Highpoint is proud to announce our next international exhibition in partnership with Open Studio, Canada’s leading printmaking center. Open Studio is a non-profit, artist run center dedicated to the production, preservation and promotion of contemporary original fine art prints. Open Studio provides multi-faceted services, programs and information to artists and the public alike. As a national organization, Open Studio offers affordable and equal access to printmaking facilities, programs and services for artists from across Canada and abroad.
Essay by Jennifer Bhogal, Executive Director, Open Studio
Disappointment, fear, and anxiety are felt and harboured by us all. Creative outlets help us cope and process the turmoil within. Further, a playful approach to imagery attracts us by stroking the inner child, easing us into confrontation with the demons we house. In Playing With The Dark, four artists use play as a tool to communicate a cross section of collective woes.
Referencing Francisco Goya’s Disasters of War suite, Daryl Vocat’s Playing the Game series of 20 etchings transport and alchemize the original representations into present day explorations of masculinity, violence and ritual. Continuing with Boy Scout imagery integral to his visual landscape, and overlapping renditions of societal expectations on men, he works through the challenges of sourcing an identity balanced with internal truths and external expectations. Sifting through childhood and its meanderings through our adult psyche, Vocat presents a vista equal parts menace and mundane.
Also turning to visuals familiar to most, the seemingly light ramblings of an inward-looking thought process in Shannon Gerard’s Unspent Love exquisitely slap those exploring her work with the reality of how our inner failings affect our closest circles. Confident and elegant, Gerard’s visual and text narratives, presented as graphic constructions in various print media, woo the viewer with grace and whimsy, and then force an uncomfortable, cold confrontation with human frailty and fault.
Further to a visual pleasantly presented, Jennie Suddick works with amusing concepts and constructions while allowing darkness to wait in the wings. The word cryptozoology induces a smile, while the pursuit or study of a yet unproven existence of a species is not a completely light- hearted endeavour. With a pre-packaged matchstick model kit, Suddick emphasizes the urge to poke fun at the attempt to find evidence of a Big Foot creature, while simultaneously putting the viewer on edge with the dramatic title of TRAP and it’s confining implication. Her Enclosures, small, Plexiglas boxes housing hairy hominids as if in a zoological display, further underline our lack of cohesiveness with nature; that desire to contain and control, always at odds with the natural order of our world.
Laine Groeneweg, Boy is a Plane
Image courtesy of Open Studio
Falling into velvety darkness with enough light to see our protagonist, one’s experience with Laine Groeneweg’s mezzotints overtly further the theme of dark play, mirroring the effect of a dream; a hazy yet focused stage, playing out our anxiety and desires. This is where Groeneweg intends for us to travel: to visions of whom we want and could be, detouring through self-doubt and the realities of adulthood. Young lads pose for portraits declaring their intentions for the life ahead of them, while wearing the weight of lost innocence in their responsible gaze.
Repetition, innate to print media, parallels youth’s desire to experience the same story or game over and over; similar to an undesirable memory or image repeating in our psyche, or existing in our mind’s eye as a never-ending loop of disturbing scenes. The elemental quality of print to repeat and re-experience the same visual allows us to revisit our childhood nature, underlining the way negative experience can torture with incessant repetition. The artists in Playing With The Dark utilize that childhood attraction to repetition with playful imagery to highlight, and perhaps reconcile the darkness looping within.