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June 3, 2015

I’m honoured to have a recent drawing featured on the June/July 2015 cover of Slate Art Guide!

Slate Art Guide, June/July 2015

Slate Art Guide, June/July 2015

This latest drawing is a departure from my usual practice in both form and content.

In preparation for a solo exhibition at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum & Archives (PAMA), I’m creating a triptych related to the history of cinema in Brampton and the historic visit of actress Sarah Churchill to the city in 1949. The images were sourced from the Peel Archives, from which I composed three collages and created a trio of large drawings. I’m putting the finishing touches on the third and final piece…

If you’re in the area, please join me for the opening reception at PAMA on Sunday, June 14 between 2 and 4pm.

On Sundays, June 21 and June 28, I’ll be presenting a Synchronicities: Art & Cinema marathon of art talks starting at 2pm at PAMA in Brampton.

For more details see: 

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.

May 8, 2013

I’m very excited with the new possibilities available to visual art researchers. Sky’s the limit and sometimes Rebel Angels fall from it!

Here’s this weekend’s scenario: I was preparing a presentation on a beloved topic of mine, drawing. I was sourcing images for Belgian artist Jan Fabre. His massive ball-point pen drawings on silk made a huge impact when I first saw them in Prato, Italy (outside of Florence) back in 1994. Found some stunning documentation of a similar installation in Vienna. Here’s a glimpse:


Curiousity kicked in. I began to wonder what the amazing painting on the far wall was–click on the image to see it better.

Not that long ago, if you wanted to find these sorts of things you’d spend hours upon hours researching, asking around, combing through art books, chasing red herrings… Nowadays, plug it into Google Image search and it’s all you need.

I took an isolated screen shot of the large painting in the background. “A Rubens no doubt,” I thought. Went to Google Image, clicked the camera icon, uploaded the small thumbnail. Viola! Instantly a grid of the exact image appeared. This was it:

Öèôðîâàÿ ðåïðîäóêöèÿ íàõîäèòñÿ â èíòåðíåò-ìóçåå

Turns out it’s a famous painting by the late Baroque master, Luca Giordano titled “Fall of the Rebel Angels” dated 1666. Rubens hypothesis challenged–new artist discovered.

What will we do with all the research time we now save?

March 12, 2013

With less than a month to go, this year’s signature fundraiser promises to be Station Gallery’s best. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Drawing for Art.

Yesterday evening I had a pleasure of documenting the submitted artworks along with photographer Leif Petersen, who kindly volunteered his expertise and time. At the end of the evening we counted over a hundred pieces ranging from paintings, prints, sculptures and drawings. Pictured below is my drawing inspired by the classic 60’s French movie, Lola. Heather and Bob at Imagine That Framing are the real pros of presentation. The white frame is absolutely exquisite.

With only 100 tickets available, they’re the hottest in town. We’ve sold 60% as of today–and that’s in advance of any selections preview! Having seen the works yesterday, this year’s artistic calibre is outstanding! You’ll see what I mean in a few days…

Stay tuned to the on-line preview this Friday.

"Pick Up" charcoal on paper drawing for this year's DFA.

“Pick Up” charcoal on paper drawing for this year’s DFA.

September 6, 2012

Tomorrow evening a solo exhibition of my drawings opens at the Abbozzo Gallery in Oakville, Ontario. This show captures what’s been an exhilarating and provocative year, particularly the nights when I worked in the studio to produce a new body of work. This latest series commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of a landmark year in cinema. The show titled, Cinemarks captures the spirit of 1962 in European cinema. Some of the sources for my recent works include Vivre sa vie (France), Les Dimanches de Ville d’Avray (France), L’eclisse (Italy), La commare secca (Italy) and Nine Days in One Year (Soviet Union). These charcoal drawings capture slices of time—moments half a century away haunt this exhibition.

The show continues until September 22nd.   

Click here to find out more about the “Cinemarks” at the Abbozzo Gallery. 

Exhale, 2012 inspired by the French film “Vivre sa vie”

August 1, 2012

Curator by day–artist at night. I’m often asked if my visual art practice influences my curatorial work. This overlap plays out in the current exhibition at Station Gallery. The show is titled Fictionary. The idea behind the exhibition came out of a personal interest in drawing and narrative. These two modes of expression and how they intersect with lens-based media, like film or photography, are explored in my own work.

Fictionary features four artists who are similarly interested in storytelling as expressed through the drawn medium. Dani Crosby (Oshawa), Jay Dart (Port Perry), Larry Eisenstein (Toronto) and Christophe Jordache (Montréal) are phenomenal storytellers with a deep devotion to the drawn medium. This is why I’m keenly interested in this quartet. My respect and admiration for these four artists comes out of how their individual studio practices differ from my own. Their reference points are not overtly influenced by films and photos. Rather, Fictionary is a site where creativity, free-range narrative and imagination align. Crosby, Dart, Eisenstein and Jordache celebrate the inherent exuberance in visual art. It’s a spirit that pre-dates film and photography. It’s as ancient as drawing itself.

Let’s continue this conversation on the third Thursday of this month. Join me on August 16th at 7pm at Station Gallery for a free curator’s walk & talk. Fictionary continues until September 2.

Dani Crosby prepares the Fictionary signature wall

It was great to check-out the fifth annual TAP (Toronto Artist Project) at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) grounds. There was a wide range of material output from 200 artists across North America. In looking closely for salient themes, I noticed that many artists were turning to historical modes of representation. One could experience strong feelings of déjà-vu. The entirety of art history seemed to flash before the visitors’ eyes. Sinuous Art Deco-esque lines, a massive canvas inspired by Gericault’s “The Raft of Medusa” and Pop Art typography are just some of the retro motifs that wove through the trade show. Added to this kaleidoscopic mélange was a healthy share of high gloss, resin-coated surfaces that reflected everything in its midst….

Mike and his paintings

Amanda (& Paul) and her mirrored animal drawings

November 23, 2011

Pictures of people have a way of connecting with viewers. If you get a chance, make a connection with the ROM and check out the Kingston Prize exhibition. This show happens every two years and features the very best of Canadian portraiture and figurative work.

This biennial competition has high stakes. The Grand Prize is $20,000! Of the 451 artists submitting to this juried show, thirty finalists are chosen to be included in a touring exhibition.

I found that many works aspired to the conditions of photography—in other words, lots of amazing photorealism. Perhaps the best example is by Vancouver artist Brian Boulton. His diminutive graphite drawing titled Mikey@20.c (Chelsea Boots), is an astonishing, well-burnished “gem” that evacuates all evidence of the artist’s hand and his chosen medium. On the other hand, the works that strayed from the photographic sources really stood out in a positive way. The more exuberant works from T. Salzl and S. Hadzihasanovic conveyed a dynamic tension between traditional painting from life that was strangely contemporary.

Although the Grand Prize winner has been chosen (going to Kingston’s Michael Bayne), it’s not over ‘til it’s over. Don’t forget to cast a ballot to your fave for the People’s Choice Award–the winner will walk away with a “grand” in prize money. A must-see show!   

Brian Boulton's "I-can't-believe-it's-not-a-photo" drawing

March 25, 2011

A few weeks ago, I was uncertain about which drawing I would part with for the Gallery’s upcoming fundraiser called Drawing for Art (DFA). I posted four works and asked you to vote and comment on your favorite Olex drawing. If last year’s vote was more of a nail-biter with all four works jockeying for first position, this year’s vote had a clear leader. Station was the favorite from the start and ended with just over half of the votes going to the street scene. The next step is to get it framed, matted and ready for hanging for the in-gallery preview that will run from April 14 until the big night on Thursday, April 28. Starting April 1st, you can check-out the high calibre of artists’ submissions for this year’s DFA on the gallery website for the month of April.

It’s most interesting to see the ebb and flow of popular taste. Station is an older work that I’ve shown on several occasions. Many years ago, I displayed it at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition on Nathan Phillips Square. It seemed to go unnoticed. The majority gravitated to the figurative works and pictures with people. The opposite was the case with this on-line vote. How could this be explained? Could it be that people are tired of being indoors all winter and are more interested in outdoor scenes like Station? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts….  

Curious about Station Gallery’s Drawing for Art event?  Click here for details…

January 14, 2011

In 1983, BC artist and activist Toni Onley threatened to burn his own collection of prints if Canada Revenue Agency didn’t stop treating artists as “manufacturers” with taxable inventory. The government changed its policy as a result. That same year, artist Tom Dean produced a video titled Burning Staircase in which he documented the torching of a massive wooden staircase in Toronto Harbour. Last year, I brought a roll of large-scale drawings camping. One by one, I hung them on a make-shift clothes-line and set each one aflame.

The intersection of artistic production with fire has a long history. For me, mixing the two was a cathartic experience born out of financial realities. Apart from having emotional resonance, this action had an economic impetus. It was the summer of the Great Recession. My studio production had reached a critical mass. My output was at capacity.  Nobody was buying. I had no place to store the stuff and I could no longer afford to be sentimental. All that remains is a video document of the burning drawings. If you happen to be in the Windsor area early next month, the video will be included in a group exhibition called Make it Work: Art + Economy showing at the University.