Thursday, February 03, 2011

Little Black Book - The Drake Hotel, Toronto. Feb. 11th to Apr. 18th

February 11 - April 18, 2011
The Drake Hotel
1150 Queen St. W. Toronto, Canada 001 416 531 5042

Drake’s mid-winter exhibition highlights a group of international artists who are on the edge of something great. These painters, sculptors and installation artists are all at different points in their careers – ranging from a recent grad to a museum veteran, all working in a wide range of media. Brought together loosely by a mutual fascination with pop-culture and a refined sense of craft, these artists have held our attention for sometime, consistently creating thought-provoking works that are at once on the cutting-edge of new directions, yet filled with familiar references that keep us coming back for more. So, this is it: a Little Black Book of artists and projects that have been so inspiring that, at one time, we would have been tempted to keep them secret!

The show opens with a vestibule installation by L.A-based Alise Spinella, a recent graduate of CalArts acclaimed Masters program. We’ve had an eye on Spinella since her early school days and have been struck by how her sculptures expand on the painterly space, much like the work of Jessica Stockholder, but in more ephemeral and seemingly spontaneous ways.

Three paintings fill the chalk board in the front lobby. These works by New York’s Scooter LaForge are a newer discovery, having participated in a recent show with Drake-alumni Shoplifter. A mix of Saturday-morning-cartoons and German Expressionism, these paintings are familiar yet totally fresh.

The back lobby features a painting by Australian Anthony Lister, a street artist who has been turning heads in the fine art community for the last few years with successful gallery shows and hybrid projects like the Hello Kitty Pop-Up Shop during Art Basel|Miami Beach. Lister has a knack for turning our most beloved pop-culture figures on their heads with a wry wit and deft brushwork.

Wil Murray combines the explosive painterly energy of Les Automatistes with vibrant patterns that are reminiscent of background details from vintage Loony Tunes cartoons. Here the painting spills over the confines of the canvas, filling the hotel stairs with vibrant abstract colour and the subtle suggestions of wallpaper patters, balcony railings and landscape details slipping across the screen on a Saturday morning.

The staircase to the Underground has been re-imagined with a new permanent installation by celebrated Canadian artist Ken Lum. Jim and Susan’s Motel illustrates Lum’s keen interest in the tension between the marketing of public messages and more private exchanges.

NYC’s Patrick Griffin shares Lum’s interest in messaging, replicating vintage lapel buttons. Polka dotting the walls, these buttons transcend the clichéd phrases and quaint sayings of the original, with a new preciousness, hand-crafted in sizes that stretch 2ft across.

Special thanks go to Show and Tell Gallery and Galerie Push who made this exhibition possible.

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