Dirty in Toronto: Kim Stanford’s Show at Gallery 1313

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In Toronto’s COOLEST area Queen West, Gallery 1313 is currently displaying its newest exhibition Dirty (May 15th– May 26th). Dirty, by Kim Stanford replicates mundane objects such as socks within the given space as an exploration “into larger, absurd work that both attracts and repels, and opens a conversation about the universal dialectic between the taken-for-granted and a search for meaning.” After having seen the piece (online but soon enough in the flesh), many interesting artists and ideas come to mind. It is interesting to sees these parallels and derive new and exciting interpretations for oneself, creating a new dialogue- which is exactly what this artist intends. Won’t you join me through this adventure? Read on, and come up with your own interpretation and let us know what you think?

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The title of the exhibition and the installation reminds me instantly of French artist Louise Bourgeois, specifically her piece Cumul I (above).  In this piece, Bourgeois explores the notions of sexuality and the Freudian concept of childhood trauma. These conglomerate round objects in Culmul I (seen as either penis or breasts- it has never been defined by the artist herself) reflects the repetition seen throughout Dirty. Could we say that Dirty, with its initial title can be seen as highly sexualised, allowing us to explore our own psychoanalytical metaphors?

The socks also play on the familiarity of objects, allowing the viewer to relate easily to the piece. Like the soft marble in Cumul I, the material plays with the familiar material marble used throughout Art History. Both of  these, use the familiarity of objects to create something appealing to look at, yet at the exact same time creating something repulsive.

To push this parrellel even further, upon entering Gallery 1313 the window gallery, holds an installation reminiscent of the socks, however hung together like sausages on a meathook. Could this get more Freudian or feministic – in the case of Bourgeois?

I will leave it you to follow your he(ART) and let your imagination run free. Let us know what you think, and take a stroll down to Gallery 1313 if your in town.

Peace Out, K

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The Controversial Chicken? Examining Miguel Suarez’s Performance @ Alberta College of Art and Design

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I have not ranted since my last article on Damien Hirst. Well here I go again…Recently, Professor Gordon Ferguson at ACAD (Alberta College of Art and Design in Canada) was FIRED (seriously a career down the drain over a chicken) after a performance piece by one of his students Miguel Suarez. This piece consisted of the artist taking a CHICKEN and slitting its throat in front of an audience in order to show the visceral act and process of consuming a chicken – maybe it will make you reconsider the conditions in which chickens are kept before they go into our tummys. Now, it might seem a bit strange, it is strange, but ART IS STRANGE.

What BOGGLES my mind is the absolute UPROAR and BACKLASH that the professor and artist received afterwards. Apparently, after the “horrific incident” counselors were brought to the school to consul the witnesses who had to endure this (ohhhhh soo tragic) event. Really, really? How many time’s have we seen in art the cruel realities of life? Between Abramovich cutting herself in various performances in which she purposely mutilated herself and Beuys’ living amongst a pack of wolves – you don’t find that absurd or difficult to understand? Or what about Chris Burden having someone shoot him on purpose? That does not bother you? Would you ever do that to yourself? The whole point is – it is in your control. If you knew this was going to be the performance and did not like the thought of it why did you attend? You could have protested? I’m sure PETA would have. Eh?

Peace Out, K

Canadian Kris Knight goes Botticielli-esque in His Series “Tragic Kingdom”

The romantic notion of art can be perfectly encapsulated in the Canadian based artist Kris Knight. His whimsical portraits not only portray elegantly painted human figures, but they are saturated with mysticism and romanticism. Yet, what is even more intriguing is how he is playing with sexual identities, voyeurism, psychotropic alterations, and the human gaze. Knight is unlike any other portraiture artist that I have come across so far – his paintings leave you with a sense of mystery and a desire to enter and discover the world that his figures are set in.

My first real interaction with this artist was when I was interning at Katharine Mulheim Contemporary Art Projects. Mr. Knight was to be our next upcoming artist for his exhibition – Tragic Kingdom, 2011. The curator had begun to describe the artist and his works. The show was to display Knight’s imaginary world where the shamed, bullied, and the tragic were to be the subjects of beauty. This secret society revolved around the so-called outcasts of society  – l’etranger (as Camus, ze French philosopher would put it) translated to “the others.” These subjects would live amongst this world in order to “transcend the tedium of small town life for the protection of the enchanted forest, banding together an exclusive and rustic regality.” However, this so called Utopia of misfits would take a tragic turn like the exhibition title expresses. Hierarchies ultimately arise and corruption soon follows. This exhibition not only displays the artist’s beautifully artistic hand, but paints us a fairy tale story rapidly turned sinister and corrupt.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I was to see the next day. Yes – Katharine Mulheim had explained the exhibition, but as the saying goes: a painting sometimes speaks louder than words. I was in AWE to open up the parcels of art. Most striking to me, and still haunts me to this day (in a good way) is his painting Fête (pictured above and to the left). The romanticism and mysticism is painted in the dark background as three young men walk quietly, lurkingthrough the dark mysterious woods. I had this unsettling feeling as if I was watching something I was not supposed to look at. I was voyeur preying on these young boys, but I could not look away. Fête had a very Bottecelli-esque feel- it was the contemporary painting of Bottecelli’s Primavera, 1482 (pictured below).  This unsettling feeling permeated my he(ART) and still haunts me to this day.


This artist is a must see, he does not solely paint portraits, but elaborates stories with his brush.

Peace Out, K

The Street is Their Canvas

Our Diamond Queen

For those of you who go GAGA for Street Art…boy will you he(ART) our latest recommendation. It’s pretty evident that one of our main focuses with this blog, is to show you all things art from around the world.

Now there are people that might think graffiti is a form of vandalization… because let’s face it, they are defacing property. So some would consider this one of the “lowest forms of art”. We here at CultureHe(ART)s say to those people SHOW YOUR FACES & STATE YOUR CASES!!!! Warhol’s paintings were once deemed “insignificant” and “ugly” (although we are MAJOR fans and do not see why) and NOW look. A piece by Andy can reach sky high price$$. Such is the case with Mr. van Gogh as well. But like we stated in a the previous article “A Bone to Pick with Mr. Hirst; My Spiel”, art should be done for the sake of art – and I think graffiti artists have taken this idea and run with it. The street is their canvas.

There is not one city in the world that you can walk down, without seeing some mural, wheat paste, or tag. For example, walking the streets of Soho in London we came across this uber fabulous graffiti image of the one and only Queen (and boy does she look splendid). There have been efforts made by some cities like Toronto where public figures such as their former Mayor Rob Ford wanted to obliterate the genre. It did not and has not gone down so smoothly.

These efforts have only strengthened artists and furthered their cause. Since we cannot be EVERYWHERE snapping pics of Urban Art…check out this website with Street Art from around the world – Street Art Utopia – ya dig?

Peace Out, K.