The organization of three artists into one exhibition is an obvious exercise of arrangement: a coming-together of a series of works that typically exist independently of one another. Anchored by Clay’s new series of paintings, the connections that emerge with Thorne and Martindale’s work are the result of their shared physical space at Katzman Contemporary throughout the duration of the exhibition and the inherent links within the artists’ respective practices. Such connections take form in language, the treatment of space, an (at times) common concern with ecological politics, the use of particular materials, and references to similar histories, to name a few. As such, the exhibition is a site to begin the exploration of the connections and circumstances that emerge within this one particular arrangement.
Allyson Clay’s recent work, Groundsplatpink, takes up issues of descriptive language in relation to abstract painting and traditions of art writing. In these new paintings, she appropriates, re-writes or invents condensed descriptions of various unnamed or invented abstract paintings. Clay frames these words within referential abstract shapes that form intentionally awkward compositions. Her phrases become visual representations of the ways in which language is used and molded into configurations that are at once uncomfortable, unlikely and poetic. Like the texts that she has employed in past works, the words used in these new paintings are intended to both interrupt and co-produce the paintings’ forms and surfaces. Thus, her painterly gesture collapses both the history of the medium and its corresponding discursive tradition into a single, painted, entity.
Kika Thorne’s tensile installations react to their specific environments; as such, they are better described site-adaptive rather than the art-vernacular site-specific. Thorne’s materials respond to the physical demands of their spaces and serve as barometers of the spatial and energetic specificities within which they exist. Just as Clay’s chosen phrases are at the mercy of the confines of her painted surfaces, Thorne’s installation is constrained by and simultaneously responds to the physical limits of the gallery space.
Sean Martindale’s public installations seek to disrupt the continuous fabric of urban spaces. Such disruptions however employ materials already present in the environment as the reconfigured stuff of intervention. Cardboard, plastic vessels, plants and other items that populate the urban landscapes where Martindale stages his interventions, are rearranged to convey his ecologically and socially motivated comments. The documentation of his interventions, in the form of print and video works, record specific instances of his ephemeral material reorganization, which often go on to deteriorate or be destroyed by other means.
Allyson Clay: Allyson Clay received her BFA in Painting from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, and an MFA in Painting from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. She lives in Vancouver and is a faculty member of the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. Clay has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally and her work belongs to many Canadian and international public and private collections. Public collections include the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Banff Centre, and the Art Gallery of Windsor. She has been the beneficiary of many awards including Senior Artist Grants from the Canada Council, the B.C. Arts Council, the Mexico/Canada/USA Artist Exchange Residency, and the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency Program.
Kika Thorne received her MFA from the University of Victoria, BC and has exhibited extensively including projects at Berlinale Forum Expanded, Berlin; Murray Guy, New York; The Apartment, Access, Contemporary Art Gallery and Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; Pleasure Dome and the Power Plant, Toronto; E-Flux Video Rental. Jesse Birch won the 2013 OAAG Art Writing Award for Common Gravity: Kika Thorne's Tension Sculptures from The WILDcraft, curated by Srimoyee Mitra at the Art Gallery of Windsor. Thorne is currently working towards a PhD at York University, Toronto.
Sean Martindale is an emerging and internationally recognized interdisciplinary artist and designer currently based in Toronto, Canada. His interventions activate public and semi-public spaces to encourage engagement, often focused on ecological and social issues. His playful works question and suggest alternate possibilities for existing spaces, infrastructures and materials found in the urban environment. In 2012, the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts (TFVA) awarded Martindale their prestigious Artist Prize. 2012 marked the opening of NOW, Martindale’s major two-person exhibition with Pascal Paquette at the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of the AGO’s Toronto Now contemporary project series. He holds an MFA from the Interdisciplinary Master’s of Art, Media and Design program at OCAD University in Toronto, and a Bachelor of Design from Emily Carr University in Vancouver.