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Posts Tagged ‘Xpace’

Limbo
Joshua Barndt
Jan 8th – Feb 6th 2010
XPACE Cultural Centre
Xbase

Joshua Barndt - Limbo - 2010 (Installation shot from Barndt's website)

As I boldly stepped into the basement of XPACE I entered another world or environment created by Joshua Barndt. A new world at the end of the world, the limbo after an Apocalypse. Remnants of old cars buried in mounds soil, revealing convenient tiered spaces for wild gardens. Amongst these remains, Barndt planted wheat grass which grew in perfectly straight lines; seeming synthetic in their stiffness, but organic in actuality.  I witnessed one viewer who was unsure of the nature of the grass then, I gasped,  he pulled some of the grass out of the installation to further examine whether or not it was plastic or organic. Conversely, I asked a gallery attendant, though I did kneel and examined, with my eye, the grass trying to guess whether it was plastic or biological. Despite the viewer’s destruction, I should applaud Barndt for creating such a thoroughly illusionistic installation causing a viewer to have to pull apart the work to be convinced of its organic nature.*

Lights in the installation were strategically placed to provided limited illumination as well as energy for the grass to grow. The wheat grass was freshly planted, since I could still see the soil surrounding the individual blades of grass. I admittedly went and saw Limbo the first day it opened, which has constantly made me think back to exhibition and how it must look now. Did the grass survive? It is more lush? How does it smell now? Has the discarded trash vanished in a sea of green? I am imagining it growing (bad pun) and changing while I am away from it. I am always curious about how it will look from one day to the next and that is why I enjoyed this installation. Limbo is different every time a viewer visits it. Limbo is a rare installation that I wanted and encouraged others to visit more than once.

* As a general courtesy, one should never touch or move a work of art without the expressed permission of the Artist.  Not touching, while difficult, will save you and the Artist the anguish of damaging a work of art. If you are unsure whether it is appropriate to touch the work, ask the gallery attendant first.

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Static and Loss
Martin Kuchar and Andrew MacDonald
XPACE Cultural Centre
January 8th 2010 – February 6th 2010
58 Ossington Ave., Toronto

Bold, vibrant, colourful, unique and playful; these words struck me the moment I entered the Static and Loss exhibition by OCAD alumni, Martin Kuchar and Andrew MacDonald. Unlike many two person shows, Kuchar and MacDonald’s work flow together creating an immersive installation, blending the two artists’ work into one fluid concept. Kuchar presents a series of collaged paper works and MacDonald a series of knitted sculptures.

On the walls of the gallery are Martin Kuchar’s large paper based works resembling pixels. These pixel-like structures exhibit an obsession with the miniscule, which is then blown up to a monumental, but surprisingly intimate, scale. The collaged paper is spray painted and laboriously cut into angular shapes. On closer examination one can see that these works are comprised of hundreds of individual pieces painstakingly pinned and taped to the wall and assembled on location. Kuchar’s collage is constantly in motion, as each time it is assembled it will change, allowing for it to have endless variation. Kuchar’s interlocking Borgesian labyrinth at times resembles an intimate conversation with, in the case of Add Inches (2009), Tetris or, in Meltdown (2009), Space Invaders. Kuchar’s work exudes seriousness and commitment, but insinuates playfulness and the verisimilitude of chaos.

Andrew MacDonald’s sculptures are made from plastic household objects, a combination of found sweaters and manually-operated machine knit textiles created by the artist. The sculptures are a contrast of hard plastic forms and pillowing organic forms covered in knitted textile. Each sculpture has its own quirky personality, and each is connected through being both a tragedy and a comedy. For example, Heavy Hands (2008) resembles a stitched together monster that is bound by its exceptionally large hands, thin arms and tiny legs. I cannot help but laugh at Heavy Hands‘ out of proportion misfortune, but feel sadness for its crippling affliction. It is the hardness of modern sculpture, contrasted to the warmth of brightly coloured knitted skins, that create the juxtaposition of comedy and tragedy. MacDonald also presents a series of monochromatic works, including a wall hung abstracted knitted animal head, that I could not help but imagine how fantastic it would look in my home.

The combination of the two artists’ work is complimentary and visually dynamic. Kuchar’s large paper works create a static pixelated context for MacDonald’s sculptures. Static and Loss is a unique, humourous, but complex two person exhibition.

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Believe it or not, Art History is Dangerous. Srsly.

Greetings and salutations. I am finally back in the Ldot after a long winter vacation in the countryside. I completely understand landscape painters; time spent outdoors is exhilarating. Wandering around wooded areas with the family is much more entertaining than sitting in front of the television. Moving on to my adventures.

I spent last Friday in Toronto at XPACE Cultural Centre. It was the opening for Andrew MacDonald and Martin Kuchar‘s exhibition Static and Loss. In a nutshell, I thoroughly enjoyed their show.  Kuchar’s complex paper based works are a mesmerizing mix of optical illusion, colour and tetris-like blocks. Each piece is laboriously spray painted and pinned to the wall. While these wall works looked very solid, I got the impression that if I touched or removed one block from the composition, the entire piece would collapse into an elegant pile of leaves. MacDonald’s knitted sculptures complimented Kuchar’s hand woven paper works. MacDonald showed both monochromatic sculptures as well as brightly panelled and patterned works. Each sculpture had its own unique personality, a little bit tragic and a little comedic. I will have full reviews on Static and Loss, as well as Say Your Preyers Window Space Installation by Jesi The Elder and the basement installation, Limbo by Joshua Barndt  at XPACE in the next few days.

I’ve been busy this week preparing my brand spanking new course. Yes, once again I am teaching. I started off feeling like the new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts; I declared that my course must be cursed. Everything that could have gone wrong did. I ended up having to use the archaic chalk board, but I was resolved to do well and I went on my merry way.  At least it was an introduction day, which means I could manage without images. Overall I think it should be an interesting group. I enjoyed myself, but it was rather disheartening to talk about Art and have no images.

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