Friday, February 14, 2014

Step into the imaginative world of Curiouser & Curiouser

Norman Barney, Squirrel Heaven, 2013
Mummified squirrels, gold leaf, twigs, velvet. 66 x 77.4 cm 

Based on the delightful and somewhat whimsical artwork of Petrolia based artist Norman Barney, Curiouser & Curiouser offers visitors a journey into the wonderfully bizarre world of the imagination.

Barney, along with other likeminded artists including Jorden and David Doody, Dagmara Genda, Karine Giboulo, Catherine Heard, James Kirkpatrick, Ron Noganosh and Chris Stones, take delight in transforming found and recycled objects, creating works that are visually engaging and entertaining while at the same time examine some of society's most complex and urgent social issues. 

Jorden & David Doody, The Pageantry of Power, 2010
Found objects, 96.5 x 40.60 x 71.1 cm

Each of the eight artists featured in the exhibition all work in their own unique and interesting way,  with found objects, assemblage, collage and readymade. 

The term curiouser and curiouser was first coined by Lewis Carol in his 1865 novel, Alice In Wonderland. Today, it is commonly used to express a feeling that you are seeing or experiencing something that doesn't quite make sense, or that imparts a sense of wonder. The phrase implies being drawn further and further into some bizarre world where one is merely an observer into the odd imaginings of others.

 James Kirkpatrick, bob round, 2011
Acrylic marker, gouache , collage on board, 20.3 x 20.3 cm
About the artists:
Norman Barney was born in Saginaw, Michigan to parents who were political activists. Immersed in the intellectual fervour of the civil rights movement and anti-war demonstrations, Barney absorbed distaste for the brutality of war and tyrannical government. In 1969, shortly after the election of Richard Nixon and the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, he moved to Canada with his parents.

Barney's art is characterized by a delight in juxtaposing found objects, antique tourist kitsch and other found materials into unique relationships, creating art objects that instill a sense of wonder and delight in the viewer. While his assemblages are compelling, humorous and innovative, there is a serious political conviction and social conscience that underpins his work. He currently lives and works in Petrolia, Ontario.

Jorden & David Doody are a collaborative team whose artistic practice is heavily influenced by world travel and the cross pollination of mass media, ritual and fetishistic cultures. Their practice moves freely between new media, sculpture, and painting. A common thread that can be traced throughout their work is that of assemblage. By sampling freely from a multitude of different sources, they are able to access unlimited individual histories, societal contexts and cultural symbols. The Doody's live and work in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Dagmara Genda's work is informed by her self-proclaimed nomadic restlessness. Working with cliché Canadiana imagery of a tamed wilderness often represented in coffee table books, her 'drawing collages' investigate the chaos of life and how we negotiate an understanding of society, an activity that is always in flux and completely contingent on context. Genda currently lives and works in Guelph, Ontario.

Karine Giboulo is a Montreal-based multi-disciplinary artist who creates work in two- and three-dimensional form. Made up of dioramas populated by doll-like figures, many of these microcosms represent distinct nations and parts of the world including Canada, Africa, India, China and the Caribbean. Giboulo explores complex social issues such as environmentalism, urbanization, globalization in the information age, and the pursuit of consumer goods and material wealth. Giboulo currently lives and works in Montreal, Quebec.

Catherine Heard creates artworks that interrogate the histories of science, medicine and the museum. Simultaneously attractive and repulsive, her works delve into primal anxieties about the body, manifested in images of the monstrous body, the doppelganger, the abject body and the inform body.

James Kirkpatrick currently resides in London, Ontario where he is producing work in a variety of media including drawing, painting, avant-garde hip-hop and electronic music, sound sculpture, zines, comics, and mask-making. His work is often constructed from used electronics, wood, fabrics, and found materials. His paintings incorporate sculptural, kinetic, and auditory elements, as he combines his 2D aesthetic with circuit-bent electronic toys creating hand-held sculptures that function as both musical instruments and experimental sound machines.

Ron Noganosh's sculptural assemblages integrate aspects of his Ojibway heritage with contemporary civilization's garbage to create ironic comments on ecology, racism, identity and socio-economic hierarchies. His work is filled with humour and irony as he brings new meaning to discarded objects while exploring questions of culture and identity. In addition to his imaginative use of recycled garbage, Noganosh also makes sensitive use of the more natural materials he finds —feathers, wood, stone, bone, and fur. Born on the Magnetawan Reserve on Georgian Bay, Noganosh is currently living and working in Ottawa.

Chris Stones lives and works in Thunder Bay, Ontario. As a sculptor and mixed media artist with a keen interest in his natural surroundings, the lake and the region figure prominently in his work. His ability to select and see the potential of found objects to create sculptural assemblages is a defining strength of his practice. At the heart of his reclamation and employment of found materials is an examination of the tensions and issues most pressing in the contemporary lives in the Thunder Bay region.

Curiouser & Curiouser is now on display until May 11. For updated exhibition and event information visit 

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