Posted: May 18th, 2013 | Author: Admin | Filed under: Exhibits | Tags: architecture, cityscape, east, exhibit, gallery, heritage, historic, photography, Queen Street, Toronto, Twist Gallery, west | No Comments »
We sat down with David Kaufman, architectural photographer of Twist’s current exhibit, ‘Early Sunday Morning.’ On a lovely Friday afternoon at the gallery, we asked him a few questions about this show and his work. Here are his answers – enjoy!
Of all the historic areas of Toronto, why did you choose Queen Street for this exhibit?
I didn’t choose Queen particularly, I’ve been photographing architectural photography since 1984 and I’ve explored a lot of Toronto. My earlier interest in photography was industrial buildings, some commercial buildings, but over the years more and more of those buildings have disappeared from Toronto. Three or four major industrial areas have either been repurposed or rebuilt, or destroyed wholesale. Oh and one of my interests really is brick buildings, I love the colour, texture of brick as a visual subject. So it just happens that the past few years while I was looking for more and more interesting things to shoot, I discovered that there were a number of buildings that were of interest on Queen Street and as I drove up and down Queen Street, I discovered there were more than a few buildings on Queen Street that were worth documenting so I decided to do it in a more systematic way. And when you’re trying to put on a show, you try to pull together photographs that are of a theme and I thought this was an interesting theme, to do a show that’s centred around the remaining buildings, the historic buildings on Queen.
What kind of camera do you use?
I used to use, for 30 years, a large format film camera, an architectural film camera with a bellows that took 4 inch by 5 inch film. When I switched to digital tools about 3 years ago, I bought a medium format architectural view camera made specifically for digital backs. It’s an Arca Swiss M Line Two. And I use a Phase One p40+ back on the camera which I use to make several images from the same view, then I stitch them together in order to create a bigger file. The back gives me a 40 megapixel file. When I stitch parts of the image together I get a file at least 70 megapixels and sometimes as big as 130 megapixels. So it gives me a greater degree of enlargement with a high degree of acuity in the image.
All the photos in this show have been taken since 2010 with the digital back on a small view camera.
Do you edit your photographs at all?
When you say editing do you mean image manipulation? (laughs, yes)
The big advantage of an architectural camera is that it gives you images and buildings with correct verticals, not converging verticals, which you would get with a small camera that doesn’t have adjustable front and back standards. So I don’t have to do anything in that regard. But I do shoot the images in two, three, or four pieces so I have to stitch them together. But the lens never moves so the image maintains its integrity. And of course I do some colour correction, some contrast correction, and some work on the highlights and shadows. The things that you used to be able to do in the darkroom crudely you can now do with much greater exactitude using digital tools on the computer. My aim is to produce a realistic image, an image that you would see if you walked by the building in good light in the morning on the street.
What kind of paper do you use in your prints?
I investigated a number of papers and settled on Canson Baryta Photographique. The Baryta coating resembles a coating that was on darkroom papers for many years. It’s also a paper that has minimum brightening agent in it – it has a bit but not too much – so it won’t change over time. And it’s a fairly stable paper from an archival point of view. It’s a very good paper. It has terrific colour reproduction. There are hundreds of papers on the market; this has quickly become one of the most favourite papers for colour photographers. It’s very good.
How do you manage to capture such a clear and concise image?
I’ve been photographing architecture for 30 years, so my technique, if I don’t have it my now I’m never going to have it. I’ve done my 10,000 hours of architectural photography.
One, I’m very careful with my technique. Two, I’m using my camera back at the lowest speed possible which gives the highest quality image but the lowest ISO rating. Three, I do all my work on a tripod. Four, I process the images very carefully in Photoshop and Capture One, which is a raw processor for the phase back, with great care to maintain very fine detail, good colour, and high resolution. So it’s really all a question of technique.
Were all of the photographs actually taken on ‘early Sunday mornings’ or is that just a catchy title?
Many of the photographs were taken on either early Saturday or early Sunday morning. One or two were actually taken in the evening. The “Vesta Lunch” was taken in the evening. If you didn’t live in Toronto you might believe it was taken in the morning because you wouldn’t know where the sun sets. But if you know where the sun sets, you know it could have been taken in the morning, because it could look like early morning. But yeah, many of the photographs were taken early in the morning and many on Sunday.
I love Sunday mornings because there’s no traffic, there’s no rush hour, there’s nobody in the city. The only problem with Sunday mornings is that there’s free parking. So actually on Sunday morning after about 9 am, you start getting a lot of cars parked in the streets. But if you start working early in the morning, around 7 or 8, streets are deserted. The sun isn’t in the right place for more than a couple of hours.
Do you believe that preserving these disappearing cityscapes in images is enough or do we need to do more to save them? If so, what can or should Torontonians do?
Oh, in my mind there’s no question that civic authorities in Toronto should make an effort to get all of Queen Street, from Roncesvalle all the way to Degrassi, a heritage conservation district. What it means if something is declared a heritage conservation district, it doesn’t only mean that the individual buildings are protected, it also means that the appearance of the streetscape is protected. In order to get all of Queen Street declared a heritage conservation district, people who live in the area have to petition their councillors from city council and get them to start the process. It’s a lengthy process and businesses and people that live in the areas have to agree on it. But to my mind, it’s worth doing because this is the street more than any other in Toronto that preserves the appearance of the city from more than 100 years ago. It’s the only street in Toronto that has so many streetscapes that date as far back as the 1880s.
The only way to preserve these buildings is to get them protected under provincial and municipal law. It’s the only way to preserve them. Otherwise, as soon as it becomes profitable to tear them down and build condos or larger buildings, landlords will do it, unless they have some sort of civic consciousness.
Do you feel that artists have a responsibility to use their voice and creative platform to speak out for what they believe in?
I think the primary obligation of artists is to their own art, to be good artists. If their ambitions in art coincide with other social ambitions, then it’s a good thing. But it’s not a requirement for a good artist to have a social conscious. There are probably many great artists who had minimal social conscious, although probably a great deal of insight into the human condition. Nevertheless, to have artists join others in social causes, whether it be heritage preservation, income equality, or progressive political movements, that’s always a good thing.
I’m happy to have these images serve a function in the preservation of heritage buildings on Queen Street if they can serve such a function effectively.
You are also a documentary filmmaker, are these two careers at all related?
Ironically the only role I don’t fill in those of my films is that of cinematographer. Film is really a collaborative medium and although I have a very good eye, people that have the experience of handling film or video cameras their whole lives are going to do a better job of it than I do. However, when I do work on documentary films, I’m a hands-on guy in terms of lighting and in terms of the cinematography, I just don’t operate the equipment. They’re only compatible in the sense that sometimes my photo subjects and my film subjects have overlapped – sometimes. And they both require a good eye. A director should have a good visual sense for storytelling and certainly a photographer requires a visual sense. But I actually use them in a different way. Both filmmaking and photography are very intense and filmmaking, everyone knows, requires a lot of work raising money and pre-production/production before you actually get to the most creative part. So I find alternating between film and photography gives me a creative break from each career or vocation, yet at the same time enables me to keep up skills that are useful in both.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists (of an discipline)?
Do what you love. You can’t make art of any merit at all unless you care deeply about what you’re writing about or photographing or the music you’re creating or the pictures you’re taking. You really have to do it because it speaks to you personally on an emotional and an intellectual level. Doing things for commercial purposes is often necessary for making a living from it, but first of all it has to be something that speaks to you on a very deep level. Best advice, only advice.
What’s next for you after this show?
I don’t know. I just don’t know. I’ve started work on another documentary film; I can’t really talk about it now because it’s barely underway. And I have many, many images I’ve shot in 30 years of photography that I will continue to print and hopefully organise into new exhibitions. But even now, as we speak, I’m getting up in the mornings and shooting more images of Queen Street and other parts of the city. I was in Mount Pleasant Cemetery this morning taking some pictures, I’ve photographed that for many years. It’s not on my website but I’ve done a lot of work there. I photograph every chance I get. So I keep working all the time.
Posted: February 1st, 2013 | Author: Admin | Filed under: General | Comments Off
Did you know that there are approximately 250,000 child soldiers around the world? And that 40% are young girls?
Casey Narcis wants you to know.
Casey Narcis is an artist with a conscience. An artist who wishes to provoke and engage viewers with images that speak to pressing social issues. During the month of February, he will be debuting the “What If…Collection,” a photo exhibit that seeks to educate, disturb and spark discussion around the prevalent and immoral use of children in war zones. We recently spoke to Casey and asked him about his motivations, his relationship to art, and his involvement with War Child Canada.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you get your start as an artist?
I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 10 years and being a creative person, this type of career was not very rewarding for me. I have always been interested in the arts – from fashion, graphic design, photography, etc. – and appreciated the creative process. I purchased my first camera about 10 years ago and started to explore photography as a hobby. Photography had captured my passion and has given me a voice without words. I became so involved in this art form that I used every spare moment to learn and understand the craft. I fell in love with this medium because it allowed me to expose another side of my creativity. Photography is not a job for me; it’s a hobby that has extended itself.
What is it that draws you to the photographic medium?
For me, it’s the ability to tell a story and invoke emotion in one single frame.
How would you define/describe conceptual art?
Art in itself is expressive and personal from the creator and from the viewer’s perspective. Conceptual art lives in the “idea”… and asks to look beyond your eye.
Do you feel that artists always have a responsibility to use their creative platform to speak out against social injustices and to critique prevailing systems of oppression?
Artists have the advantage of reaching out to the masses. I do believe they have some responsibility to give back to their audience is a positive way. Let’s face it: actors, athletes and artists all play a major role in society. Whether it’s through their music, photographic images, painting, writing etc., all artists have a responsibility to speak out about “a cause” and help to correct some of the wrong in our society.
To some degree, artists do have the responsibility to critique current oppression to bring awareness to society. Artists have the ability to empower their audiences through their art, and should take advantage of that gift.
How did you come up with the concept for the “What If…Collection”? What was your process for carrying out this concept?
What I wanted to do was tell the story of a child soldier living in conflict from a North American perspective, and with that idea, “What if…” came to mind. What if this was your child, a war child? I wanted the images to be home base, real Canadian children in a real Canadian lifestyle…kids that we are familiar with and care about. They are not wearing rags, there’s no sense of disconnect. By adding one variable to the image – the AK-47 – the whole perspective changes.
How did your connection to War Child Canada come about?
I was inspired by one of their campaign commercials on TV and thought to myself as a photographer, “What can I do to contribute to this cause?” I decided to go to their office and speak with Barbara Harmer, Director of Music and Special Initiatives for War Child Canada. We had an in-depth conversation about War Child Canada and its initiatives. It was that simple. Barbara was very helpful, and we’ve collaborated for the past four years up to today.
In your collection of photos, you ask “What if…this was your child?” How do you hope that people respond to this question?
We live in a society in which we are privileged to have many things, and sometimes these privileges are taken for granted. There are families that live in a society where they do not have the opportunity or basic rights to conserve what being a child is all about.
What I’m trying to achieve is an unsettling feeling of discomfort. The military use of children is wrong, and in most cases this type of injustice only affects us when we conceptually place our own children in that type of environment. I hope the viewers can equate that what happens to children all around the world indirectly and directly affects ours.
What can Canadians do to help end the use of child soldiers in civil/global conflicts?
As Canadians, we have many organizations at the forefront of helping millions of children who are living in the worst humanitarian crisis — helping them to survive and rebuild their lives. These organizations include War Child, Canadian Red Cross, UNICEF, and many more. We need to educate ourselves and become aware of what is taking place in these conflict areas, not turn a blind eye because “it’s too sad.” We can all help by donating to or volunteering with these organizations that are helping to restore hope and opportunities for families living in conflict.
There was a great deal of debate last year around Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 campaign to make Joseph Kony (head of the LRA) famous. Given your investment in exploring the issue of child soldiers, what are your thoughts regarding the campaign?
I found it very sad to see a campaign come to an abrupt end because of the validity of the director and all of the individuals involved. I also found this campaign insulting to those organizations who are trying to save these children and that truly care. Jason Russell, the man behind Kony 2012, did not seem to care about the children and families who are living in conflict areas, or those who are trying to rebuild their lives. His approach to cover the city with Joseph Kony is something that the survivors today would not want to see…let alone make him famous. I found he “oversimplified” the subject of child soldiers.
Regardless of the end result with respect to Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign, the reality is that child soldiers exist today and there are many reputable organizations that do make a difference.
You clearly have a great love for Toronto, which is the city you choose to live and work in. What do you most love about this city and what makes it a great place for artists?
I love Toronto!!! Because of the multiculturalism, you have an opportunity to relish in many different cultures. I find people in Toronto are very accepting to diversity, which is one of the reasons that this exhibit has moved along successfully for me.
Every time I leave Toronto and I’m on the flight coming back, I always say to myself “I’m home.”
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists (of any discipline)?
Being an artist requires not only talent but also hard work and dedication in any of the disciplines. Success will unlikely be knocking at your door; you need to be motivated and make each song, each photograph, each painting, and each piece your best work.
Being an artist is not a 9 – 5 job. It’s a lifestyle.
What’s next for you after this show?
What’s next? Continue to push the envelope and consistently create art with a conscience. My next project is going to touch on the consistent use of “Jim Crow” imagery in hip hop. That is all I can say about my project at this time. You’ll have to wait and see.
The “What If…Collection” runs at Twist Gallery during the month of February. For further information on the exhibit, visit Casey’s website at http://www.caseynarcis.com/index2.php.
To find out more about War Child Canada’s initiatives and how you can help, please go to http://www.warchild.ca.
50% of all proceeds from the”What If…Collection” will be going to War Child Canada.
Posted: January 21st, 2013 | Author: Admin | Filed under: General | Comments Off
“I wanted Twist Gallery to be different from other art galleries. I wanted it to be the type of art gallery where people didn’t feel intimidated. Even if people didn’t follow art or know about art, I wanted them to feel comfortable to walk in and say hello. I wanted to change the perception of how people view art galleries.” – Nadia Kakridonis
Nadia was recently featured in the Career section of She Does the City, a great online magazine for women. She talks about her personal experiences with running a gallery, her views of the Toronto art scene, and her passion for art and events.
Check out the profile here: http://bit.ly/WicuyL
A special thanks to She Does the City for writing a great article and supporting women who are passionate about their careers!
Posted: January 17th, 2013 | Author: Admin | Filed under: General | Comments Off
“What if… this was your child?”
During the month of February, Twist Gallery is honoured to welcome photographer Casey Narcis and his thought-provoking “What If Collection.” In juxtaposing scenes of Western child subjects with military accoutrement and weaponry, Narcis creates unsettling images that force us to confront the innocence stolen from children due to the increasing recruitment of child soldiers in guerilla warfare.
Tickets to the Exhibit Opening (February 2nd at 6:30 pm) are free and can be reserved at email@example.com.
50% of all proceeds will go to War Child Canada, an organization dedicated to providing education, justice and opportunity to children and youth in war-torn communities. Donations can be made at http://www.warchild.ca/donate.html
You can read more about the artist’s work at http://www.caseynarcis.com/index2.php#/home/
Posted: January 10th, 2013 | Author: Admin | Filed under: General | Comments Off
Tasnuva Hasan is a recent graduate of OCADU who majored in Drawing and Painting. Tasnuva’s expertise is on colour and her main studio practice deals with abstraction.
The “Open Minded” exhibition showcases her best and most current works from her final year at OCADU. The five paintings on display share the common theme of an emotional state of being. Tasnuva exploits the associations of certain colours in order to construct a specific colour palette for each painting; each colour palette is designed to evoke the particularities of the emotion under study. Furthermore, texture is used to add in-depth details throughout the work.
During her undergrad years, Tasnuva became highly interested in psychology after taking an introductory class on the subject at OCADU. She studied the human emotions and one of her assignments dealt with the subject matter of depression. For the assignment, she was able — through her colour palette and painting techniques — to capture a phase a patient diagnosed with depression may suffer from. Automatically, this led her to further explore the psychological conflicts and issues that most of us face.
Currently, Tasnuva is working as a part-time art teacher at High Park Family Fun Place. She is also a freelance painter. Tasnuva hopes to pursue her master’s in the future.
Tasnuva Hasan‘s work is showing at Twist Gallery as part of the “Open Minded” group exhibit, which runs until January 26. The show also features the eclectic pieces of Amy Smillie, Brian Lopes Brito, Callen Schaub, Danielle Edwards, Kate Hogg, and Minjeong Kim.
Posted: January 8th, 2013 | Author: Admin | Filed under: General | Comments Off
This series of paintings focuses on the embodied experience of the present moment. The past and the future are concepts that assist us in understanding the passage of time. The current moment is our only opportunity for experience, poised between memory of the past and the mind’s projection into the future. My paintings are a visual representation of this specific state of mind.
As I paint, I consciously attempt to minimize the clutter of preconceived expectations and instead focus on the immediacy of the moment. Colors, composition, texture and movement are applied on canvas, driven by the natural and often unpredictable behavior of the selected materials as they intersect with my intuitive actions during the formative moment. Acceleration, both centripetal and gravitational, is used to manipulate the paint on the canvas.
My hope is that these paintings will inspire you to experience your own present moment.
Toronto resident Callen Schaub is attending his 5th-year at the Ontario College of Art and Design University. Callen specializes in painting, illustration and mural work. He is also a metal sculptor, set designer and art teacher at the Don Valley Art Club, Forest Hill Art Club, City of Toronto Community and Story Planet. He has organized and curated group and solo art shows and has done commissioned murals, book illustrations and published magazine illustrations.
Check out Callen Schaub‘s work in Twist Gallery’s Open Minded group exhibit, running until Jan. 26, 2013. Also featuring the pieces of Amy Smillie, Brian Lopes Brito, Danielle Edwards, Kate Hogg, Minjeong Kim, and Tasnuva Hasan.
Posted: January 4th, 2013 | Author: Admin | Filed under: General | Comments Off
I work with an array of materials, looking at the colours and textures they can produce and the senses they can evoke. I’m inspired by pattern and repetition through both natural evolutions and man-made wonders like a formation of a pine-cone or a ceiling full of mosaics.
My thesis year at OCAD took me to Italy and abroad—with my heart skipping a beat behind me. Viewing other cities, cultures, and environments that were foreign to mine opened me up and shrunk me down all at once. It is a wonderful feeling when you realize just how awe-inspiring our planet is, and how much more is out there still to be experienced. The work I have for “Open Minded” is quite personal, using myself as reference for explorations of visual stimulus and optical illusions. I am most excited to witness how others perceive and experience these illusions within the Twist environment.
Kate Hogg is a recent OCAD grad and an artist whose work is featured in the “Open Minded” exhibit, running until January 26, 2013. Drop by Twist Gallery between 7-11 pm on Friday, January 4th and meet the artists at our opening reception.
Posted: January 3rd, 2013 | Author: Admin | Filed under: General | Comments Off
A fascination with anatomy and decomposition of the human flesh allowed me to intertwine creativity with the fear of the unknown. Before even being accepted into OCAD, I had long been intrigued with Francis Bacon, Salvador Dali, Andres Serrano, George Romero (Night of the Living Dead) and Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, whose work all revolve around the unknown, death, macabre, bones and shock factor. I longed to achieve the shock factor.
While at OCAD, I studied vigorously the skeletal and muscular systems of both animal and human, getting a clear understanding of what makes up the human body. My interest in anatomy had become obsessive and my works had gotten darker. My once colourful still lifes were now sober vanitas. By my third year, I was known as “the zombie kid.” My parents always found it odd that I preferred Halloween over Christmas, but supported my work 100% (even if they didn’t get it).
I graduated from OCAD with a Major in Drawing & Painting as well as a double minor in English & Creative Writing in 2012. In the same year, I was accepted into University of Ontario Institute of Technology for my Bachelor of Education. Since then, I’ve been involved with many functions/ fundraisers, including Sick Kids Hospital where Rogers Television provided me with an exclusive interview to share with its viewers.
My hopes are to someday impact the minds of my students the same way many professors at OCAD impacted mine and supported my creativity. Inspiring the minds of those deemed incapable of achieving success fuels my need to create and teach.
Brian Lopes Brito is one of the artists whose work is currently on display at Twist Gallery. Featuring seven recent graduates of OCAD, the “Open Minded” exhibit runs from January 3-26, 2013. All are welcome to the show’s opening reception on Friday, January 4 from 7-11 p.m.
Posted: January 2nd, 2013 | Author: Admin | Filed under: General | Comments Off
This month, we welcome seven talented artists to Twist Gallery for our “Open Minded” group exhibit. All are 2012 graduates of the Ontario College of Art and Design, each artist occupying a unique viewpoint and utilizing a diverse range of artistic techniques.
Amy Smillie is one of the young artists whose work will be featured at Twist from January 3-26, 2013. She recently spoke to us regarding her aspirations, creative processes, and artistic interests:
Coming fresh out of a high school that had been mostly focused on the left side of the brain, it nearly goes without saying that my undergraduate years at OCAD were some of the most eye-opening, heart-inflaming assessments of ability I’ve ever had the pleasure to undergo. The body of work I’ve produced for this show was therefore directly informed by the approach to making art I’ve built up during my time in the Drawing and Painting program there, and in many ways it continues to serve as a cornerstone of my artistic foundation. Following OCAD, I’ve started taking classes at the Toronto Art Therapy Institute (TATI) with the intentions of sharing the healing benefits of art with others, and am quite excited to be pursuing a profession that effectively combines my two favourite fields. It is one of my primary goals at this time to do well in my Expressive Arts studies, and become an RCAT— a registered Canadian Art Therapist.
As for the type of art that I do… it’s all very intuitive. Jungian analytical psychology will no doubt have quite a bit to say about all the symbolism and archetypes being used. For one thing, I’ve always enjoyed contrasts in painting—organic vs. geometric, complex vs. simplified shapes—and have discovered upon many a piece’s completion that the human subjects serve as miniature environments unto themselves. How each figure remains a holistic entity apart from nature… as much as nature constitutes a central part of their being.
Utilizing my primary medium of acrylic paint on both canvas and wood paneling, I create celebratory studies of life through the everyday becoming uncanny, and demonstrate how even the most seemingly mundane of objects, outlooks, and domestic situations can hold a certain spark. One that can become everything from psychologically fascinating to inexplicably unsettling, depending on their interpersonal associations within an ordered space.
My creative process includes the extensive use of photography to get a sense for the hyperreal, without ever actually trying to delve into the perfect mimicry the reference already provides. Instead just focusing on the initial impressions of the copied image, but also occasionally endeavoring to digitally manipulate it to either enhance or fragment the figures and background. Giving my viewers the “blurry glimpses of clarity beneath the artifice,” so to speak.
“Open Minded” is showing at Twist Gallery from January 3-26, 2013. Amy’s work will be displayed alongside the art of Minjeong Kim, Brian Lopes Brito, Callen Schaub, Tasnuva Hasan, Kate Hogg, and Danielle Edwards. Everyone is welcome to attend the exhibit’s opening reception on Friday, January 4, 7-11 pm.
Posted: December 7th, 2012 | Author: Admin | Filed under: General | Comments Off
Twist Gallery would like to thank everyone who attended our opening for Steve Rose’s “Whispered promises and the changing light” on December 6, 2012. It was a great turnout!
Here’s what people were saying about the exhibit at last night’s reception…
- “Evokes wonderful energy!”
- “Very impressive! In my opinion, [Rose’s] best body of work yet. Rich and engaging…”
- “Very inspiring!”
- “Fabulous show and a beautiful choice of venue.”
- “Thank you for a great show! [Rose’s] colour harmonies are unexpected and quite powerful.”
- “Leaves me breathless!”
- “Passionate [and] powerful…”
- “Luscious and austere…”
- “Simply fabulous—Jackson Pollock, be damned!”
- “Thank you for this moving, joyful, gut-wrenching exiting experience. One that I will need to repeat in order to totally digest the impact. And I shall indeed do so.”
If you missed the opening, don’t worry! “Whispered promises and the changing light” will be showing until December 21 at Twist Gallery. Drop by during gallery hours to take a look at Steve Rose’s stunning pieces.