Caroline Larsen is a Canadian born artist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her collaboration with General Hardware Contemporary is definitely worth a visit if you are wandering on Queen West and have some time to spare. The show, curated by Caroline Larsen, involves works by three other artists as well: Leah James, Maria Calandra and Brian Willmont. The artists are friends, belonging to the same art circle in Brooklyn.
Installation view with Caroline Larsen, Cross Stitch Mountain (left) and Ideas from the North (right), 2017, oil on canvas, 34″ x 34″
Larsen’s works occupy the majority of the gallery’s space. Her depictions of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and scenes of southern California are inspired by familiar landscapes and places where she has spent some time, either as a resident or as a visitor. She takes the most significant elements from the landscapes and then simplify them into abstract ornaments dominated by shape and color. The pieces look like textiles but at closer examination the illusion of woven fabric disappears and an intricately painted pattern emerges. She loads the paint into piping bags and squeezes it onto the canvas; instead of using a paint brush, the paint comes directly from the pipe and leaves thick, three-dimensional marks on the surface. For me, the process of squeezing paint onto the canvas resembles a baker putting icing on cupcakes. It is hard to figure out something new in abstract painting since so much has been experimented with already, still, Larsen found a way to be unique with her special method of paint application.
Caroline Larsen, Cross Stitch Mountain, 2017, oil on canvas, 34″ x 34″
Caroline Larsen, Magic Mountain, 2017,oil on canvas on panel, 39″ x 50″, detail
Maria Calandra is the artist and writer of the blog Pencil in the Studio. As part of the project Calandra visits the studios of other artists for an entire day and makes drawings of their places and art works while there. Then she posts her work accompanied by a writing of her experience. In her other drawings, Calandra takes inspiration from automatism, drawing whatever comes to her mind, using a mix of graphite and liquid graphite on panel.
Maria Calandra, Crystal River, 2017, Graphite and liquid Graphite on Claybord Panel, 12″ x 12″
Brian Willmont uses airbrush to create his floral themed piece. The painting looks very digital due to his method of color application while it also resembles the flatness of stencil works.
Brian Willmont, Untitled, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 24″
Leah James created a group of ceramic pieces for the show, that imitate marble. The pit firing process is where the chemicals oxidize and leave marks on the clay that resemble the visual impact of a painting.
Leah James, Mineral Vocabulary: Firing Performance V, 2017, pit fired stoneware, 5.75″ x 8.75″
This is an unique exhibition. If you are looking for something different in the abstract painting genre, General Hardware Contemporary is your best choice!
Images are courtesy of General Hardware Contemporary
*Exhibition information: Caroline Larsen: Mountain Paintings, March 4 – April 14, 2018, General Hardware Contemporary, 1520 Queen Street West, Toronto. Gallery hours: Wed – Sat, 12 – 6 pm.