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.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Penelope Umbrico

New York-based artist Penelope Umbrico is contributing two series to this show, that will surround the grand staircase of the Drake. Seeming to float like bubbles up the wall, as one climbs the stairs, will be her Mirrors. For this series, images were sampled from decorating magazines, enlarged to the actual size of the mirror and reverse-mounted onto plexiglas. The objects themselves are flawless and jewel-like, while the images have a pixilated quality, reminiscent of pointillism.

Penelope Umbrico, selected works from the series Mirror (From Catalog), 2001-2007, archival digital print and plaxiglas, various sizes

Collapsing like a deck of cards, as one walks down the stairs, will be Umbrico's series Honeymoon Suite (Grounded). A collection of images of sunsets extracted from honeymoon vacation brochures and printed in a variety of sizes, that in effect, create an abstract staccato rhythm, lined up along a ledge on the wall. The piece will be positioned so that patrons will pass beneath the installation as they walk down the stairs.

Penelope Umbrico, Honeymoon Suite (Grounded), 2005, archival digital prints (installation shot, curtesy of p|m gallery

Penelope Umbrico is the chairperson of the MFA Photography program at Bard College. She has exhibited extensively throughout North America, as well as Europe and Asia; and her photo-based works are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, NYC and the International Centre for Photography, NYC, among others. Also this spring, Umbrico will have a solo show at Boston's Bernard Toale Gallery . For more information on the work of Penelope Umbrico, please contact me.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thomas Bangsted

This is the first in a series of posts I'll be doing on the individual artists in Looking The Other Way. To receive a pricelist or for more information on Thomas Bangsted's work, please contact me.

Thomas Bangsted's photographs are easily recognizable for being so carefully composed, so precisely balanced, so perfectly imperfect - one may suspect they are digitally composed. However, Bangsted is a purist, in a field of digital hybrids.

He has a wonderful way of setting up the shot, so that found locations are infused with a sly humour. Like the image below, where, in a remote field, he found a car and helicopter abandoned, nose-to-nose. It's as if an action movie from the 1970's suddenly came to a screeching halt.

Thomas Bangsted, Untitled (Car and Helicopter), 2004, C print, 30 x 40in

Thomas Bangsted, Norland, 2006, C print, 31 x 55in

This is a photographer in the truest sense, one who travels extensively with his camera. After selecting a scene, he studies the site to get just the right angle and then, at times, waits for hours for the light to be perfect. In Norland, seen above, one can imagine how long he had to wait for the sea and sky to melt seamlessly into each other.

Thomas Bangsted, Watering Place, 2005, C print, 40 x 47in

I must admit, this is one of my favourite images. It's so serious, so banal, save for the algae in the pond that makes it look like the cows are wading in a great dollop of mint frosting.

Thomas Bangsted's photographs have been exhibited at Fotografisk Center, Copenhagen and ecArt Space, London, among many others. This spring, the artist will graduate from Yale University with an MFA in photography. For more information on Thomas Bangsted's work, please contact me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Media Release

Looking The Other Way, curated by Mia Nielsen
May 3 to June 28, 2007 at the Drake Hotel,
Opening reception May 3rd, 7-9pm

Isabelle Hayeur . Thomas Bangsted . Søren Lose . Penelope Umbrico . Sergei Sviatchenko . Andreas Koch . Jesper Just

Looking The Other Way will bring acclaimed photo-based artists from across Northern Europe, The USA and Canada to Toronto for the Contact Festival, occupying The Drake Hotel from May 3 to June 28, 2007. In preparation for the opening, curator Mia Nielsen comments, “bringing together some of the best photo-based artists this generation has to offer, Looking The Other Way will examine how photographs incite or perhaps squelch desire – through photo-based installation and video works”.

Exhibition highlights include Untitled Legacy, a site-specific digital montage by Montreal’s Isabelle Hayeur, which will stretch over 40 ft across the façade of the building, included in Contact’s program of public installations. Internationally renowned Danish video artist Jesper Just presents a series of potent fairly tales. Berlin-based Søren Lose contributes beguiling photographs, made from found negatives and New York’s Penelope Umbrico will surround the grand staircase in two different installations, one seeming to float up the stairs, the other collapsing to the ground.

Curator, Mia Nielsen explains the background for the exhibition: “From travel snapshots to glossy magazines, photographs subtly influence our desires, shaping our expectations of places and how we remember experiences. However, photos often deliver skewed realities and subjective truths. Through digital technology, the darkroom and the viewfinder, the medium is malleable”.

For more information, images and to arrange interviews,
Please contact Mia Nielsen at or +416 342 0131

All images pictured above are details of the original and come courtesy of the artist.
Top row: Bangsted, Untitled; Umbrico, Mirror 004, Lose, The Rhodes Lead (Tourist)
Bottom: Sviatchenko, Wallpaper; Just, Something To Love; Hayeur Untitled Legacy

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Background

A year or so ago those 'in the know' at the Drake Hotel asked me to curate a show for them. I was naturally intrigued, the self-proclaimed "hot bed for culture" has transformed the Queen West corridor from modest bohemia to fashion forward, all in a few short years.

As I was considering the direction of the show, my brother mentioned seeing a series of commercials for condo developments, advertising their close proximity to the Drake. I, in turn, made a crack about what that commercial might have looked like 5 years earlier, before the Drake's cultural overhall, when it was a flophouse. This point was lost on my brother, he had no idea of the Drake's former incarnation. Which got me thinking about the power of images - to influence where one chooses to live, creating expectations of new places, sway how we choose the objects we surround ourselves with.

Looking The Other Way was born out of these questions. The show remains open ended, with no intention of defining 'answers'. More like walking around and letting it roll around in your mind, like a mint on your tongue.

A marvelous group of artists are featured in this show from Denmark, Germany, USA and Canada, including:

Thomas Bangsted
Isabelle Hayeur
Søren Lose
Sergei Sviatchenko
Jesper Just
Penelope Umbrico

Check back soon for images from the show, info on the artists involved and upcoming events.