Looking at loop’s website before visiting their latest show, I imagined Gareth Bate’s garden-scapes as large canvases with strong brushstrokes and Sung Ja Kim’s compositions as small and delicate — but I was wrong about both.
The show is well curated by mixing the works of the two artists. Bate’s strong colours and Kim’s shades of white compliment each other well. All the In the Garden series canvases are relatively small. As Bate says, they are almost “accidental” compositions, their creation started as he cleaned his brushes on those canvases. “The universe is like a garden”, he wrote. Looking at the abstract compositions you can, indeed, see the chaos as well as the order the gardener/painter created out of it. You can easily imagine growing plants and blooming flowers in the abstract shapes as they swirl with life and energy. Bate walked the streets of Toronto and made hundreds of photographs of plants, seeing a “beautiful mess” that became somewhat orderly in his paintings, while still encapsulating their original, unruly nature. He organized their rich colors into complimentary colours of yellow-red-purple or shades of blues, and created a series of compositions that are still raw at their roots, but also powerful and exiting.
In strong contrast to Bate’s vivid colours, Sung Ja Kim’s show, Connection is built on the colour white. White supposedly absorbs the full range of other colours and creates richness by itself that can’t be easily captured in any other way. As the artist wrote of these works, “Straight lines and curved lines connect us to our destinations. Connecting with these personal destinations occurs through a journey involving new ways to live our lives.” The layers in Piling Up remind me at first of bed sheets or table linens stored in a cupboard, witnesses of old holidays and lovely times from the past that are also heavy with the possibility of future events. They capture time. Shaping Reality Through Time shows our movements toward our chosen destination – movement that becomes time and time that becomes movement as we move from past through present into the future. Reality becomes almost abstract in Trading Together, when the layers are no longer recognizable. What amazes me in these works is the shadow of white — white shadows to be precise — that can swallow time and make it stand still.
Both Bate’s and Kim’s exhibitions deal with time; the captured moments of the universe in Bate’s case and the layers of time and destiny in Kim’s work.
Images are courtesy of loop Gallery
*Exhibition information: Gareth Bate, In the Garden & Sung Ja Kim, Connection, November 4 – 26, 2017, loop gallery, 1273 Dundas Street West, Toronto, (three doors west of Dovercourt). Gallery hours: Wed – Sat 12 – 5, Sun 1 – 4 p.m.