To Remember Beautifully
Installation view. Photo: Rachel Williams
Walls filled with colourful memories. Vibrant flashes of moments. A collage of life fragments that every human wishes to hold onto – whether trivial, heartbreaking, mundane, or extraordinary – since those are what make us who we are. Memories are what we are left behind with, and their moments are what we can replay. Tim Deverell’s, Fragments of Memory – For Ann, exhibited at the Yumart Gallery, is a crucial display of what it means to actively remember someone. Deverell’s art is telling us how one tackles the inescapable task of remembering someone beautiful and remembering her beautifully.
Scraps of info, 2018, oil/collage on canvas, 30 x 30 in. Courtesy of Yumart
Yumart Gallery’s owner, Yvonne Whelan, speaks highly about her most senior artist. She says, eyes lit-up, that she has been exhibiting him since she started her gallery seven years ago. Deverell has displayed his work in galleries all over the US and Canada and she is proud to be the most recent gallery to exhibit his works. She says that in 1958 he had his first solo exhibition in New York City, since that is what Canadian artists did in the 50s and 60s, they would go to New York to show what they could do. Then she goes on, “I’ve never seen work like this before, I’ve seen people do intricate collage and so forth, but not to this extent.”
Strangest Ironies, 2019, oil/collage/canvas, 20 x 20 in. Courtesy of Yumart
Whelan also mentions that Deverell has a huge group of admirers; how those who come to purchase a piece, purchase multiple. The continuity of the artist’s work is unquestionable, each piece is connected, they work together in colour scheme and materiality. Whelan, herself, has 15 of his pieces, “they are addictive,” she admits through laughter.
Desire Notes, 2017, acrylic/collage on canvas, 56 x 20 in (left) and
Looking For, 2018, collage on paper, 25 x 13 in (right). Courtesy of Yumart
Fragments of Memory – For Ann is a collection of pieces dedicated to Deverell’s wife, Ann Ireland, a successful author, who sadly passed away. This collection only took a year and a half to complete. His main medium is oil, acrylic, and of course the array of materials he has so carefully cut out and shaped from magazines to postage stamps and personal sketches. In Routines, the artist cleverly uses these cut-outs and by melding them with his own drawings, creates a new narrative. What may have been meaningless pieces of pop-culture, becomes an important story in the artist’s hands.
Routines, 2018, collage on paper, 15 x 12 in. Courtesy of Yumart
There is something to be said about the impact of his works to the physical body. Deverell’s pieces are meant to be leaned into, there is a body language that goes hand-in-hand with his creations. The viewer must almost prostrate towards the piece, diving head-first into the pool of his memories. Deverell’s art can also be seen as objects of discovery, like a personal game of “I Spy.” Whelan states, “A friend of mine bought one of his longer, more horizontal pieces and placed it above a table with a magnifying glass. Every day he will grab the magnifying glass, look at the collage and find something new.” There is a magnifying glass placed at the entrance of the gallery too, because from afar, the images blend into an array of colours, but up close they are filled with hundreds of little masterpieces.
Looking For, 2018, collage on paper, 25 x 13 in, detail, Photo: Rachel Williams
It is difficult to pinpoint whether or not the artist’s work is abstract or figurative. His pieces do not fit into a certain genre, they create a genre of their own. There is a living energy that almost vibrates off of his works. “This is because the artist builds on his own work, he doesn’t devote his time to just one piece, he jumps around, adding to different pieces in his collection” – explains Whelan.
Observing, 2019, mixed media on canvas, 24 x 52 in. Courtesy of Yumart
Fragments of Memory – For Ann is exquisite and softly melancholy, it is active remembering. Tim Deverell has created a spectrum of wildly exceptional images that stand as an immortalizing remembrance to his wife, Ann, who will be remembered beautifully.
*Exhibition information: September 7 – 28, 2019, Yumart, 401 Richmond Street West Suite B20, Toronto. Gallery Hours: Wed – Sat, 12 – 6 pm.