Visual Arts: Genius Loci at the Art Gallery of Mississauga Sept 13- Nov 4 2012

From a media release:

Genius Loci
Art Gallery of Mississauga
September 13 – November 4, 2012
Curator | R. Stuart Keeler

Contemporary artists re-imagine and respond to iconic visual art depictions of the Canadian landscape.

Opening Reception: Thursday, September 13, 6 pm
• All are invited to attend the Opening Reception. Admission to the Gallery is FREE.
• FREE bus from The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St W, Toronto) at 6pm to the Reception. Bus returns at 8pm.
• Opening Night Performance, How to Draw a Drawing, by Swapnaa Tehane and Aman Sandhu

Yael Brotman, Susan Collacott, Kara Hamilton, Micah Lexier, Immony Men, Don Maynard, Jon Sasaki,  Aman Sandhu, Swapnaa Temhane, Jessica Thompson, Gu Xiong

A.J. Casson, Franklin Carmichael, Emily Carr, Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, David Milne, Tom Thomson, F.H. Varley

Genius Loci – a spirit of place that informs and identifies the history or destiny of a region.

How do contemporary art practices begin to translate the iconic Canadian sense of place?  Cultural Geographer Denis Cosgrove muses that landscape is an ideological concept:

“It represents a way in which certain classes of people have signified themselves and their worlds through their imagined relationship to nature, and through which they have underlined and communicated their own social role and that of others with respect to nature.”

Image: Left: Tom Thomson, Palette, wood, paint, 58.3 x 38.7 cm x 0.8 cm. Image courtesy of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
Right: Jon Sasaki, Microbes Swabbed from Palettes Used By Casson, Thomson and Varley. (production photo) object courtesy of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

The Group of Seven, lauded as the centre point of the canon of Canadian art, has largely leaned upon the notion of landscape and seeing the terrain of the north anew.  To be “Canadian” implies a particular relationship to the land and this too has been characterized by “otherness” with the use of classical stereotypes which cause for a type of estrangement.

Exhibition Curator Stuart Keeler worked with emerging and established artists to explore works from noted collections of Canadian Art – The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, The Tom Thomson Gallery and The Art Gallery of Mississauga Permanent Collection.  The contemporary artist’s vision opens conversation and creates questioning and thinking alongside notions of landscape.  Natural and urban contexts are explored and presented within a Canadian and international perspective.

· John Sasaki “swabbed” the paint palettes of A.J. Casson, Tom Thomson and F.H. Varley from the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and is growing bacteria specimens from these swabs.  This investigation creates an interesting dialogue about authenticity, landscape and the vision of the artist.

· Vancouver-based painter Gu Xiong composes his communist propaganda portraits alongside works by Tom Thomson, AJ Casson, Emily Carr and A.Y Jackson on loan from the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

· Micah Lexier has taken a drawing by A.Y. Jackson and composed his brand of conceptual juxtapositions by mining the museological display methods alongside the miniature drawing by the master. The composition reminds us of individual narratives and anecdotes.

The goal of the exhibition is to open dialogue about the experience of the natural world through real or imagined existence that challenges our own sense of Genius Loci.  Through the experience of art, has the Landscape become an object of imagination rather than an experience?

· Sound Artist Jessica Thompson has researched Lawren Harris’ South End of Maligne Lake (c1925) and created an intimate, connective, digital experience. The painting will be presented next to her viewer-activated sound landscape composed of GPS mapping and data entry, overlapped onto the public space outside the gallery.

· Unlike Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, Susan Collacott looks to the Niagara Region for her landscape inspiration. Her lush, masterful brushstrokes and strong, modernist gestures remind us that a personal landscape is never too far away.

The subtext of modernity is that there is no need for nostalgia. Canadiana, however, is concerned with the notion of nostalgia as national identity; as well, it creates and maintains authenticity of place. This exhibition connects artists of Canadian Art history with contemporary artists in response to notions of landscape, identity and place.  Can this exploration begin to investigate a sense of power over the experience of Genius Loci?

Top: Don Maynard, Log Jam, 2009, 9 cedar logs, bamboo barbecue sticks
Third: Susan Collacott, Animal Lair, Blue Caves, acrylic on canvas

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