (1975-2014)
Yuriy Parashchuk (1966-2014)
Yuriy Paskhalin (1984-2014)
Olexander Plekhanov (1991-2014)
Leonid Polyanskiy (1979? -2014)
Andriy Sayenko (1962-2014)
Ihor Serdiuk (1974-2014)
Viktor Smiyanenko? (1961-2014)
Vitaliy Smolyanskiy (?-2014)
Bohdan Solchanyk (1985-2014)
Serhiy Shapoval (1969? -2014)
Joseph Shiling (1952-2014)
Maksym Shynko (1981-2014)
Olexander Shcherbaniuk (1968-2014)
Ivan Tarasiuk (1993-2014)
Ihor Tkachuk (1975-2014)
Roman Tochin (1969-2014)
Ivan Tur (1973-2014)
Oleh Ushnevych (1982-2014)
Vitaliy Vasyltsyov (1977-2014)
Vyachyslav Veremiy (1980-2014)
Nazar Voytovych (1996-2014)
Anatoliy Zhalovaha (1980-2014)
Volodymyr Zhreyanin (1985-2014)
Anatoliy Zherebnikh (?-2014)
Yakiv Zaiyko (1941-2014)
Volodymyr Zakharov (1957-2014)

Police and Military Personnel

Vasyl’ Bilitka (1985-2014)
Andriy Fedyukin (1972-2014)
Vitaliy Honcharov (1989-2014)
Oleksiy Ivanenko (1977-2014)
Petro Savytskiy (1972-2014)
Serhiy Spichak (?-2014)
Ivan Tepliuk (1993-2014)
Maksym Tertyiak (1993-2014)
Serhiy Tsvihun (1990-2014)
Dmytro Wlasenko (1982-2014)
Volodymyr Yevtushok (1971-2014)

My thoughts and prayers remain with the people of Ukraine, and their brave struggle to protect their dignity, human rights, and democracy in Ukraine.

Slava Ukraini! Heroyam Slava!
Слава Україні! Героям слава!

February 7, 2014

For the past 15 years, the John B. Aird Gallery has hosted a unique juried showcase of Canadian drawing. This year’s instalment is a particularly strong and balanced exhibition. I’m thrilled to have a piece represented in Drawing 2014 alongside some greatly respected media peers such as Erin Finley, Toni Hamel, Winnie Truong and Amanda Burk. Big congratulations to Amanda, whose piece “Quiescence” placed among the award winners!

“For this 15th annual juried drawing exhibition, 72 artists submitted 137 drawings for consideration by two jurors. A variety of drawing styles, media and techniques reflecting a spectrum of ideas about drawing were represented.

Two jurors, Ed Pien and Dale Barrett, selected the 33 works in the exhibition. Drawing 2014 celebrates the diversity and vitality of drawing, showcasing a range of processes, styles, materials and conceptual approaches.”

O with "The Following"

O with “The Following”

"The Following", 2013, charcoal on paper, 72 x 234 cm

“The Following”, 2013, charcoal on paper, 72 x 234 cm

I worked on “The Following” over the recent holidays. I’ve recently become interested in extending or elongating discrete moments in film. Inspired by a camera pan shot in Michelangelo Antonioni’s film L’eclisse (1962), the camera slowly pans across the commotion outside Rome’s stock exchange. My drawing captures a woman following a heavy-set man who has lost his fortunes in a stock market crash. She’s depicted twice. Technically speaking, there is a ten second delay from one end of the picture to the other. With my drawn rendition, the viewer experiences Antonioni’s scene as a single visual sweep.

The show continues until the end of the February.

January 21, 2014

Pop cultural references embedded in obscure art house movies are always refreshing. The black and white screen-shot packs a lot of visual information and I really enjoyed researching this one. I just revisited Marco Bellocchio’s break out directorial film, Fists in the Pocket. Caustic and irreverent, the movie is a long-forgotten classic of neo-realist Italian cinema. It still packs quite a punch almost 50 years later.

Screen Shot from "Fists in the Pocket"

Screen Shot from “Fists in the Pocket”

The iconic photo on the headboard is a 1953 publicity shot from The Wild One starring Marlon Brando. Paola Pitagora‘s character convalesces with a Disney comic book, known as “Almanacco Topolino” aka “Mickey Mouse’s Almanac”. This periodical reference took a little time to find. I recognized Huey, Louis and Dewey (Italian: Qui, Quo e Qua). Donald Duck’s nephews appeared on the October 1961 cover.

"Almanacco Topolino" cover

“Almanacco Topolino” cover

January 14, 2014

Since I’ve started presenting lectures on art and cinema, I view movies in a different way.

Yesterday I watched David Cronenberg’s 1983 thriller The Dead Zone, starring Christopher Walken.

Walken’s character possesses the psychic ability of second sight. He’s hired to tutor a wealthy man’s son and has a vision that the boy will fall through the frozen pond ice during a hockey game. Prior to the tragedy there’s a very subtle hint alluding to the boy submerged underwater. The clue: a poster in the boy’s room.

A prophetic poster

A prophetic poster in “The Dead Zone”

In the top right of the movie still you’ll notice a poster. It’s a widely recognized image by an American photographer, Sandy Skoglund. In 1981, she created a surreal sub-aquatic tableau of a boy immersed in a environment surrounded by fish. How cool is that? Cronenberg empowers his viewers with second sight — that’s what I call foreshadowing!

Revenge of the Goldfish, 1981 photograph by Sandy Skoglund

Revenge of the Goldfish, 1981 photograph by Sandy Skoglund

December 9, 2013

What a strange day of mixed feelings.

On Sunday I awoke to the news that the Lenin monument was toppled during pro-EU protests in Kyiv, capital of Ukraine. The red granite monument stood opposite the Bessarabska market for just over 67 years. To millions, this day will symbolize the end of an era. December 8th, 2013–the day Lenin fell.  


Later on that afternoon, I switched on the radio and the airwaves were filled with Beatles songs. I recalled the December evening in late 1980 when my brother came downstairs and broke the tragic news about John Lennon. Thirty three years ago marked the end of an era in music. December 8th, 1980–the day Lennon was shot. 





November 24, 2013

Candles are lit and memories are ignited during these final November days of 2013. This year marks eighty years since one of the largest acts of genocide in modern European history. The famine-genocide raged in Soviet Ukraine and other regions of the Soviet Union. Known as the Holodomor (a compound of the Ukrainian words holod meaning “famine” and mor meaning “death”) ravaged the fertile countryside in what was the greatest irony of the twentieth century.  We remain largely unaware of the Holodomor and its repercussions. Things are changing. Traumas experienced in the last century are slowly being redressed. 

A gamut of complex, often conflicting, emotions surfaced in this commemorative year. It has been a year of questions and condolences, regrets and hopes. As a child of a Holodomor survivor, I was faced with deeply introspective, existential questions—it was, after all, a generation which separated my own being with the spectre of genocidal oblivion. I regret not being more attentive to the testimony of my father, who had witnessed first-hand the atrocities of both Soviet and Nazi regimes.

Eight decades have passed since the Holodomor and we remain largely unaware of its repercussions. The topic has been long-neglected in the field of scholarship and only recently the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 has received a modicum of media attention. Things are changing. Traumas experienced in the last century are slowly being redressed. I continue to place my faith in the restorative power of art; a force which creates forums of discussion, puncturing the silence of sleep.

Ukraine Remembers – the World Acknowledges


November 5, 2013

I was preparing for a presentation further exploring the parallels between art and cinema over the weekend. Sat down to watch Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1962 neo-realist classic Mamma Roma and within the first minutes of the rolling credits a house fly appears on the bottom right of the screen. What a dramatic debut! Check it out by clicking the image….

October 24, 2013

The stage is set in Aurora, Ontario. Earlier this week, we installed an exhibition of my drawings at the Aurora Cultural Centre. If you have a chance, please join me this Saturday, October 26 between 1:00 and 4:00 PM for the opening reception of “Somewhere in Time” along with parallel exhibitions featuring works by Sheila Davis, Jean Kallmeyer, Tracey Lee Green and Ellen Cameron.

I’m very excited to also present an illustrated talk on Synchronicities: Art & Cinema, starting at 1:30 PM this Saturday. I can hardly contain my excitement as I write this post and will be delighted to share some recent findings of Canadian art references in Hollywood films.

Hope to see you in Aurora!

olex poster small


October 10, 2013

Autumn is the artworld’s peak performance period–here are a trio of shows I visited recently:

Over the weekend I had a chance to head up to North Bay to visit a couple of shows. Two artists included in the Wiki Show over the summer at Station Gallery were on display. On Saturday, Susan Farquhar’s show “Northern Currents” opened at the Joan Ferneyhough Gallery. Her richly textured works depict a Boreal beauty of another time. Originally from North Bay, Susan’s show fittingly celebrates her homecoming to the “Gateway to the North.” It was terrific revisiting works that were in the Wiki mix and seeing Susan’s creative process in her broader studio practice.

Erin Finley’s solo show was winding down at Line Gallery. Here too were some of Erin’s offerings from the Wiki Show, plus some intricate newer pieces. Finley’s finely-crafted figurative works pack quite a punch. I enjoy the push and pull of Erin’s subject matter–it simultaneously attracts and repels the viewer. Her illustrative drawings and mannerist distortions are flexible, even pliant. Anything can happen on her paper.

David Blackwood’s “Revelation” recently opened at Abbozzo Gallery at Toronto’s 401 Richmond complex. The artist was present at yesterday’s packed reception. This show adds new dimension and breadth to the understanding of Blackwood’s creative output. Widely known for his masterful printmaking, this show expands beyond serial production to include constructions with encaustic flourishes, paintings, drawings and watercolours. “Revelation” is a complex essay weaving Blackwood’s sustained motifs such as Ephraim Kelloway’s door, Maritime lore and nautical symbolism into a cohesive whole. Show continues until November 2 — not to be missed. Happy Thanksgiving!

David Blackwood and O

David Blackwood and O


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