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June 3, 2013

Florence has been on my mind. As the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art draws to a close (June 16), I’ve enjoyed revisiting my days living in this great Tuscan city and its profound influences. Last week, I presented a repeat performance of my illustrated talk on art and cinema. During this presentation I delve into artists who are influenced by cinema. I reminisce about a special place in downtown Firenze called the Apollo Theatre (pictured at night and with Google Streetview). This abandoned film theatre was located next door to the Ontario College of Art studios in downtown at the corner of Via Nazionale and Via Fiume. Through a roof-latch, we’d sneak into the derelict film house. We’d feel the rush and exhilaration of urban explorers–and we had the place to ourselves! The theatre was a sacred palace dedicated to the art of cinema. The projection room still had old 35mm projectors (pictured) and metal canisters of vintage films. This fifty-year-old celluloid became the inspiration for many drawings years after their discovery.

Boarded Apollo Theatre

Boarded Apollo Theatre

Apollo at Night

It comes as a surprise to many that these mid-century artefacts were simply abandoned, let alone the shell of this majestic building built during the 1930s. I try to put it in the perspective of Florentine eyes; after all this is the centre of the Renaissance with a thousand year old cultural legacy. Quattrocentro masterpieces adorn the city’s every turn. For locals, the Apollo and all its contents are probably seen as disposable mass-culture of the twentieth century. For me, the Apollo was a rich repository of contents and stories that continue to inspire my art and life.

Apollo Projection Booth

Apollo Projection Booth

January 24, 2013

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of presenting an illustrated talk on art and cinema called Synchronicities at the Art Gallery of Peterborough. It was really fun–thanks to everyone who came out. If you missed it–no worries–I’ll present Synchronicities Part II in Whitby on the third Thursday of March.

Since Saturday afternoon’s presentation I continue to find fascinating and relevant material that I could have included. I’d like to share my latest find that uses film as an inspiration. It’s a short film collage by the Dutch artist, Matthijs Vlot. He painstakingly sourced and pieced together various cinema snippets to recreate Lionel Ritchie’s ballad Hello 

It’s a clever project with the charm of a sentimental ransome note.

Click on the image below to play Vlot’s video. See how many of the 42 film sources you recognize. I’ve added film titles second time ’round…

Will I include this video in my next art & cinema presentation at Station Gallery on Thursday, March 21st at 7 PM? You bet!

January 16, 2013

With the new year begins a new exhibition season. Yesterday was an installation day at the Art Gallery of Peterborough (AGP). A solo show of my latest drawings will open this Saturday, January 19th. Pictured below are a few shots of me putting up some charcoal drawing inspired by 60’s European cinema.

The show will open with a presentation titled Synchronicities: Art & CinemaWith this illustrated talk, I’ll survey artists who are inspired by film and who in-turn inspire me with their work: John Abrams, Peter Doig, Mathieu Dufois, Douglas Gordon, Christian Marclay, Sheena Mcrae and Cindy Sherman

Where: Art Gallery of Peterborough, Peterborough, Ontario

When: Saturday, January 19th, 1:00 p.m.

Finishing Touches

Finishing Touches

Installing "The Waiting"

The shows at the AGP will continue until March 17th, 2013. Hope to see you in Peterborough…


November 5, 2010

I’ve been creating an audience in my studio. This group congregated over half a century ago and many of them are now at retirement age, yet they remain “forever young”–preserved in a classic French film by François Truffaut. In 1959 this pioneer of French New Wave cinema, directed the semi-autobiographic 400 Blows. I first saw this film almost twenty years ago in my French film class at the Ontario College of Art and it has resonated with me ever since. Truffaut used his camera as a pen– camérastylo. His films have an immediate and thoroughly honest feel. There’s an episode in 400 Blows that has stayed with me over the years and I’ve recently dedicated several drawings capturing this moment from the film.

In the studio

In the middle of 400 Blows is a scene that seems out of place. It doesn’t really contribute to the plot development, yet it’s most compelling to watch. It’s a slow pan of an audience reaction shot of kids watching a puppet show. In the next few months, I’ll attempt to capture this slow pan across the cute faces of French kids from the late ‘50s. Some are exasperated by the performance, others are frightened by what they see. To check out what I’m speaking of, follow this link. It’s a fascinating study in group psychology and how we can identify with our own childhood through the segment. What do you think of Truffaut’s footage?  Perhaps you could share some of your favorite moments in movie history? Who knows, maybe I’ll be inspired by your suggestions.