MASK.ING

Pentti Sammallahti
Ristisaari, Finland (Frog in Water)
Gelatin silver print
10 x 8 in
1974
Signed and Dated on Recto in pencil
$2,000.00 US

Sammallahti’s work is ensured a long life, because with his photographic images he steps outside time and instead grapples with the great mysteries that existence offers the curious: love, death, spirituality, nature — key existential concepts that he would hardly allow to pass his own lips, but would instead be all the more willing to show.

Finn Thrane

This exhibition intends to speak to the human impulse to transform, hide, or construct identity and to underscore the many uses, functions and forms of the mask and the inspiration it has lent to modern and contemporary artists.
Masks are not necessarily things we physically wear; they can be the face we present to the world to transform or conceal ourselves, or the face we put on in order to cope with the rigours of societal constructs or cultural expectations. The burka or niqab is worn by Muslim women of all nationalities by choice or by law, masks are donned for balls, masquerades and sexual bondage in which participants cover up their identities to present themselves as someone else. Children of all ages play dress up, and believe in fairy tales and constructed realities. And in today’s “new normal” the mask is an object of controversy and duality; a symbol of oppression and control, but also of altruism and protection.
Inner masks allow us to conceal within ourselves what we are not willing or prepared to explore. Contrarily Indigenous cultures have long employed masks in ceremonial gatherings and spiritual rituals, where masks are used antithetically, with the intention of exposing rather than concealing an inner spiritual being. Artist’s at the intersection of the 19th and 20th centuries were on a quest for various forms of expression separate from their own ethnography. The influx of tribal masks and statues from Africa, the South Pacific and subsequently the central Alaskan coast and the Pacific Northwest into Europe was their panacea. The appeal of the mystical aspects of nature and notions of physical transformation in conjunction with a new visual vocabulary resulted in radically changing the direction of Western art history.
MASK.ING invites us to contemplate the significance of the mask with its power and transformative qualities. To look at the tensions imparted between reality and fantasy, exposure and concealment, identity and selfhood, amusement and melancholy, protection and vulnerability, truth and falsehood. And lastly to question the profound effect a simple piece of cloth, a carved piece of wood and the power of the mind can have on both wearer and viewer. The tradition of masks and masking offers limitless exploration; and can be part of a quest for poetic connections.

Sara Gulamali
The Green Walk
Archival Pigment Print
38 x 30 in
Edition # 1/3
2019
$1,200.00

Sara Gulamali
Can You See Me Still
9 minute looped video mp4 file
2/5 edition
2019
$2,600.00

Can you see me still? follows a performative use of the green screen around the highly surveilled area of Kings Cross, London. Gulamali uses the green screen as a surrogate representation of the othered body.  In reference to her dual-identity; which manifests the feeling of never belonging to any one place, she creates the performance of becoming a space for relocation and invention.
The shroud which is worn, also alludes to Gulamali’s identity as a Muslim woman bringing the relationship between the surveilled urban city and the covered woman into question. As a result, the green becomes an overall signifier for many different ideas which cannot be pinned down, it simply becomes digested as something alien.

Douglas Coupland
From the Yearbook Series
Mixed Media - epoxy and resin on board
46 ½ x 18 in
2006/2007
$15,000.00

Andy Warhol
Cowboys and Indians: North-West Coast Mask
Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board
36 x 36 in
Edition of 250
1986
Private Collection

Doug Coupland’s ‘Yearbook Series’ [also known as Poltergeist] takes on a similar format to that of school photographs. Coupland is referencing the defacing of a yearbook picture, yet he has taken it to the extreme as he completely masks the faces creating a sense of uniform identity among the photos.
Andy Warhol’s Northwest Coast Mask, from the Cowboys and Indians suite, maintains a consistent conceptual thread in his oeuvre; the manipulative power of the media and popular culture’s ability to affect society’s perception and understanding of history.
Northwest Coast Mask serves as an ahistorical representation of the past, mirroring a popular interpretation of the American West, while masking the accurate historical context in favour of a romanticized, nostalgic version of reality.  It could be argued that Warhol is critiquing colonialism, mass culture, nostalgia, racism and injustice beyond his interest in making the commonplace and everyday endure beyond their natural shelf life.

Tyler Toews
Time it Self
Oil paint, spray paint and enamel on linen
67 x 92 in
2019
$11,000.00

Art historical references aside, Picasso, die Brucke, Basquiat, outsider artist Tyler Toews’ work stems from a place of honesty and authenticity.
Toews’ experimentations with graffiti and screen printing at a young age, led him to his highly gestural and expressionistic painting style.  Driven by his experiences as a youth, Toews found painting to be a cathartic escape from the chaos he found himself living in. As he grew into his practice he found art to be an outlet for communication and a means of exploration into the darker periods of his own life.  He conveys in his work, a positive message of hope and healing and that within the darkness and chaos there is a calmness and light. 

 

I want them [viewers] to just feel the utopian vibe from it, the peace and serenity in the paintings. A while ago, I came in to look at the show with my friend. We were just gazing at the paintings, and before we’d come in, I was feeling all this stress and stuff, just from walking down the street. When we left, we both felt refreshed, like the paintings re-shifted our thoughts.
Tyler Toews

 

 

 

 

Emil Nolde (1867-1956), Mask Still Life III, 1911, oil on canvas, 74 x 78 cm, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Alison Yip
The Sap Collectors
Acrylic on Canvas
2012
Private Collection

The mask, the costume, and the living of the role through to the end: by this device man detached himself from his personal pains and joys—just as a dancer does in a dance.

Joseph Campbell

Beau Dick
Shaman
Cedar, paint, horsehair
2012
$35,000.00
Part of the Beau Dick retrospective, Revolutionary Spirit, at the Audain Museum in 2018

As noted by artist Roy Arden, many of Beau’s designs reminds [me] of Japanese anime characters and commercial Halloween masks; An influence from a European painting, or a Japanese Noh mask, are equally likely to inflect on one of his works.
My style is sometimes referred to as ‘Potlatch Style’ as it comes from a tradition of ceremony which requires many masks to be made in a short period of time. It takes many years of practice and an understanding of balance in order to create a work that appears finished in a natural and instinctive manner, without seeming overthought.
Beau Dick

 

When we talk about restoration and preservation of our culture, we look at art first and we wonder, What does it mean? We talk about identity and we look at the carvings and we wonder, What does it mean? We talk about territorial claims, and how is that pertinent to what these totems stand for. What does it all mean? This art form is ceremonial art. It comes from ancient times and ancient experiences of our ancestors. It’s given to us as a gift from the creator. It’s like a broken down vehicle that hasn’t been running very well lately because it hasn’t been taken care of. Our whole culture has been shattered. It’s up to the artists now to pick up the pieces and try and put them together, back where they belong. Yeah, it does become political. It becomes beyond political; it becomes very deep and emotional.
Beau Dick

 

A hereditary chief Dick was highly active in his community. “In February 2013, inspired by the activist movement Idle No More and spurred on by his daughters Linnea and Geraldine, they walked south from Quatsino to Victoria, British Columbia, where in the presence of some three thousand people they broke a copper named Nunmgala on the steps of the BC Legislative Assembly. In 2014, he gathered even more supporters and broke copper on the steps of Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Dick, the maker of monsters, is exposing some too. The coppers broken on the steps of two houses of power are a call against colonialism and capitalism: “In breaking this copper we confront the tyranny and oppression of a government who has forsaken human rights and turned its back on nature in the interests of the almighty dollar, and we act in accordance with our laws.
Candice Hopkins

Beau Dick
Pookmis
Cedar, feathers, cotton, horse hair, paint
2015
$35,000.00

Beau Dick
Untitled – Dakota Pipeline Protest
Cedar, copper, paint, horsehair
2016
$35,000.00

Tyler Shields
Batman
Digital C Print
40 x 60 in
Sold out edition of 3
Edition number – Artist’s Proof edition 1/1
2014
$20,000.00 US

Tyler Shields cinematographic practice plays with notions of the gaze, power structures, hyper-realism, and iconoclastic-tendencies.  Interested in what it takes for an image to capture and maintain our attention, Shields navigates through the abstract sphere of celebrity into the more tangible world of portraiture, embedding meaning into an ambiguous landscape of identity.

 

 

Steven Klein
Kate in Red
Chromogenic print, mounted on aluminium
60 x 44 in
Edition 1/5
$32,000.00 US

I like to show subjects inside a sealed veneer. There’s a sense that you can’t get in.
Steven Klein
Although trained as a classical painter, Steven Klein is most commonly known for his transgressive imagery shot for the fashion industry.  His innovative and creative approach to art has surpassed the world of fashion and has granted him access to the contemporary art world with solo exhibitions at Jeffrey Deitch and Gagosian.
I feel like my Heiltsuk culture has always been described as having an oral history, meaning that we did not write down our history, instead we told stories to pass on our history and our mythology. I think just as importantly, we have had a visual culture history. Our art is a language. It is not something that can be directly translated into English, and I think that this just has to be accepted. Our style of art, Northern art, has been referred to as formline art. The formline is basically the black line that acts like a skeleton for the red elements in the design. The design style is very complex, yet at the same time incredibly simple, like a paradox; magic in its truest sense. I’m trying to work with this line, its characteristics and it’s principles in new ways. To be free with it, yet retaining its integrity. Its a puzzle, a game, an obsession. It’s a language of line that is constantly evolving, and I’m continuing to learn the language as I go.
Shawn Hunt

Shawn Hunt
Untitled
Acrylic on Canvas
55 x 68 in
2012
$22,000.00

Cindy Sherman
Untitled (Lucille Ball, 1975-2001)
12 x 9.6 in
2001
Private Collection

Through mise-en-scène​, meticulous costumes, wigs and make-up, Cindy Sherman fully embodies her characters and caricatures in her portraits.  Her interests lie in the exploration of identity construction, visual and cultural codes, stereotypes of gender identity, art, mass media, celebrity and pop culture.
Though her work continually re-examines women’s roles in history and contemporary society, Cindy Sherman resists the notion that her photographs have an explicit narrative or message, leaving them untitled and largely open to interpretation.
I didn’t think of what I was doing as political.  To me it was a way to make the best out of what I liked to do privately, which was to dress up.
Cindy Sherman

T. J. Wilcox
Tragedy (Sissi at the Sala Terrena)
Mixed media - Archival inkjet print on watercolour paper, watercolor and collage
84 x 64 in
Inquire for pricing

T.J. Wilcox … doesn’t accept the documentary elements of … life as the only truth worth reckoning with. Nor does he allow the truth to hamper the metaphorical veracity of his characters. …As a kind of happy pendant, Wilcox looks at both sides of the story: truth and illusion. So doing, he makes us look at the truth in fiction, the facts to be found in these voices.
Hilton Als, T.J. Wilcox, Garlands, 2006
The tale of “Sissi, Princess of Bavaria,”, is a large scale collage, part of a 3 segment film series that tell stories about the spectrum of innocence.  Sissi focuses on the tragic life of the Bavarian heroine, Empress Elizabeth of Austria. In this film, Wilcox draws on Sissi’s unhappy marriage at the age of nineteen to her cousin Franz Joseph, whom she grew to despise. After having her four children kept from her and raised by their grandmother she became increasingly erratic and obsessive. In 1898 poor Sissi’s unhappy life came to an end when she was assassinated by an anarchist whilst walking by Lake Geneva. Wilcox positions the story around her love of horses and mixes footage of Lipizzaners shot in Texas with appropriated cuts from a cult narrative of her life.
T.J. Wilcox explores the ways in which personal narratives and cultural histories intersect drawing from personal memory, historical anecdote, fiction, pop culture and myth.  He is interested in the notion of history as an ongoing construct.

 

History is never static. Re-defining what was great from the past is always influenced by the present. I don’t think that process is ever entirely finished.
T.J. Wilcox

Helen Levitt
Boy with Mask
1940
Private Collection

Throughout her long career, Helen Levitt’s photographs have consistently reflected her poetic vision, humour, and inventiveness while honestly portraying her subjects.
A major photographer of the 20th century who caught fleeting moments of surpassing lyricism, mystery and quiet drama on the streets of her native New York.
Excerpt from New York Times

Helen Levitt
Untitled
Gelatin silver print on paper
circa 1946
Private Collection

The Raft of the Medusa, Theordore Gericault, 1818/1819

Adad Hannah
The Raft of the Medusa PPE 1
Archival Pigment Print
39 x 52 in
Edition of 1/10
$6,500.00

Adad Hannah, inspired by the practice of tableaux vivant, reimagines Théodore Géricault’s monumental painting, The Raft of the Medusa, in an elaborate production of installation, video and photography. Ironically this body of work was conceptualized in 2009 in response to the SARs pandemic, yet due to the extensive nature of the work the pandemic had subsided upon completion.  Hannah archived the images until today, where they  feel more relevant than ever.
Hannah’s intention with this work is to activate the viewer’s sense of agency in front of a cultural artifact, using the boundary between imitation and imprecision to create new meaning behind an iconic image.

 

Looking at these images in 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic creates an uncanny feeling. Gericault’s raft, a rudderless vessel cut loose by those in charge and left to drift aimlessly, is once again a potent symbol of inept leadership and the human toll it takes.
Adad Hannah

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun
Untitled
Acrylic on Canvas
8 x 12 in
$3,500.00

In his practice Yuxwelupton employs the use of traditional Northwest Coast formal design elements, the western landscape tradition and surrealist tropes to critique and promote change in contemporary Indigenous history.

 

We are reminded of the Surrealists’ wholesale borrowings from Native American art in search of a direct route into the subconscious. Turning the tables, Yuxweluptun reappropriates those Surrealist tropes, adroitly putting the lie to their attendant presumptions while retaining all of their pop culture allusions to the psychic landscape.
Christina Ritchie  | Canadian Art