PRESS RELEASE ANGELL GALLERY is pleased to present LOCATING OBSCURITY: PHOTOGRAPHY NOW, an exhibition featuring six artists who tease at the boundary between photographic fantasy and reality — Jakub DoleÄµs, Alex Kisilevich, Brendan George Ko, Andrew B. Myers, Kristie Muller and Tim Roda. The exhibition runs in the west gallery from August 22 to September 28, 2013. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, August 22, 6:00 to 9:00 PM.
Art photography in these days of ubiquitous camera use is experiencing a bit of déjÃ vu. In the late 19th century, an explosion of amateur photography was unleashed by George Eastman’s invention of the affordable handheld camera. This prompted the artist photographers known as the Pictorialists to distinguish their work from populist photography by rejecting straight depictions of reality in favour of a more painterly style of composition and printing. Twenty years later, modernist photographers approached the task of making art with the camera by transforming reality into a graphic expression of form, as manifested in the fine black and white print. In the 1980s, the photography of postmodernism turned mass media on itself, using appropriated pop culture imagery and staged fictions to comment on visual culture overload in the late 20th century.
Artist photographers today are now more than ever tasked with the challenge of finding a distinctive voice while using a medium of, at this point, millions. As heirs of postmodernism the artists featured in LOCATING OBSCURITY employ an array of strategies that embrace both art and pop culture. While their approaches are diverse, they are united by a rejection of the camera as a tool of straightforward record keeping. Rather, these artists seek out or create little pockets of mystery, where fact and fiction mix and mingle in suspended animation.
JAKUB DOLEÄ´S, a Czech-born artist now based in London, England, first trained as a painter, and in his latest body of work, The London Set, echoes of modernist geometric abstraction haunt still life photographs created in his studio. Teetering between pure form and colour and a document of their material construction — fabric, mirrors, metal and the studio setting — these pictures point to photography’s indexical relationship with reality, while simultaneously stressing its two dimensionality. The result is an engaging exploration of the tension inherent in photography’s dual nature. DoleÄµs received his MFA in painting in 1998 from the Academy for Art, Architecture and Design in Prague. His work been included in exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery, East International in the UK, and the National Gallery in Prague, among others. DoleÄµs is represented in collections across North America, including the National Gallery of Canada.
ALEX KISILEVICH applies his quirky tragi-comic sensibility to oddball tableau that explore ideas of illusion and transparency, masking and disguise, assimilation and adaptation, as well as the ways we construct connections between ourselves and others. While revelling in the colours and textures of surfaces, Kisilevich also imbues his images with a poignant sensibility. The human presence, whether real or implied, evokes a curious sympathy, occupying as it does this strange intersection between nature, culture and human subjectivity. Kisilevich has BFAs in Cross-Disciplinary Media (York University) and Photographic Arts (OCAD). He was the 2009 national winner of the BMO 1’st Art Invitational, and shows internationally, including a recent solo exhibition as part of the Lianzhou Photography Festival in China.
BRENDAN GEORGE KO responds to reality TV and the “say cheese” phenomenon of posed amateur snapshots by photographing slightly bizarre scenarios in which the human figure occupies the landscape in absurd fashion. Often partially hidden from view, his figures are yet sufficiently present to pique the viewer’s curiosity: was this found or staged? Ko leaves us to ponder the question 'if you can't tell the difference then what does it matter?' Like the other artists in LOCATING OBSCURITY, Ko reminds us that photographs are fact and fiction simultaneously. Ko has an MA in Visual Arts from the University of Toronto, a BFA in Photographic Arts from OCAD and has studied film at Ryerson University. His work has been shown in venues in Los Angeles, Portland (Maine), New York City and Boston, where the installation Barking Wall was a feature in the Flash Forward Festival. Ko’s work is in the collections of Sick Kids Hospital and the BMO Financial Group.
ANDREW B. MYERS fuses unlikely combinations of elements into a distinctive style that is both nostalgic yet very contemporary. A motley crew of subjects drawn from pop culture are positioned against minimalist pastel-hued backgrounds. Often lit so as to cast the raking shadows of late afternoon, the flotsam and jetsam of modern life are transformed into graphic icons with an allure that overshadows their mundane nature. Think Andre Kertesz’s iconic photograph of Mondrian’s glasses meeting postmodernity’s embrace of kitsch. Myers has a BFA in Photography from Ryerson University. Awards include the 2011 Zoom Magazine New Talent Award and the 2010 Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Emerging Photographer Award. Along with exhibitions in Europe and North America Myers has many publishing credits include Time, Vice, Wired, Esquire Russia, GQ, The Walrus, Le Monde, Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, Canadian Geographic and EnRoute.
KRISTIE MULLER uses inexpensive point and shoot cameras to capture enigmatic fragments of her surroundings, as formally beautiful as they are offbeat in subject. A woman’s track pant clad torso is reflected in a curved mirror, with a spiky plant providing an edgy contrast to the snake-like rhythms. A plastic sphere balancing on a water bottle against a brick pavement is symphony of contrasting geometric shapes. Whether staged or found, Muller’s imagery is a strange play upon the poetry of the everyday, where unexpected juxtapositions of people and things conceal as much as they reveal. Muller has exhibited her work in numerous shows around North America, including in Photofeast, presented by the prestigious ISCP International Studio & Curatorial Program in Brooklyn. Her work has been published in Vice, Vogue Italiana, Plaid Magazine, Sweden’s Contributor Magazine and many others.
TIM RODA has achieved international recognition with his unorthodox tableaux, in which he and his family populate enigmatic scenarios that suggest myth, history and current events. Yet these are decidedly homespun fictions. Roda uses simple props and costumes in sparsely furnished spaces, downplaying scenic realism in favour of darkly humorous psychodrama. Roda’s picture of the family as complex entity that mirrors the often inexplicable wider world is the key to his success — his exposé of the sometimes surreal nature of family relations packs an eerily familiar punch. Roda has an MFA in Ceramics from the University of Washington, Seattle. He has had exhibitions in public and private galleries in London (England), Brussels, Berlin, Hamburg, Seattle, Chicago, Las Vegas and New York City, to name just a few. Collections include the Bard College Museum, the Elton John Collection, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the Seattle Art Museum and the Essl Collection in Austria.