“Shaping Up”

Exhibition presented at the David Kaye Gallery
October 4 – 28, 2012

My exhibition of new paintings at the David Kaye Gallery has been up for a couple of weeks now and I have posted here a carousel of the complete show. The opening went very well. There was good attendance, the gallery being standing room only with wall to wall people for a period of time. Mostly there  were friends and well wishers and its nice to see that kind of support. and there was also some buyer interest which is great.  I have to be very pleased with the good turnout. It was a lovely warm evening with the streets outside very busy and after the opening several of us went out to the Delux Restaurant on Ossington Ave for drinks and dinner. I love the relaxed ambiance of the place and the homemade donuts are sensational.

With titles like “Perfume” and ” Night Whispers”, the work was about things you can’t really see. My painting exists in a breach between representation and abstraction. It  is not pure formal abstraction nor is it sharp eyed objective realism, it does however represent a real time and place that is abstracted through association and evocative imagery to conjure things that are not seen but are part of real seeing experience, like a fragrance or a sound or an imagined narrative.  That comes from the engagement of making the painting, the time one spends in the process of making it is a narrative in itself. Hence the interior theme in the paintings which I see as a metaphor for a personal psychological interior.

I hope you enjoy the new work.

The drummer motif in my recent painting is about a couple of things. One is a memory of my neighbour Muhtadi, who was a conga player that lived below my studio at Queen and Ossington 20 years ago. He was a very friendly musician from Trinidad and ran an after hours bar in the basement that had some of the best music in the city at that time. I do miss those days and his music.

I also see the drummer as a promethean figure, someone who is continuously drumming. So as Prometheus represents work and struggle in his endless task so does the drummer. There is another reference too, I have a deep admiration for the Jazz and Motown musicians of the 50’s and sixties’ who struggled with public disdain and indifference in post-war America. In spite of the social and racial barriers facing them they continued to believe in their vision and carved out a powerful personal expression. Their music signifies a language of resistance.


Looking at this painting, first off you can see a dark bluish background that hints at an interior space of a room, then out in front there is a stylized table that is tilted up to give a sense of flattened space. The abstract pattern provides a structure while the other elements are some things that the viewer can easily identify. Like a pair of old blue jeans that wrap over the lower edge of the table looking as if they were tossed onto the scene and a vinyl record album cover that is situated above and to the left of the jeans. A pair of sneakers lies under the table.

The jazz album cover features a saxophone player (Eric Dolphy) etched in a grainy black halftone on a yellow ground with the title “Out There” in red. “Out There”, was an informal saying that musicians used to mean experimental form far different from popular style. The sax player has a great facial expression of intense focus and soaring transcendence. There is no cool irony; he’s out there. These are now gentrified and mass-produced American icons and it’s easy to overlook that at the time, jazz, sneakers and jeans were symbols of boundary breaking culture. Jazz and blue jeans were cool symbols of non-conformity and anti-establishment creative fashion. It was so rebellious and its so fun to look back on.

It was also a fun painting to work on and I hope you enjoy it too.


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