Category Archives: art

Gordon Parks | PORTRAITS OF AN AMERICAN ICON

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This past Saturday saw the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival draw to a close. My wife, sister-in-law and I took advantage of the great weather and spent the day visiting the exhibits along Queen West.

From documentary street scenes in Vancouver to interesting, colourful houses in Newfoundland to portraits of flood victims around the world, Herero people from Namibia in ceremonial garb to images of a pre Olympic Sochi, this year’s CONTACT Festival was fantastic. One of my personal highlights was the last exhibit we saw. Gordon Parks, Portraits is a fantastic exhibit of an American icon on display at the BAND gallery on Lansdowne and Queen.

The mandate for BAND or Black Artists’ Network in Dialogue, is to support and showcase the work and contributions of Black Artists in Canada and abroad. The Gordon Parks exhibit which showcases 43 works by the legendary photographer is on loan from the Gordon Parks Foundation. 

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The power of Gordon Parks imagery is set against a backdrop of a changing world. The exhibit seems chronological as we move from images of poverty in the 40s, 50s and 60s to the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King Jr. Parks also documents the rise of Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers. The exhibit ends in a little room where an informative documentary, Half Past Autumn: The Life and Work of Gordon Parks, is screened.

Long before the Civil Rights movement. Parks worked at both Vogue and Life Magazines. He documented some of the most important moments in American history made history himself, as a photographer, author, musician and the director of groundbreaking films like Leadbelly, Shaft and Solomon Northup’s Odyssey, a story that would later be retold in the Oscar winning Twelve Years a Slave. His camera was a weapon against injustice and he was a creative force who demanded equality through his undeniable talent and unbreakable spirit.

Do yourself a favor and check out this fantastic exhibit. It runs till August 3rd. The Gallery is at Black Artists’ Networks in Dialogue (BAND), 1 Lansdowne Ave 2nd Fl M5K 2V7

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Just my type of city | Celbrating Typography in Cape Town

I stumbled upon a great website that showcases two of my favorite things; amazing typography and my hometown of Cape Town. CTTYPE created by Cape Town creative, Rowan Eva encourages people to upload their favorite pics of type in the city. The submissions range from beautifully hand drawn type to fantastic signage on art deco buildings and signage for businesses.

Check out CTTYPE and if you’re ever in Cape Town, make sure you take some pics of the city’s typography.

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The haunting urban landscapes of Paul Rouphail

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Pittsburgh-based artist, Paul Rouphail, paints incredibly beautiful urban landscapes. The first thing I noticed when first looking at his work however, is the complete emptiness of these landscapes. Without people or activity, these pretty normal landscapes take on a completely different tone.

“The city’s rolling hills and expansive vistas allow for light to pierce the architectural fabric in such a way that the city, as a landscape, is in a constant state of flux; light is always shifting, and the possibilities for discovery are ever more present.”

To view more of his amazing work visit paulrouphail.com

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Falling back to earth with Cai Guo-Qiang

The solo exhibition, entitled “Falling Back to Earth’, at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, Australia, by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang is truly remarkable.

The name of the exhibition, which features a series of large-scale installations was derived from the poem, ‘Ah, homeward bound I go!’, by the fourth century poet, Tao Yuanming.

‘The text captures the concept behind the exhibition, and expresses the idea of going home, returning to the harmonious relationship between man and nature, and re-embracing the tranquillity in the landscape,’ says Cai.

Heritage, the first of the installations features 99 scale models of animals from different regions in the world, drinking from a clear blue lake.

Eucalyptus, is a 31-metre tree which the artist has suspended along GOMA’s central Long Gallery. The tree came from a plantation earmarked for clearing for urban community development.

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Head On, probably my favorite piece in the exhibit features 99 life size sculptures of wolves in motion. It’s almost like a time lapse image of a pack of wolves leaping into the air in attack mode, and being stopped by a glass barrier. It’s absolutely mind-blowing.

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To see more of Cai Guo-Qiang’s incredible work, and it truly is incredible, visit caiguoqiang.com or visit his blog caiguoqiang.wordpress.com

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Enter the strange and Surreal Sci-Fi world of Simon Stålenhag

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Simon Stålenhag’s paintings draw you into a bizarre alternate reality, where robots and dinosaurs make the Swedish countryside their home. These hyper real acrylic scenes are mesmerizing and disturbing and just plain fantastic.

Simon is based in the countryside of Stockholm which explains his fascinating landscapes. His work has been featured in many international publications and book covers and he was responsible for the amazing background animation scenes in the Oscar award winning documentary, Searching for Sugarman.

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Stålenhag is also one half of the game developer duo Pixeltruss. Simon and partner, Tommy Salomonsson recently launched Ripple Dot Zero, an amazing 90s inspired 16-bit game which is available to play for free at http://www.rippledotzero.com

Be sure to check out Simon’s work at http://www.simonstalenhag.se/ and you’ve gotta play the super fun Ripple Dot Zero.

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Still waters run deep | The mysterious genius of Vivian Maier

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She was a prolific street photographer whose incredibly arresting work has garnered critical acclaim and had it not been for a fateful day in 2007, Vivian Maier’s work would remain forever undiscovered.

When John Maloof, a historical hobbyist from Chicago bought a box filled with thousands of negatives at an auction, he could never have imagined the treasure trove he had just uncovered. As he started developing those negatives, Maloof discovered beautifully evocative pictures that painted the story of life in the 50s and 60s urban landscapes. Vivian Maier captured intimate moments with the people of Chicago and New York, where she lived and worked as a nanny. Despite her obvious talent, Maier inexplicably chose to keep her passion secret.

An amazing documentary film, Finding Vivian Maier, pieces together the remarkable story of this mysterious artist, who died at the age of 83, before Maloof could find her.

That rare case of a genuine undiscovered artist, she left behind a huge trove of pictures that rank her with the great American mid-century street photographers. The best pictures bring to life a fantastic swath of history that now needs to be rewritten to include her.” – Michael Mimmelman, New York Times

Be sure to visit the website, vivianmaier.com to discover more about Vivian Maier and view her amazing gallery of pictures. And definitely look out for the film. Shout outs to Ted Mirsky who posted about the film on Facebook and sent me down the rabbit hole. 

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Art meets Music | Toro Y Moi “Rose Quartz”

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Check out this fantastic music video for Toro Y Moi’s, Rose Quartz off his Anything In Return album.

The video for this soulful synth tune, which features impressionist style animated painting, was directed (and painted) by Lauren Gregory.

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Art in the Streets | The work of ETAM CRU

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Individually, Polish street artists Bezt and Sainer produce quirky and visually arresting pieces of art, but their collaborative work as the street crew, ETAM CRU is absolutely unbelievable. The duo have been prolific in creating magnificent large-scale works all across Europe. Check out Bezt and Sainer’s work on their website: etamcru.com and have a look at the videos of the two at work.

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An artful R!OT in Southern Africa

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Bulowayo-born, Joburg-based Sindiso Nyoni aka RiOT is a super talented, multi-disciplanary illustrator and graphic designer. His work, which he refers to as Guerill[art] combines a multitude of traditional and digital illustraton techniques to create engaging visual social commentary.

Sindiso tackles issues like xenephobia, police brutality and African dictatorships through his work. He’s been featured in many publications and international exhibitions including the 2010 International Biennial Poster Exhibition in Mexico titled, Voices of Freedom.  R!Ot’s also done quite a bit of commercial work for the likes of Adidas, Nike and Feiyue and toymaker ToiToy.

Check out his work at studioriot.com

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MEET THE SOWETO STYLE TRIO WHO SEE THINGS A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY

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Twin brothers, Justice and Innocent Mukeli, together with their best friend, Vuyo Mpantsha are the trio behind a fantastic blog called I See a Different You. Well calling it a blog is a little bit of an understatement. It’s more of a movement born out of a frustration with the way their native Soweto was being perceived in the media. The imagery that people associate with the township is mostly created by people from outside Soweto, is often negative and doesn’t truly capture the way the locals experience it.

Armed with a keen sense of style and digital cameras, the crew from I See a Different You explore the place they grew up in with warm, nostalgic images, a fresh perspective and more importantly through their own lens.

They’ve traveled to Tokyo, Senegal and Paris to expand their project and here’s what they had to say about it in an interview with online publication Dazed Digital:

 “I See A Different You started in Soweto and it’s changed people’s perceptions of Soweto. Where do we want to take it? We want to take it to the whole world,” says Vuyo. “We want to do I See A Different You China, I See A Different You Atlanta, Jamaica. Brazil too. We just want to take it to places we’ve never been to, places that most people in my country have never been. The problem with South Africans is that they don’t travel, so with this thing we want to change their perception of the world.”

Check out this video from their Soweto Ted x Talk, and be sure to visit their blog: http://iseeadifferentyou.tumblr.com/

All images from I See a Different You.

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