Gareth Bate, Liz Pead, Howard Podeswa & Jim Reid
RESPONSIVE SPACE II
April 18 – May 12, 2013
Responsive Space II is the second instalment of a project, wherein artists are brought together to share their unique, contemporary experiences of the land and their expressions of our ever-evolving relationship with nature. In a digitally immersed society, one’s relationship to the nature and history becomes distorted by the overwhelming dissemination of information and the removal from direct experience.
This exhibition features the artwork of Gareth Bate, Liz Pead, Howard Podeswa and Jim Reid. Each of these artists synthesizes landscape through various material means. Although their practices, and the resulting artworks, are very distinctive, there are striking parallels in the motivations and interests connecting this diverse group.
Liz Pead and Howard Podeswa have both created bodies of work in reaction and reference to art historical influences. Pead, who utilizes discarded hockey equipment to fashion detailed landscapes, was initially inspired to do so through her examination of the Group of Seven. By using recycled hockey equipment to construct scenes, Pead employs the landscape to speak to greater issues of play, materiality, consumption and symbols connected to our national identity. Her works are at once playful and contemplative.
Similarly, the paintings of Howard Peodeswa emerged from an in-depth study and interpretation of the paintings of famed Spanish artist Francisco Goya. Podewsa distorts and reworks Goya’s master works by playing with the cropping and framing of specific details in the production of new, reimagined artworks. The main scene of his inspiration is Goya’s ‘The Meadow of San Isidro on his Feast Day’, which depicts a festival in progress. Goya’s painting is layered in denotations of the social traditions and the culture of his time. Podeswa’s paintings then become an abstraction of these scenes. His paintings are both homage and deconstruction of Goya’s painting as he rebuilds these works with his own brush, adding a new contemporary context through the addition and omission of information from the original scene.
Both Pead and Podeswa are tapping into the art historical tradition of the landscape sublime, but doing so in a way that references our contemporary standpoint through the use of technology, modern materials and a knowing look to the past. By looking at the traditions of landscape throughout art history, these artists gain clues to our current condition and relationship to nature.
By contrast, Gareth Bate and Jim Reid reflect the landscape back to the viewer, using it to mirror our human interaction and place within nature. Each of their bodies of work comes from a place of connection and deliberation. Both artists are creating work from sites of great personal importance with results that are simultaneously looming and fantastic.
Gareth Bate’s ‘Lament’ paintings are, to the artist, “an existential contemplation on our place within nature and our effect on the world”. The Lament series stemmed from prolonged studies of sites important to the artist; Grenadier Pond in Toronto’s High Park, and Kings County in Prince Edward Island. Though scenes of joy and familiarity, back in the studio, these paintings are transformed into dark predictions of the potential, (or probable), effects of man on nature. The murky, contrasted tones of Bate’s acrylic washes reinforce his dark vision of the scenes he creates.
Jim Reid’s ‘Terraforms’ are created by casting the ground of the Canadian Shield and the Niagara Escarpment. These studies are tributes to Reid’s life-long home, as well as the site of significant environmental lobbying for preservation in the face of massive developments and invasion of these extraordinary natural reserves. After casting the ground, Reid works into the surfaces with paint, mixed media and found natural elements. Curator Ihor Holubizky, has said of Reid’s ‘Terraforms’: “rather than being satisfied with a transcription of the ground he [Reid] incorporates natural and man-made materials in a hybrid amalgam where toxic material and waste combine to create new typography. The resulting work suggests growth (the implicit cycle of nature) and decay (also expressed in the unstable nature of the material itself). Reid’s landscape is a means of mapping a surface in a poetic fashion.”
Lonsdale Gallery is pleased to further the dialogue amongst these artists. Although diverse in their motivations and their media, Bate, Pead, Podeswa and Reid, inclusively, are tapping into a collective consciousness regarding the natural landscape and its enduring influence on our culture.