"Linger", Installation Shot at the Corridor Gallery, Toronto
All these recent drawings are large enough that they start to play tricks with perspective as you walk across in front of them. Working large is such a joy, and so much easier than working small (as long as you have the studio space). So much more room to walk around in (almost literally) But I had not anticipated this effect on viewers when installed.
2015-2017. Exhibited in part at the David Kaye Gallery in Toronto.
The original working title for this body of work was "Hush". I had started out with the personal challenge of exploring my response to social media, corporate surveillance and manipulation, and the apparent loss of our private self. Truly meant as an exploration, not a harangue.
However, as I got more and more into the imagery, I realized that what I was actually doing was exploring story telling through making marks. In fact, that is exactly what I have been doing all my life through all my work and shows. SO...I changed the title to "Smudge". A more direct reference to my current preferrred media of choice: charcoal.
The Corridor Gallery is aptly named. A long well-lit corridor converted to a gallery space. Regardless of the work, the long narrow dimensions invite a "narrative" interpretation of the work on the walls. While stepping back distance isn't great, this narrative impulse really supports my work.
Dinner for One
Three panels. Each panel 50 in x 60 in. Charcoal, carbon pencil, spray paint, collage, on paper. The one work in the series that truly addresses the essential loneliness engendered by social media. A lone cell phone connecting to a communications satellite. BUT having finished the triptych, I realized that all the work was really an excuse for me to draw that one lone pea on the plate.
Dinner for One, detail right pahel
Somehow looking at this solitary pea makes me smile. The kind of thing that I could contemplate for hours.
Detail, Dinner for One, middle panel
A close up of all the crazy energy being absorbed and then sent out again by the communications satellite.
Three panels. Each panel 50 in x 60 in. Charcoal, carbon pencil, spray paint, collage, on paper. The central image is an empty hotel corridor. But as you walk down it you realize that there are people on the other side of all the doors. Watching you through the peepholes? Paranoic, possibly.
Lingering Odour, detail middle panel
Can't you just smell the funky musk of cleaning products, dust and human habitation.
The Hum of Changing Opinion
Three panels. Each 50 in x 60 in. Charcoal, carbon pencil, spray paint through hand cut stencils on paper. With acknowledgement to a song jointly composed by Paul Simon and Philip Glass. In this case, people listening in on each other - seemingly unbeknownst. I had used my partner and our son as models. When this piece was exhibited, a lot of parental viewers identified quite passionately with the relationship of mother and son.
Three panels. Each panel 50 in x 60 in. Charcoal, carbon pencil, spray paint, collage, on paper. I have always thought of transmission towers as objects of both fascination and fear. As a kid, I always would imagine climbing them. Like giant skeletal insects striding across the landscape. All that material, industry and effort just to illuminate this lone porch light. Beacon of hope in the darkness? Nah, too corny. More like a reminder of hot nights and fluttering moths.
Approximate 50 in x 15 feet. Charcoal, carbon pencil, spray paint, collage and a whole lot of other stuff on paper. Based on a view that always attracts me when I walk my dog at twilight. (looking north from St. Clair Ave. West along Rockcliffe Road in the west end). Another excuse to play with the idea of hydro towers. Jets regularly use this route as part of their flight pattern to Pearson Airport. In this case, it would seem that the landing jet is about to experience some turbulence - both physical and metaphysical. This drawing was featured prominently at a recent Annual Drawing Exhibition at the John B. Aird gallery in Toronto.
Approximately 50 in x 11 feet. Charcoal, carbon pencil, spray paint through stencils, latex paint, collage on paper. A riff on the difference between "emerging/flying" and "falling/jumping". Lots of fun for me just playing with nuanced texture.
The Open Palm of Desire
Three panels. Each 22 in x 30 in. With acknowledgement to more lyrics by Paul Simon. And ok, really nothing to do with social media - except maybe the effects of the ravages of time on real physical presence. The source of this image is a row of unkempt garden gnomes in the neighbourhood where I live. Good ol' Snow White looks positively syphlitic.
TMI (too much information)
Three panels. Each panel 50 in x 60 in. Charcoal, carbon pencil, spray paint on paper. Another rfiff on the theme of physical degradation. That's my self portrait in the middle. I am a cancer survivor twice over. One summer I had to undergo radiation treatment daily for 7 weeks. The process wreaked havoc on my digestive tract. SO...the two outer panels are my emotional/imagined map of my insides. About the three blue dots. Yes, as with any radiation treatment, I have received three blue dots as tattoos across my abdomen to help target the radition beam.
Flesh Conjuring Eternity
Three panels. Each 50 in x 60 in. Charcoal, carbon pencil, coloured pencil on paper. Something about the parallels between the actual horrible physical conditions endured in human trafficking and individual emotional claustrophobia and the intense desire to escape.
Detail, Flesh Conjuring Eternity, middle panel
Two panels. Each 50 in x 60 in. Charcoal, carbon pencil, spray paint through handcut stencils on paper. A last concession to my original idea of "hush", as in secrets. This drawing is comprised of two split portraits making one. I am on the left, and my partner Sue on the right. After 40 adventurous years together, we don't have any secrets left. But I am speculating on what secrets could be uncovered if humans could truly read each other's minds.
A Simple Story About An Old Guy Who Wishes On Luck
Twelve panels. Each panel 8.5 in x 11 in. Digitally processed imagery, charcoal, carbon pencil, collage, on personally distressed paper. Giving full reign to my ever present storytelling impulse. An excuse to digitally re-contextualize (aka torture) some much larger earlier drawings (the hands). I have re-represented this series, in what I feel is quite a compelling artist-made book.
A Simple Story..., detail
I had drawn the hand gestures some time previously. But I was never really happy with them (been there, done that too often before). By playing with them on the computer, freed me from whatever preciousness I felt toward them. Allowing me to twist, push and pull - both digitally and physically. I have fully abused each panel with a rotary sander (gotta love power tools!)
A Simple Story..., detail.
The story goes like this. An old codger is walking along and spies an abandonned wallet on the sidewalk. Just as he bends down to pick it up, a pie which has been thrown at him whizzes by. My partner, Sue, insists that I am not this old guy (sure feels like it some days)
Six panels. Each panel, 22 in x 20 in. Charcoal, carbon and coloured pencils on paper. The four inner panels depict a forested path where I often walk my dog at night. The two portraits at either end are meant to be me. Something about acknowledging the intrinsic and intense subjectivity of any creative process.