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Neighbours Lovers Strangers Friends

Feb. 20, 2014 - April 22, 2014

On February 14th, we celebrated the Drake’s 10th anniversary. Like all milestones, the lead up to it was filled with conversations about past projects, performances and the countless collaborators in the kitchen, on stage, at the front desk and sometimes on the dancefloor. With all this reminiscing it was clear that a great space is one thing, but a great place is made by the people.

So the party rages on with a portrait show where we explore the tangled threads that bind us with a collection of works delving into portraiture’s various guises, ranging from the filmic to the fashionable. All of these works are new, coming straight from the artists' respective studios to our walls.

The show starts at the Drake’s front door with Tyler Vipond’s Shade #14. Vipond builds prismatic sculptures involving photographic images of wayward youth. On a free-standing white wall, a framed portrait of two brooding males hangs. Standing side by side, this image is then fragmented into two precise, origami-like paper constructions that sit on a shiny black plexiglass surface of a wooden plinth. Look closely, and the three-dimensional facets of this sharply-cut sculptural object are the very same image, challenging our two-dimensional expectations of the hanging portrait.

Behind the front desk is an installation by fashion illustrator Danielle Meder. Known for her live runway sketching, Meder delves into Queen Street West’s street style with a series of striking white fashion silhouettes, inverting the history of the black cut-paper silhouette portrait. Inspired by the day and night activities of our Lounge, Meder live sketched the type of characters our patrons usually encounter in a 24-hour cycle — whether it be a bearded hipster in check or a headphone-adorned DJ — with playfully accurate (or inaccurate) chalk-written timestamps.

In the back of the lobby is Seances, a projected moving-image work by Manitoba filmmakers Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson. A tribute to the lost films of silent cinema, Maddin and his cast and crew — including celebrated actors like Charlotte Rampling, Geraldine Chaplin, and Udo Kier — possessed the essence of these forgotten photoplays, making contact in a canonical and not-so-canonical way. Shot at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris as well as the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Montreal’s Phi Centre in 2012 and 2013, these haunting cinematic trances were staged like art installation projects that were also live-streamed online.

Finally, in the cafe and top of the lobby’s stairs, artist and portraitist Wilford Barrington works in graphite and ink in three works that capture every expression of his sitters, whether it be fellow artist Vanessa Maltese or transgender performance artist Nina Arsenault. Echoing the style of Futurism, Barrington’s technique challenges the limitations of the singular portrait, offering multiple glances and gestures at once.

In a sense, this is the power of portraiture. Whether it's a snapshot narrative of the instantaneous, or a deliberately staged portrayal of the sitter, the portrait demands us to gaze at a face, and take notice of the small details, like a crooked smile or a raised eyebrow. With this exhibition, we invite you to people-watch — and who knows, maybe a stranger will become a friend?