The end of September is one of those perfect times in the year; the honey-coloured light, the tension between perfection and decay, new clothes and sharpened pencils, and suddenly, Gallery Weekend!
Everything feels tentative after this long period of fear, isolation and lockdown. I enter cautiously: masked, distanced, with proof of a second dose ready on my phone.
Will this city ever feel carefree again?
Maybe next year.
Bill Burns at MKG127
At MKG127 Bill Burns is into the third year of his slow performance, described below:
Bill began his slow performance called variously The Great Trade or The Great Donkey Walk in Amden Switzerland in 2018. With the help of two Donkeys, Bill carried salt from the local salt mine up some gentle slopes in the Swiss Alps and so this project began. Goat milking, donkey walking, sheep shearing, honey rendering, cheese making and occasionally country singing are Bill’s modes. This exhibition includes several dozen drawings that Bill refers to as “pre-documents”, pictures that depict events that have yet to occur, as well as “documents”, pictures of events that have already occurred.MKG127 handout
The numerous drawings — which are small, pale, delicate watercolours, featuring text, which is sometimes descriptive and sometimes not — were apparently ripped from Bill Burns’ notebooks and then meticulously framed and hung in tight grids.
It’s such a liberating concept of what art could be: slow, thoughtful, lots of unexpected twists, delightful objects that spin off the activities and make sense in terms of the internal logic of the piece, big questions to mull over.
I have yet to witness a Bill Burns performance but I am excited to report that I will attend one October 8th, at the Oculus on the Humber River Trail.
In the meantime, I appreciate the meandering, round about, surprising way this artwork touches on so many aspects of our present day world: Where does all the stuff that we have come from? How do things get done, made, traded, shipped, bought and sold? What is our connection to farms, to animals? What kind of hierarchies govern our lives? Our we wasting our time rushing around, getting, and spending? What does time even mean now?
I really like the way Bill Burns uniquely speculates, slows down and simplifies contemporary life, teases it apart and offers it to us — with a light and playful touch — for consideration.
And what about Donkeys? They are so appealing. I learned the following on The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada website:
Donkeys have been a cornerstone in human existence and they still prop up entire communities today, ferrying water, food and crops.
Marcel Van Eeden at Clint Roenisch
Marcel Van Eeden is a major Dutch artist. I learned this from the many publications available at the Client Roenisch gallery, on the occasion of this exhibition, titled “Stolen Pictures.”
According to Client Roenisch, there is a key to this artist’s obsessive rendering of imagery which existed prior to his own birth. Marcel Van Eeden came into this world on November 22, 1963. Yes, that was the day JFK was murdered in Dallas! Even as a child Marcel Van Eeden saw the coincidence of the assassination of JFK and the beginning of his own life as an almost mystical nexus.
Marcel Van Eeden’s creative production has been to draw everything – “the light, the architecture, the travel, the people, the cities, the familiar, the foreign, the intrigue, the art, the violence, literally everything” — from the period including the start of photography and concluding at the moment of his own birth.
The drawings in the main gallery at Clint Roenisch — which all reference a distant art theft, including text and locale — are huge, powerful, intensely black (rendered in charcoal), and extremely elegant. They have a certain reckless vitality that also manages to be very precise.
There are also some small paintings, some in colour, also referencing the past, which is moving further and further away from Marcel Van Eeden.
I found this video on You Tube. It goes deep into the practice of this fascinating artist, his relentless drawing and his obsessions. There is very little talking in the video, although at one point the artist does explain his underlying motivations and what he’s getting at and why and just what its all about and so on… but then, of course, I don’t speak Dutch.
Rae Johnson at Christopher Cutts Gallery
At the Christopher Cutts Gallery Rae Johnson’s paintings are on display. Sweeping vistas and low horizons, serene and majestic, filled with awe and reverence, these paintings express a deep and joyful love of nature and an acknowledge of the stark indifference we are all faced with — in our brief, frantic lives — as we look out, in a moment of calm, on this astonishing world.
The show is called “Of Light and Dark” Water, Land and Sky Paintings: 1989-2009.
In many of her paintings, not shown here, Rae Johnson has depicted archetypes of depravity and redemption, populated by lonely, dreamlike sylphs in dimly lit nighttime haunts, or caught in painful scenes under a harsh fluorescent glare. This exhibition is another side of Rae Johnson’s work. Here, she is enthralled by the elements: air, light and colour
I wanted to bring the sublime into people’s existence.Rae Johnson
It’s so uplifting to wander around the Chris Cutts Gallery, look at Rae’s paintings and realize that yes, she definitely succeeded in her goal.