© Robert Waters

Robert Waters: Man at Computer

The Real Canadian

Elizabeth Fearon
, Jason Kronenwald, Robert Waters

Trees dripping of maple syrup, bears roaming snow-covered streets, proud Mounties in uniforms on strong horses and beavers on grassy hills. A Canadian dream? Merely a nightmare. Canadians have been struggling with their identity and what consists of being a Canadian for the last generation. In Canada "being Canadian" means not being American. In a country where the number of immigrants is comparable to the number of natives, where the American concept of the melting-pot has been rejected in favour of a Canadian mosaic - allowing new Canadians to keep their old traditions and belief, no wonder that there is an identity crisis.

Contemporary Canadian artists, like their country, produce understated art that presents what Canadians know best - a sense of tolerance, acceptance and interdisciplinary nature - drawing from the culture they live in. The themes of their work are characterised by openness and versatility, often influenced by everyday notions and mainstream culture.

The aesthetic is unique as well, exhibiting a formal understanding of conservative beauty with liberal flair. Not quite as over the top as their American neighbours, not quite as trendy as the Europeans or Japanese. Subtle, but new and refreshing.

"The Real Canadian" premiering in the UK three Canadian artists that challenge the nature and purpose of their materials and present both technical and conceptual versatility:

The fun loving, poster-like, "Gum blondes" that Jason Kronenwald is presenting have no pomposity about them - they are gum portraits for a bubble-gum culture. This meticulous construction of iconic blondes from ordinary bubble gum is both humorous and inspiring. The recognisable faces (Madonna, Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton, in this show), the close up composition and wealth of colour and flatness are reminiscent of tabloid culture and our complex obsession with celebrity.

Robert Waters with his wall installation "Man at computer" uses inexpensive and common brown packaging-tape and labour intensive cutting techniques to depict men staring into a computer screen. These street-wise portraits bring elegance and precision, using enduring life drawing techniques, while crafting a subtle sexual tension.

"Amoeba", by Elizabeth Fearon is a collection of photographs of the artist's hands taken in public photo-booth machines. These familiar passport-sized pictures take a transformation into a living "thing". It is the exploration of the individual hands (the detail, the micro) that brings both a smile and fascination with the black and white photographed images. It is the power of the collective image against the vulnerability of the individual hands that provokes a newfound meaning to these simple photographs of hands.

Curated by Shai Ohayon

Exhibition: June 23 - July 22, 2006
Gallery hours: Fri-Sun 12 - 5 pm or by appointment

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