May 26, 2016

Here’s something you may or may not know: say your laptop gets wet, due to an unfortunate incident.  You dry it out for a day or two and suddenly it comes back to life.  All is well!  These things happen, after all.  Six months later it won’t turn on and when you take it back to Best Buy you learn it is filled with rust and useless.  You have to buy a new one.

Alison Milne Gallery Dean West

The Alison Milne Gallery, tucked away on Osler Street above Bloor, is a cool, stylish oasis in the urban summer and the current show, part of the city-wide CONTACT Photography Festival, brings a note of self-possessed LA glamour to the Junction.

I couldn’t help wondering if Dean West is a made up name.  Maybe its because the photographs are all about surface, artifice and style.  In this exhibition, titled The Painted Photograph, people and objects populate hyper-art directed environments.

There is not a trace of the messiness of life in these sumptuous art works.

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St. Pete Beach by Dean West

This vista is so pristine it does appear to be kicked up a notch on the realness scale and hence painted.  Possibly there is an Instagram filter that creates such a vivid blue.  Maybe X-Pro II or…Mayfair?

Some colours are owned by certain artists.  I guess David Hockney lays claim to this particular shade of aqua, so much so that Dean West placed him poolside, in the photo shown below, looking relaxed, enjoying a smoke and the view.

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Palm Springs #2 by Dean West

My favourite piece in this show has to be the domestic interior: the red and white, the fireplace, the bizarre presence of a reindeer, the oppressive tension, the eerily disconnected couple, all these elements work together to create a updated Surrealist Christmas card for the moment.

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Palm Springs #1 by Dean West

Imagine hanging out with these two, in this sterile room, with a low ceiling.  I like the way Dean West takes a fashion shoot type concept it makes it suffocating and ghastly.

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Detail of Orient Point Ferry by Dean West

When is a celebrity not a celebrity?  I think in this Dean West photograph the celebrity is used more as a signifier of artifice than for any typical celebrity points. (Of course this guy does not present like a standard celebrity.  He has a somewhat clownish demeanor.  He is overweight and he wears a pained expression rarely seen on a celebrity.)  And whereas normally celebrities in art are tiresome in this case it really works.  The idea of cast of characters is pumped up to constitute another element along with the colours, the angles of gaze, the perfect light and the flawless sea.

Our culture is so saturated with these larger than life figures that seeing one used in this context was refreshing.  But … generally I’m tired of celebrities and their feckless antics and I was happy to read the recent article in the New York Times defending Gawker and their “opposition to the triumph of celebrity culture.”  Down with the mono-culture!  Long live Gawker!

 

 

 

 

Author: ssnbrttn

This blog is all about looking at art in Toronto now.

2 thoughts on “May 26, 2016”

  1. If you’re handy like me, you will take it apart, dry the parts, and put it together almost as good as new except that a couple of keys are sort of stuck. And you’re not going through that again. It’s always a win for Best Buy.

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