Saturday, April 28, 2007

Søren Lose

Berlin-based artist Søren Lose scours antique shops, flea markets and abandoned houses, in search of vintage photographs, negatives, or perhaps, an old camera that may harbour a long-forgotten roll of film.

Søren Lose, The Rhodes Lead (Hippocratus Square), 2001, 26 x 16in/66 x 40cm

The resulting images bridge past and present. Through Lose’s vision, these vintage photographs are presented in new and sometimes, unexpected ways. Offering a window into a personal history, seen through the filter of post-modern abstraction. In the case of The Rhodes Lead series, that abstraction is naturally occurring swirls of colour, the result of damage to the negatives over decades of neglect. Look beyond the surface, and notice series follows a young woman, walking through the streets of Rhodes, an island in the Greek Archipelago.

Søren Lose, The Rhodes Lead (Gate) diptych (part 2), 2001, 26 x 31in/66 x 80cm

She appears in sharp contrast to her ancient surroundings, tall and slender, striding over cobble stone streets in a pale blue pantsuit, her dark curling hair cropped in a bob. These may simply be innocent vacation photos, perhaps a sort of homecoming. But without an image of her face, the whole series is cast in a mysterious, possibly even sinister light. However, the viewer is pulled back from crime-drama inspired questions, but the abstract areas of colour, making the images seem more painterly than documentary.

Søren Lose, The Rhodes Lead (Tourist), 2001, C print, 26 x 16in/66 x 40cm

The source material for the Hotel series is similar to that for Rhodes Lead – anonymous vacation shots from the 1960’s. However, here Lose digitally layers the images, creating a subtle meditation on time and space.

These days, anyone can be an auteur, but in the years after WWII bringing out a camera was a minor event and one can imagine the novelty of taking pictures in an exotic destination to later share with friends and family back home. To ensure he/she had one great image, the photographer bracketed the shot. Taking several photos at different exposures over a few seconds.

With Lose’s deft intervention, we now have a taste of that sliver of time. Los Gigantes stands in crisp vertical letters in the top left corner, while the rest of the image seems to flicker with shadows and ghosted figures.

Søren Lose, Hotel Series (Los Gigantes), 2004, light-jet print on dibond, approx. 4 x 6ft.

Søren Lose is a Danish artist, currently living in Berlin. Later this year, he will show at Houston Fotofest; Sancheng Art Gallery, Shanghai, China and Nordische Botschaften, Berlin.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sergei Sviatchenko

Sergei Sviatchenko, Wallpaper (detail), 2007, digital inkjet print, veriable dimensions

Sergei Sviatchenko has enjoyed a long and distinguished career; first as an architect, then a critically acclaimed abstract painter and more recently as a globe-hopping conceptual artist, working in performance, video and installation. With his current Wallpaper series, the artist bridges some of contemporary art's most divergent and conflicting themes. Namely, the role of art to challenge social issues, and broaden notions of beauty, while at the same time, functioning as a decorative object.

Sergei Sviatchenko, Wallpaper (detail), 2007, digital inkjet print, veriable dimensions

Gathering images from every imaginable source – from supermarket fliers to porn magazines and everywhere in between – Sviatchenko constructs intimate collages with a truly Dada spirit. These image vignettes are at times, startling, absurd, critical and hilarious; each one a sophisticated work in its own right. But Sviatchenko ups the ante by layering them digitally on a checkerboard pattern of intense, day-glow colour. The resulting inkjet prints are produced and installed like wallpaper. Calling into question both ends of the conceptual spectrum – where does the intellectual challenge of contemporary art end and where does decoration begin, and vice versa.

Sergei Sviatchenko, Wallpaper (detail), 2007, digital inkjet print, veriable dimensions

Sergei Sviatchenko’s collage-based installations have been shown across Europe, the USA and Australia. Recent exhibitions include Galleria Arturarte, Rome, which recieved wide-spread media coverage In the last year he has collaborated with art and culture publications, such as This Is A Magazine, Dazed & Confused and Kilimanjaro.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Isabelle Hayeur

In a few short weeks, Montreal-based artist Isabelle Hayeur will transform the facade of the Drake with Untitled Legacy, a photograph that will stretch over 40 feet, across the front of the hotel. Untitled Legacy is part of Contact's Public Installations series, one of ten epic artworks situated throughout the city.

At first glance Untitled Legacy may appear to be a detailed reflection of the Queen West neighbourhood, surrounding the Drake. However, upon closer examination the view begins to unravel, revealing a composite image of the area so true to life as to constitute digital trompe l’oeil. Hayeur’s process of isolating landscape elements from various photographs and then fusing them together into a new, finely distilled image subtly reveals the tensions inherent in an urban neighbourhood in transition.

Below is a sliver of a detail, from Isabelle's monumental installation:

Isabelle Hayeur has exhibited extensively throughout North America and Europe. Recent commissions include projects for Noorderlicht Photography & Wall, Groningen, Netherlands, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal and Netwerk center for contemporary art, Aalst, Belgium. Hayeur is represented in Toronto by Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, Toronto.

Special thanks go out to Trinity Square Video, The Images Festival and The Drake Hotel for granting the artist a residency to work on the project. Also to The Contact Photography Festival and Beyond Digital Imaging for their assistance and support in seeing the installation through to completion.