From July 20th to August 23rd, 2019, BoxHeart Gallery welcomes guest curator Natalie Shahinian as she presents Allsorts, an exhibition of artworks by five Canadian artists - Carmelo Arnoldin, Robert Davidovitz, Andrew Ooi, and collaborators John Armstrong and Paul Collins – whose distinct application of pattern offer many ways to experience and make sense of life.
Natalie Shahinian is an independent writer and curator based in Toronto, Canada. Her formal and continuing education in Semiotic and Communication Theory and Art History (University of Toronto); Creative Writing and Children’s Writing is evident in her narrative style and inquisitive point of view. Her articles, reviews, and copy have been published at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Centre des Art Actuels Skol, Montreal; publications Lola, Devil’s Artisan, and New Art Examiner among others. Her interests extend from 1960s American Minimalism to Realism and mixed-media assemblage, like artists Janet Fish and Alfonso Ossorio. In either extreme, Shahinian studies how artists convey the poetry of space to which she feels they are compelled to create. The exhibition, Allsorts, is an example of that examination, and those considerations made by the artists through pattern: reframing, restoring, and reinventing traditional art forms to intermediate the physical space between the viewer and the artwork, one world and another.
If we think of art as an artist’s attempt to construct physical or metaphysical order, then pattern must be the approach to that order. Physically, an artist needs to adhere to the principles of the natural world and the elements to which it is organized – this being the basic geometric shape of circle, square, triangle, and line. Metaphysically, an artist must arrange the natural order, wholly uniquely, so the pattern can supersede its function to organize and relate, but also, guide: like a map or set of instructions. If an artist succeeds to present pattern as a kind of exit from the customary or even chaotic, then they have devised the metaphysical way to exist in the physical world.
In addition to their handling of pattern and use of geometric shapes, Shahinian selected the artists for Allsorts based on their unconventional merging of materials with traditional art forms. Carmelo Arnoldin weaves aluminum strips cut from scavenged soda and beer cans; Robert Davidovitz pipes acrylic paints from a pastry bag. Andrew Ooi sculpts folded, painted papers, and collaborators John Armstrong and Paul Collins transform photography into painting.
Arnoldin’s woven tapestries ascribes shape and pattern to highlight the complicated histories of North American Indigenous and African cultures, which as his materials, without resolution will continue to recycle. Davidovitz conversely, utilizes pattern to reveal metaphysical geographies, consisting of overlapping shapes and perspectives where order and chaos, meet. Ooi’s paper reliefs are the patterned structures that reify the illusive reality as an expression of its type, similar to DNA, making shape active, dynamic, and ever-evolving. Armstrong and Collins animate pattern across photographs of everyday spaces isolating shapes, pattern, and its variant, texture, with uniform strokes of thick oil paint, producing an additional pattern, moiré, that amplifies, crosses-out, and recreates the underlying photograph’s illusionism.
Taken together, the patterns by these five artists are the key or legend to a map, as well as its navigation. Their artworks dare to unite realities that may or may not exist, consequently, creating another: the entry point into our understanding of life.
View images from Shahinian's 2019 BoxHeart Exhibition, Allsorts: Carmelo Arnoldin, Robert Davidovitz, Andrew Ooi, John Armstrong & Paul Collins.