Last week I paid a visit to the studios of a young art collective called vsvsvs. The group, made up of eight young artists, most of whom are grads from Guelph University’s Fine Arts programme,
live and work in a fantastic space off Cherry Street, in the port lands of Toronto.
The series of small rooms includes an “open by chance” gallery space, where they show work by local artists and their friends. They were between shows when I visited, but should have something up again soon. You can check their website, HERE for info.
Three group members where there to show me their work when I arrived. James Gardner met me at the door and ushered me inside, passing two people who were making a solar oven, with plans to bake an apple crumble.
Two group members, making apple crumble.
The solar oven, made from an insulated cardboard box.
A number of small works from previous exhibitions were on display on shelves along the living room wall, and they had prepared a nice spread of cheese and crackers for me.
The cheese board.
James Gardner makes large wooden crudely painted sculptures that jut from the wall as if trying desperately to become three dimensional. They mostly are paintings of rooms, of art galleries. He uses lots of wood and lots of paint. Though none of the work was completely finished, the level of experimentation is good; my favourite thing though, was a partially deflated sculpture of balloons and foam insulation that hung from the ceiling. I look forward to seeing how Gardner’s work progresses over the next few years.
An experimental piece hanging from Gardner’s ceiling.
The studio of James Gardner, member of the art collective vsvsvs.
One of Gardner’s works.
Next was Wallis Cheung. I loved the paint chips laid out in rainbow stripes on her studio wall. Much more exacting and girly than Gardner’s work, my favourite pieces were the two densely painted works sitting on the floor and some quite wonderful miniature sculptures made of paint. They looked like otherworldly landscapes, and they were lovely.
Last was Anthony Cooper. I walked into his studio filled with wood, bits of plaster, plastic and bric-a-brac and couldn’t actually see any art. After a few minutes he pointed out these sculptures, from a series which he said was about the plinth supporting the plinth:
This is a kind of ‘poor’, minimalist sculpture that I’ve seen more of lately – Hugh Scott Douglas and Callum Schuster are also doing this kind of thing. I like it, it’s like a new kind of minimal ‘arte povera’, which itself was about questioning art and the establishment.
This is a kind of ugly art, but one that, at its best, delights in the experimentation of materials and pushing technologies to achieve a very subtle, and often very beautiful, result. It’s back to basics, but not. There’s a great article about food in the Financial Times this weekend that discusses a similar idea.