letting things be

I was seduced by the small details of paintings I was looking at last night at a gallery opening. I had to capture them. What they all have in common is the moment when the artists stepped back and allowed the paint to react to water (or other solvent). It's succumbing to the unexpected and just letting things BE. There's so much beauty in that and lesson in there somewhere.

xiaojing yan

The work of artist Xiaojing Yan was part of Gladstone Hotel's 5th Birthday open house exhibit last weekend. I'm assuming that these paintings are portraits of various Asian women with their mother's or grandmother's portraits on the other side of the transparent, hanging 'discs.' (photos taken with my iPhone) 

The painting technique reminded me of colour-by-numbers paintings from childhood. These double portraits were beautifully presented, lit and suspended from the ceiling in such a way that allowed the viewer to walk around them. I like the idea that a 'front' or 'back' doesn't exist, both sides of each portrait have equal visual weight. It brings to mind my own thoughts and experiences on bicultural identity and personal history. 

100 photographs of #61 jewel street

I recently discovered the work of artist John Monteith at the o'born contemporary gallery. I found this particular image so beautiful. From what I gather, the artist uses multiple images of the same scene, combines and layers them together to create vibrations and shifts. His work reminds me of the way we sometimes remember time, place and history. Memory can be blurry, seductive and even idealized.

If you're in Toronto, go see the show. It's up until January 29, 2011.

100 Photographs of #61 Jewel Street, Archival giclée print

cinematic light : artist michael harrington

I came across the paintings of Canadian artist, Michael Harrington while strolling down Queen Street West in Toronto last weekend. Katherine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects had the top painting (Lookout! oil on canvas 40x60 inches) in the window and I had to stop and inquire. I love the melancholy, Edward Hopper-like quality to his work. They are almost sad, mundane scenes featuring no one or no place in particular. I LOVE the cinematic quality of light executed in a way that doesn't look overworked. There's a certain looseness to his technique that I find so beautiful.

monet brought to life

Museums are increasingly paying attention to and painstakingly designing the online versions of their exhibitions these days (check out the The MoMA's recent online exhibitions). This website for Monet's 2010 show at the Galeries Nationales in Paris (opening this October) designed by Creative Director Olivier Bienaimé of Les 84 in Paris was particularly worth sharing. It offers such a beautiful experience of Monet's work through animations and interactivity of his paintings. It loads painfully slow but it is worth the wait. This is a great example of how an experience, learning and feeling can be presented in such an imaginative way. These still images captured from the site doesn't do justice to the work. It is in the treatment of the transitions that are most beautiful to me. You need to see for yourself here. I would actually love to see the "Journey" section as a whole film version of the exhibition. This website might almost be a more interesting (at least very different) way to learn about Monet and his life's work than just viewing static versions of his paintings hanging in a gallery. Not only that, it allows everyone to experience the show, not just people who will be physically visiting the exhibition in Paris.  

inspired expression : andre petterson

Another inspiring discovery in Montreal was the work of Andre Petterson. I responded immediately to
the paintings' reference to dance. They're a celebration of movement, performance, femininity
and expression – in addition to the fact that they're just visually stunning. I adore them. They are
half abstract expressionist and half representational. All love. 

Photos 1, 2 and 6 are my own, 3, 4 and 5 are from Bau-Xi Gallery website.

inspired weightlessness : lysanne pepin

A walk through Old Montreal this past weekend brought so much inspiration (several posts worth!) that I had to share. One of my favourites were these paintings by artist and fashion boutique owner Lysanne Pepin. Her work caught my eye through the window of her clothing boutique called Espace Pepin. I was instantly captivated. I adore her large print/painting series on wood entitled Weightlessness. Elements of water, femininity, sensuality, movement, dance – including birth and death are called to mind when I look at these paintings. The artist utilizes the grain of the wood surface to evoke the look of water ripples – which I adore. I can't stop looking at them. 

If you're ever around Old Montreal, stop by the gallery/store. Watch the beautiful films that are part of the same collection of work here.

More photos from my Montreal trip to come... 

Here's the top painting above entitled Shadow shown installed at the gallery/store

inspired by wetlands : allison stewart

Allison Stewart is a New Orleans-based artist that derives much of her inspiration from the wetlands of Louisiana. It is with
particular poignancy that I feature her work in light of the Gulf oil disaster. I could not even imagine how she must feel
about what's been going on, the affect this will have on her work. I am so in love with her paintings. I love the abstraction
and the seeing evidence of her process and intention. She also uses music as a metaphor for her painting process,
the layering of sounds being similar to painting – having depth and fluidity. Beautiful.

All images from Markel Fine Arts

pedestriana : the work of artist steven marshall

What I appreciate the most about the work of British contemporary artist Steven Marshall is the way he finds beauty in such mundane scenarios:
crowds and pedestrians. In fact, these series of paintings are entitled Pedestriana. The third dimension in these paintings is achieved through the
use of glass. It's a refreshing approach — contrasting our everyday experience of so much digitized imagery but also clearly influenced by it.
I love this work! 

inspired landscapes and light : artist dan gualdoni

These beautiful, monochromatic paintings are the work of artist Dan Gualdoni. I came across his work at this weekend's Affordable Art Fair (which as it turns out, isn't necessarily very affordable). Apparently, these paintings are done using printer's inks. I love these minimalist, sombre landscapes. I love the light quality and translucency in them. I'm drawn to the beautiful – almost urban – colour palettes. The paintings are all entitled "Fata Morgana" (and then numbered) which means 'mirage' in Italian. I appreciate seeing the loose, broad strokes. There's enough abstraction in each one which allows the viewer to create a personal interpretation. Nothing about these paintings feel overworked. I'm truly mesmerized.

eric blum's no.590 painting up close

I didn't make it to Eric Blum's art opening last weekend, thanks to asthma. But I made my way to the gallery this weekend. I wish my photos of this one, entitled No. 590, could give a sense of the depth of it's layers. It's something that's really worth going to see up close. I also didn't mind the faint scent of beeswax in the air from the paintings. I just love his work. One day, I would love to own one.

Check it out in person (along with a few other pieces) at the Gallery Satori in the Lower East Side. Or see one of my numerous posts about his work.

inspired light : EVOL

The work I found most exciting at Scope Art in New York this year was by a German artist called EVOL. I don't know much about him/her except an incredible skill of utilizing the material (in this case cardboard) to it's fullest, making these paintings so much about the surface they are painted on. There's clearly an interest in both architecture and graffiti. I am so impressed with the quality of light, the realism that simultaneously celebrates the texture of the cardboard. Incredible.

Check out more of EVOL's work on the Wilde Gallery website. The first three images were taken with my iPhone.

All photos below from the Wilde Gallery

inspired expression : cate holt

I recently reconnected with an old friend of mine, Cate Holt. She and I worked together years ago as designers. She also happens to be an incredibly talented painter. I was thrilled to see that since we last saw one another, she had really pursued her painting. I visited her studio and had a fascinating chat with her about her work.

I love abstract expressionist paintings on general. I particularly love the way Cate uses color in her work. It's really unlike many that I have seen (my exposure to abstract expressionist paintings is, relative to hers, limited). She says her work always references the body in some way. Not unlike a lot of abstract expressionists, she works very intuitively and doesn't have a clear plan of what the end result will be — which is the beauty of this type of work. Recently she's been playing around with using words in her paintings. What I also found to be a very interesting part of her process is that she apparently goes through a "hump", so to speak. It's at about the mid-point from completion of a painting where she feels she "hates" what she's done, before she resolves and completes each piece. She says she goes though the same process each and every time. I love the fact that part of the process of creation, the energy, the moments of intention are evident in her work. I so envy those who use their hands all day (instead of clicking away on computers).

Below are a few of my favourites and a few photos I took from her studio. I always find someone's workspace reveals more insight on how someone works, the tools they use and it makes me appreciate the work that much more.

Thanks to Cate for the studio visit! Really beautiful work.

augusti puig for vicky christina barcelona

I watched many films over the holidays (the other activity aside from eating). Some of them for a second time. Vicky Christina Barcelona was one of them. Definitely one of my favourite films from 2008. Watching it again reminded me of how much I absolutely loved the paintings featured in the film. I had to find out who the artist was. I learned that it is Augusti Puig. He contributed his canvases and studio materials for the film even taught Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem his technique to prepare them for their roles. I love his enormous canvases of abstract expressionist paintings. I would love to own one!