A Spectacle and Nothing Strange
July 24, 2014 - August 23, 2014
asianpunkboy (Terence Koh)
Opens Thursday, July 24, 2014, 7-9 p.m.
The use of text has been a significant feature of artists’ practices over the past century. Within the gay community, language has functioned as a system of binding people to overcome the days when homosexuality was deemed, during Oscar Wilde’s lifetime, the love that dare not speak its name. This exhibition intends t0 explore the ways in which contemporary gay artists have used language in their art to explore their identity.
Playful manipulation of language is demonstrated in Luis Jacob’s work, a print derived from the action of him kissing a sheet of paper, a la Joyce Weilland, while singing the disco funk anthem, Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”. Keith Cole marries text and visual in collages derived from mass media and advertising as he draws upon popular culture.
Text can be immediate, and billboards and signage exemplify the commercial world, as demonstrated by the poster work of the late Toronto-based artist, Will Munro. Munro was one of Toronto’s most active promoters of queer culture over the past decade, and brought to Toronto such legendary music performers as The Hidden Cameras, Nina Hagen, Peaches, among others. His work with monthly events Vazaleen Peroxide, NoT.O. and Moustache yielded an astonishing amount of artist multiples; especially noteworthy is his work with silkscreen posters, produced in the collectively run Punchclock Studio.
In parallel, Los Angeles-based Eve Fowler took poetic licence with the early work of famed lesbian Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons, by working with now defunct commercial LA printer, Colby Press, to create signage which visually reference ubiquitous commercial signs posted on buildings and electrical poles throughout the city, while communicating information that is arguably non-immediate.
In a deeply personal work called dear folks, Todd Evanger mines meaning from a collection of handwritten letters, signed by the artist’s father, sent from the Boundary Lake oil field to Marsden, Saskatchewan, during the 1970s. In a different way, the narrative possibilities of text appeals to Jeffrey Hallbauer in a skillful watercolour that investigates the image-conscious element of gay culture that binds and divides it. Patryk Stasieczek’s photographic work, I Am You, all crumpled destruction and chromatic exposure as a form of conceptual engagement with the material process, poses a thoughtful philosophical response.
Artists have also looked at words as graphic signs in their own right. Terence Koh, as his early alias, asianpunkboy, created a text piece carved on painted metal called No Sissy Gays that employs a sensitive phrase as a method of an oppressed person reclaiming language.
Paul de Guzman’s new slideshow titled i need you investigates the phenomenon of mass communication of private desire, often closeted and hidden, on game-changing technology, Craigslist. He explores visual alliteration by entwining Craigslist M2M personal ads with deftly-chosen, phallicly-inspired architecture. The slideshow will be available on the internet during the exhibition dates at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdXoRsMoZJ0 and is best viewed using full screen settings at high definition with audio. Due to the sexually explicit text used in this slideshow, some parts may prove objectionable to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.
Attila Richard Lukacs’ explicit references to homoerotic sexuality in his paintings have often shocked galleries and the public. In a series of pure-text paintings, the inscribed text are both literal and resonant to those who have experienced the thrilling facets of dom / sub relationships.
Artists have, of course, also looked to language for its poetic impact and literary resonances. Like Eve Fowler, Brendan Fernandes’ text on wall contribution draws upon the daddy mentor / young mentee relationships illustrated in Plato’s Symposium and references his newest sculptural and recent performative dance work that looks at the intimate relation between embodiment and identity.
In all these cases, the openness, ambiguity and power of language has offered these artists the means to suggest, instruct, provoke, urge and compel the viewer to explore the multivalent and complex realms of gay existence in contemporary life beyond gallery walls. During this season of Pride spectacles, it’s thought provoking, but nothing strange.
Originally working under the alias asianpunkboy, Terence Koh designed zines and custom-made books, quickly cultivating a dedicated following. Koh’s work was included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial and the 2008 Yokohama Triennial. In 2008, he was a finalist for the Sobey Award. He was the subject of solo exhibitions at MUSAC, León, Spain; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland and the Vienna Secession, Austria amongst others. His work is in the permanent collections of such notable institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Tate Modern, London, England. He lives and works in New York.
Keith Cole’s artistic practice collides with the interdisciplinary art forms of theatre, dance, film and performance and the intersections that they can create. He has done film, television and performance events and is a recipient of a Harold Award, a National Tap Dance Award, the Roberto Ariganello Award For Independent Filmmakers, a Dora Award Nomination for Outstanding Male Performance in a Musical, a Pink Triangle Award, XTRA! Magazine Mouthiest Queer Activist Award and was a front-runner in Toronto’s Mayoral Election. Keith Cole has a BFA from York University and a MFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design University (2012).
Dividing his time between Manila, Philippines and Vancouver, Paul de Guzman’s artistic practice is characterized by a concept-driven approach toward language, architecture and other forms of structure-based entities and control mechanisms. Concurrent with the show at WAAP, his work is part of the 2014 Biennale nationale de sculpture contemporaine in Trois-Rivières, Québec and the Fondation Boghossian, Villa Empain in Brussels, Belgium. For more information, visit http://www.pauldeguzman.com
Todd Evanger is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Vancouver, British Columbia. He completed his Master of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Evanger investigates boundaries of the body and hegemonies that are embedded in rural histories, an inquiry which he conducts through video and print media, ancestral archival material and iconography that characterizes the Canadian prairies.
Brendan Fernandes is a Canadian artist of Kenyan and Indian descent. His work investigates the plasticity of personal identity, foregrounding in particular the process of migration. He completed the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art (2007) and earned his MFA (2005) from The University of Western Ontario and his BFA (2002) from York University in Canada. He has exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Art and Design NY, Art in General, the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal, The National Gallery of Canada, The Art Gallery of Hamilton, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Mass MoCA, The Andy Warhol Museum, ZKM, the Art Gallery of York University, Deutsche Guggenheim, The Bergen Kunsthall, Manif d’Art: The Quebec City Biennial, The Third Guangzhou Triennial, the Western New York Biennial through The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Sculpture Center, and the Stedelijk Museum. He was a finalist for the Sobey Art Award in 2010 and was on the longlist for the 2013 prize. He will be included in upcoming exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum and the Brooklyn Museum.
Eve Fowler earned her BA in Journalism from Philadelphia’s Temple University in 1986 before proceeding to an MFA in Photography from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1992. Fowler’s collage and photographic practice is documentary examination of ambiguity, whether in gender or the medium itself. Recent exhibitions have been held at Horton Gallery, New York, White Columns, New York, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco. Fowler’s work is held in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; the series exhibited at WAAP was recently acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Eve Fowler lives and works in Los Angeles.
Jeffrey Hallbauer completed his BFA in 2009 at Emily Carr University. He had a solo show at Gam Gallery in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and has participated in numerous group shows with the Gropps artist collective, the Radical Spirits collective and at WAAP in The Seasons Have Changed But We Have Not. Jeffrey Hallbauer works mainly in painting and sculpture and is interested in making the mundane profound.
Luis Jacob, born in Lima, Peru, lives in Toronto. Working as artist, curator, and writer, his diverse practice addresses social relationships and the subjectivity of aesthetic experience. He has achieved an international reputation, with solo exhibitions including Kunsthalle Lingen; Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, and McCord Museum, Montréal; Art in General, New York, and Fonderie Darling, Montréal; Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach; and Kunstverein Hamburg. He has also participated in group exhibitions including: Taipei Biennial 2012, and Witte de With Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; Generali Foundation, Vienna; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto; and documenta12, Kassel (2007). Luis Jacob is represented by Birch Contemporary, Toronto, and Galerie Max Mayer, Düsseldorf.
Attila Richard Lukacs is a one of the most renowned Canadian painters of his generation. He lives and works in Vancouver, BC and graduated in 1985 from Emily Carr College of Art and Design Vancouver. Recent exhibitions have been held at Belkin Satellite, Vancouver Art Gallery, Winsor Gallery, Johnen Galerie, Berlin, Winsor Gallery, Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Maureen Paley, London, Edmonton Art Gallery and Presentation House Gallery. Notable exhibitions include E-werk, which travelled cross Canada and Europe and Documenta IX 1992 in Kassel, Germany. Lukacs’ work is held in numerous public and private collections such as the Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst (Belgium), Musée D’art Contemporain, The Belkin Gallery, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and the Sala Bachir Collection.
Will Munro (1975-2010) was a Toronto-based artist and cultural activist, born in Sydney, Australia and a graduate of the Ontario College of Art & Design. In 2013, the Art Gallery of York University published Will Munro: History, Glamour, Magic, a comprehensive book on Munro’s art practice and related activities. His work has been a mainstay in group exhibitions that have addressed queer culture and the LGBT community. His connection to the musical world was considerable, and his silkscreened posters for events such as Vazaleen, Peroxide, NoT.O. and Moustache bridged both disciplines. One of Toronto’s most active promoters of queer culture during the past decade, Munro has brought to Toronto such legendary music performers as The Hidden Cameras, Nina Hagen, Kembra Pfahler, Peaches, The Gossip, Jayne County, Joey Arias, Vaginal Creme Davis and The Toilet Boys amongst many others. His estate is represented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art in Toronto where he exhibited the wonderfully named show Inside the Solar Temple of the Cosmic Leather Daddy.
Patryk Stasieczek is a visual artist living in Vancouver, BC. He recently completed his Master of Applied Arts program at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. He holds a BFA in photography and philosophy from Concordia University in Montréal, and has exhibited nationally, participating in exhibitions at Gallery 295, Galerie Les Territoires, Eastern Bloc, and the FOFA Gallery.