In its current exhibitions Cooper Cole Gallery host two Toronto based artists, Scott Treleaven and Georgia Dickie. The main floor and upper level of the gallery is occupied by Scott Treleaven’s paintings, under the title Not Palaces.
Abstract art always give a lot of opportunity for interpretations and various narratives imagined by the viewer. For guidance we turn to the essay printed on the gallery’s website. The one accompanying Treleaven’s show is a literature piece by itself, written by Emmanuel Guy, a Paris based art and literature historian. Guy starts with quoting the Italian poet, Pier Paolo Pasolini, walking in the forest with his male companions in 1941, near Milan, surrounded by fireflies. “There are no fireflies in Paris where I live, where I met Scott a few years ago” Guy continues, but “Some things flicker in the night if you look carefully, and if you are in the right place. The tip of a cigarette glowing in the dark at night in the hedge maze of the Tuileries garden for instance. These hedges shelter men – from the cameras of tourists and the headlights of passing cars – as they cruise through the night. The maze is right at the center of the city, between the two wings of the Louvre – that is, the palace of the power, be it that of the kings in the years before the Revolution, or that of cultural power and hegemony since it was repurposed as a museum, not to mention the glittering luxury mall that now squats beneath it. Here is only the red of the cigarette tip, the blue of the smoke, and above us not palaces, but the whales and the night.” There is were the title of the show, Not Palaces, comes from.
Treleaven’s paintings depict the atmosphere of those places in the dark, filled with the energy of desire. In front of the darkness of the night blue cigarette smoke curl, that sometimes outline a moving figure, while orange cigarette tips, yellow and white moons shine. Treleaven is an internationally acclaimed film maker, so it is not a surprise that the black backgrounds of his paintings represent a role of film. The compositions explore various collage elements in conjunction with matte paint, and an unglazed finish. The paintings are most commonly presented as diptychs; producing the effect of an open book, creating a cohesive installation. Some of the works, located directly to the left of the entrance, hung above eye level as they are representative of Tibetan prayer flags, maybe quietly praying for those night cruisers. The works are pleasing to the eye with their style and throughout a closer analysis the collage elements, both abstract, and representational, become apparent. The way the exhibition is curated gives a sense of connectivity, as if it were installed in a circular room where the end of the installation would remain undetermined.
Georgia Dickie’s installation is located in the small basement space of the gallery where Simon Cooper Cole invites artists to produce site-specific works. It focuses on the use of found objects that are familiar and allow the viewer to make connections. Dickie is deeply concerned with the materiality of the pieces she uses, and her works are pregnant with the many possible lives that hidden in those objects.
The installation, How Many Antennae, is not only the largest one she has made so far, but is also the first one with a defined front and back; producing a formal sculptural piece. Cooper Cole describes it as “the most fantastic bedside table.” The large gestural piece is created from various elements, found wood, metal, plastic, forgotten toys and, indeed, a few antennae. A wooden door (or rainbow) above a door-bookshelf accompanied by a plastic container and cornered by an antennae. The center elements reminds us for an old machinery that becomes more like a fantastic creature by its flag, connected to two other antennae from the side that look like spider legs. At a closer observation we find personal mementos us well. At the lower right hand side Dickie has included a photo of the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden in the UK where she was awarded a residency. This big bug-toy-structure is encapsulating by its playfulness as the viewer keep discovering its many elements.
Scott Treleaven, Not Palaces and Georgia Dickie, How Many Antennae are exciting shows, not to be missed.
Victoria De Chellis
*Exhibition information: Scott Treleaven, Not Palaces & Georgia Dickie, How Many Antennae, January 20 – March 11, 2017, Cooper Cole Gallery, 1134 Dupont Street, Toronto. Gallery hours: Wed – Fri: 1 – 6 p.m., Sat: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.