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Post-Photoshop

Feb. 25, 2015 - April 26, 2015

The weaving forms and energies of a colour field painting re-imagined in a 3D landscape; the painterly gestures of abstract geometric shapes seemingly composed on a computer screen. Post-Photoshop, the Drake’s group winter exhibition, explores how studio software tools and aesthetics have changed our relationship with the two-dimensional art object.

For our front entrance vestibule, Mattie Hillock’s My Garden Harmony — a monumental digital painting printed on silk chiffon — seemingly floats in mid-air. The New York-based digital media/net/new-media artist veers between a painter’s brush and the multiple tools, programmes and iPhone applications more associated with the work of website designers and software developers. Hillock unfurls a tapestry scene — layers of flashy glitched-out forms intermingling with technicolour flora like roses and palms — from a 3D landscape rendered in Cinema 4D, a 3D modelling application.

Like Hillock, the Portland, OR-based artist Jeremy Rotsztain’s practice derives from software programming and painting. Three generative animations from his recent Electric Fields series project on our back lobby wall; Rotsztain re-imagines the art historical genre’s painterly gestures in an 3D landscape, with splashes of saturated CMYK shades meditatively stretch across an infinite space.

Post-Photoshop is equally pre-occupied in how artists working in contemporary painting and installation interpret postinternet aesthetics. In the cafe, four works from Andrew Rucklidge’s ^You and I are Shifters^ series hang. Local writer Terence Dick, in an essay commissioned for Rucklidge’s 2014 YYZ solo show, notes how the Toronto-based abstract painter “churns out work chock full of the grammar of painting turned in on itself in generative combinations” and part of a “Post-Photoshop” movement in painting. While “1^hunter^2” and “2^hunter^1” are flat, architectural fractals shimmering cool and diamond-like in oil and distemper on panel, “1^Shear^2^3” and “2^Shear^3^1” present sublime marbling mountain ranges. Meanwhile, at the top of the lobby stairs, Karine Fréchette’s Brèche displays flatscreen-sharp gradient gestures via the geometric abstract.

In the lobby, local artist Ella Dawn McGeough sets the exhibition in 20th century futurism with her site-specific installation, In the dust of this world. On our front lobby’s chalkboard wall, a set of forty hand tools — some of which have re-emerged as buttons for studio software commands, demonstrating the McLuhanian concept of technologies extending the bodily reach — have been transformed into sculptures by being dipped in milky casting wax affixed to a masonite board treated with green chalkboard paint. Nearby in the the back lobby’s glass vitrine, sit two small stacks of forty marble tiles; one has at the top an engraved piece of mirror. A website address, www.inthedustofthisworld.com, is etched in clean futura type.

Fascinated with the forty laws of Frank Ogden, an unconventionally brilliant Canadian futurist who developed predictions regarding communication technologies, McGeough explores the material/immaterial interchange between software and the physical. During the exhibition’s run, the marble tiles in the glass vitrine will steadily disappear, with McGeough engraving each tile with an Ogden law. (The sixth law, for instance, reads: “when we enter a new environment the quantity of new information can evoke not only change but transformation.”) The tile will reappear on the website in a progression that will leave behind an increasingly large pile of green volcanic clay in the vitrine, tellingly the same shade as the chalkboard. “Digital to physical, useful to useless, text to dust, marble to clay,” describes McGeough. “These tools are an attempt to give form and utility to the Laws’ formlessness — parodying how their meaning mutates when rendered physically.”

Visual culture theorist Nicolas Mirzoeff once observed that the postmodern was not the successor to modernism, but the crisis caused by modern culture’s failure to visualize. The “post” in Post-Photoshop suggest artists continue to find ways to visualize the disruption and explore new territory between traditional media like painting through the digital lens.

Special thanks to the artists, YYZ and Terence Dick.

— Rea McNamara
Assistant Art Curator, Drake Hotel Properties