Monthly Archives: November 2011

Linda Martinello

It’s been a proud month in the galleries on Queen West for my alma mater, with two graduates from theSheridanCollege/UniversityofToronto Artand Art History program showing within steps of each other. Clint Roenisch was packed last Friday with onlookers cooing over Dorian FitzGerald’s glossy images of luxury.  A general giddiness surrounded those lucky enough to get a look through FitzGerald’s imported stereoscopic spectacles to view two smaller identical paintings at the back of the show pop into 3D.

Across the courtyard, the walls of Edward Day Gallery are filled with the work of young artist Linda Martinello, a current master’s student at University of Waterloo. We met over coffee to discuss travel, the exploration of self, the sublime, and of course, art. Probed by her mentor, Denise Thomasos, to fully explore the timeline of her artistic inspirations and resulting practice, Martinello was well prepped to reveal to me the biographical and esoteric roots of her work.

Simplistically, her work is an effort to recapture the sublime sensibility and temporary ability to discard one’s sense of self that can be experienced during travel. This kind of rhetoric comes after years of the artist questioning the validity of landscape art as contemporary practice. The doubts are unsurprising given the highly conceptual framework of her art education, but unfortunate considering how landscapes were the animus for Martinello’s choice to attend art school in the first place.

Sipping on her black coffee and becoming increasingly more inspirited, Martinello took me back to her first trip abroad to a small village inItalyfor her grandmother’s funeral. The surreal experiences of meeting family with whom she could hardly communicate, visiting a foreign cemetery filled with ancestors’ graves, and seeing her lifetime in framed photos in an unknown grandmother’s home introduced the artist to the addictive experience of exploring one’s identity while immersed in the unfamiliar.

Though this excursion fueled the artwork of her OAC year of high-school, leading to a scholarship in visual art, Martinello virtually abandoned the panorama as her muse until her next trip toItaly3 years later. A trip to her mother’s homeland,Mexico, the following year, and an entire year spent inItalythe subsequent year led Martinello back to landscape exploration. It wasn’t until her brother graduated from architecture school however, that the artist happened upon her current method of working.

Inheriting from him a large roll of mylar, Martinello was finally able to produce work with the same abandon that she was feeling during her journeys abroad. Let go from the all-to-common fear of destroying the perfection of a primed canvas, she began to experiment on seemingly disposable reams of the acquired roll. Large scale mylar works remain as Martinello’s signature style. After laying down a quick ground with oil paint using colours noted in extensive non-visual reference made during travel- mostly words jotted within streams of consciousness- Martinello retells her feelings of that place, and within that moment in time, using graphite on the wet paint.

Her increasingly abstract sketches cause one to imagine the graphite twirling through her fingers as she draws. The surface of the paint is scratched away to varying thicknesses by lines alternately undulating and slicing through her almost random colour palette. Though she approaches the initial space with a vision of the geographic surroundings within her imagination, she makes no attempt to match the black graphite lines with the accompanying background. The artist encourages the viewer’s mind to wander along with her own, as her lines stray onto the uncharted blank spaces of the page.

Increasingly, her motivations; inspirations and research are embedded in musings on perception and consciousness. Her process continues to spiral further into a sort of meditative automaticity and absorption into memory. It’s debatable whether these works can even be called landscapes in the traditional sense, when so much of their creation relies on the artist’s visceral experiences. Ironic really.

Linda Martinello’s paintings are on exhibition at Edward Day Gallery until Saturday, November 26, 2011.

With just five weeks until motherhood, and the wintery silence of the art world nearing, I am expecting this to be my last post of the year. Thanks so much to everyone for reading and I look forward to sharing my conversations again in the spring.

Feel free to become a follower to avoid the anxiety of having to check in anticipating my next  post…;) And most of all, happy holidays!

Dorian FitzGerald at Clint Roenisch

Dorian FitzGerald will be hosting his second solo show, Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense, at Toronto’s Clint Roenisch Gallery tonight, Friday November 18, 2011.  Continuing with his familiar theme of excess, the monumental high-gloss acrylic paintings featured in the exhibition are completed in FitzGerald’s trademark technique using clear caulking to separate sections of colour within the piece. While in the past the artist has explored relics of  lost empires and collapsed pop-icons, this show will focus on the horded hauteur within the world’s more royally endowed lineages.

The artist will be in attendance for the opening tonight at Clint Roenisch Gallery, 944 Queen Street West.

Erin Vincent, Fight or Flight

I met up with Erin Vincent this Saturday at 99 Gallery. Though I was early, she was there when I arrived. I walked by her to catch a glimpse of the show before we began our talk. I later admitted to her that this was the first time I’ve asked an artist to meet with me before previewing their work. I guess the belaboured pace of my 34th week of pregnancy is causing me to cut a few corners in my normal process. I had been charmed by the photo of Vincent’s work advertising her exhibition on Akimbo, and I was not disappointed by the show.

The exhibition is the culmination of 6 months of work, all incited by a traumatic break-up with a photographer/archivist. The resulting concepts orbit around nostalgic depictions of preservation and destruction, which Vincent insists are primarily coincidental collections from her sub-conscious.  Indeed, she explains all of the work through wandering autobiographical anecdotes. By the end of our conversation, I was unsure of which I found more intriguing- the work or the artist herself.

Entering the gallery, along the right wall is “Bombs,” the first of several wall installations. 77 tiny missiles, cast in cement from 11 different molds and each hand-finished with a blackened patina, discharge from the wall on pieces of thin wire. At the base of each wire is a perfectly cut circular platform cut from old drawing boards. Each sample shows evidence of childlike innocence- names and doodles carved into the surface.  The pairing of  the imagery of extreme violence paired with the innocence of childhood is not only an exposure of the multiple layers underneath our superficial perception, but also a consequence of Vincent’s experience as a high-school teacher at Toronto’s notoriously violent Sir Stanford Fleming Academy, where the presence of guns is the norm amidst the student population.

At the back of the gallery is an installation of tiny folded paper planes made from maps ofOntarioand nautical charts ofLakeOntariodated from the year of her mother’s birth. The planes, swooping like a vast twisted ribbon across the wall are inspired by the synchronized flights of starlings which Vincent can remember watching as a child. Recalling folding paper airplanes with her grandmother, the piece reflects the frivolity of discard and our lack of heirlooms in contemporary society. While the dates on the maps reflect the year of her mother’s birth, Vincent admits that she would never destroy pieces of her own family history for the sake of her art. She also affirms that the process of dissecting historical documents was somewhat of a release after her separation from the archivist.

The airplanes arise again within a series of sculptural memoirs preserved under large turn-of-the-century bell jars. It’s unsurprising that these little crafts are such a recurrent motif once the artist reveals that she has lived not only inCanada, but also inEngland,KoreaandFrance. Within these pieces, Vincent has constructed her wee jets from maps of places she has lived, and combined them with miniature bronze replicas of personal effects- her couch, her kitchen table. Usually preferring to work quickly, taking items from a vast personal collection of flea market finds, the bronze was the element that forced Vincent into the 6 month conceptual commitment that became this show. Ironic considering the catalyst was a break-up.

Evidence of this more whimsical style of production is seen in her series of “Smalls,” which feature an array of bizarre little sculptures made from some of her favourite recurring motifs- planes, clouds, bits of ivory (her family is from the Yukon, where apparently there is still an abundant ivory barter trade), tables.

The show, Fight or Flight, continues until this Saturday, November 19th. More of this artist’s work, a series of paintings based on her preoccupation with collecting and preserving, can be seen at this year’s One of a Kind Show. Erin Vincent is an artist and a sculpture teacher at The Art Centre, Central Technical School inToronto.