Angell Gallery

20th anniversary

Mitchell Chan

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THE INGENIOUS GENTLEMAN DON QUIXOTE OF LA MANCHA

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Installation View, 2011

ANGELL GALLERY is pleased to present "THE INGENIOUS GENTLEMAN DON QUIXOTE OF LA MANCHA," a special project by Toronto-based artist Mitchell F. Chan. The exhibition will be on display in the East Gallery from June 7th to July 7th, 2012. An opening reception will be held on Thursday June 7th from 6:00-9:00pm. Mitchell F. Chan’s multimedia exhibition THE INGENIOUS GENTLEMAN DON QUIXOTE OF LA MANCHA is a set of conceptually rigorous and visually astonishing works which expand on ideas of translation, truth, and futility as presented in Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th century work of the same title. The dominant piece in the exhibit is a sculpture which writes out, letter by letter, the entirety of Cervantes’ novel using clouds of water vapour. Groups of clouds emerge from the sculpture, arranging themselves as letters, then dissipate into the air as quickly as they came, rendering the text scarcely legible. Cervantes’ novel submits the notion that neither literal truth nor didacticism may be drawn from poetic literature. Chan’s sculptural gesture, both elegant and absurd, makes this argument tangible. However, by constructing a pithy and compelling argument for the ineffectualness of communication, he undermines his own thesis. Conceptually, he has constructed a visual Liar’s Paradox: this statement cannot be heard. As a counterpoint to that artwork, Chan has also constructed a sculpture to capture, document, and re-translate the water vapour text. Chan’s Portrait of the Artist as Cervantes pulls the ambient water vapour, which had previously been constituted as text, from the air and assumes that quantity of collected moisture has now been imbued with a unique morsel of content from the original book. The collected water then runs through the mechanical sculpture and is dripped methodically onto the paper sheets. The paper sheets deform slightly after absorbing the water, and are then bound into unique hardcover editions, which each printing reconstituting a different, brief section of the Don Quixote text. The second sculptural completes the act of translation, literally pulling content out of the air to create a presentation of Don Quixote which is more tangible but even less legible than the previous version written in clouds. Furthermore, the “content” of the book has been compromised and contaminated by external factors: the water vapour which was previously carefully formed into letters has since mixed with the humidity in the gallery, and even the breath of the spectators. The two artworks taken in concert offer an absurdist’s mechanism for distilling content, truth, and beauty. Gorgeous in its own futility, the installation makes a compelling case for the merit of lost causes. Mitchell F. Chan is a visual artist based in Toronto. He received his BA, Architectural Studies (2005) from the Carleton University School of Architecture, and his MFA, Art and Technology Studies (2011) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2009 he was the recipient of the Trustee Scholarship in the Art & Technology department of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has exhibited his work across Canada (Toronto, ON; Edmonton, AB; Gatineau, QC; Ottawa, ON) and in the U.S.A. (Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Washington, D.C.).

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THE INGENIOUS GENTLEMAN DON QUIXOTE OF LA MANCHA, 2012
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Technical Diagram, 2011
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Installation View (Detail), 2011
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