Towards eternal glory
MARCH 29 TO APRIL 21, 2018
Reception: Thursday, March 29, 6 - 8:30 PM
Reading By Claude Wittmann with Gillian Iles: Thursday, April 19, 3 - 5 PM
The Red Head Gallery is pleased to present Towards eternal glory, an exhibition by artist, Gillian Iles.
Towards eternal glory (Teg) was the official name given to a guided missile frigate in service to the Indian Navy in 2012.
It all started with the pictures of the North Korea’s missile program and their attempts to develop ICBM’s. For all the horror the missiles represented they were also visually beautiful. The sublime nature of power holds us in its spell. This exhibition is a response to the idea of power - its indefatigable presence, but as a construct, the vulnerability of it as well.
Societal power is a fabrication that requires constant molding, flexing and wielding in order to continue to exist. Despite the external hyperbolic posturing, its persistence is tenuous and it is a fragile thing. Some of the work represents this dichotomy - the boldly presented, accessible and overt paintings. These images are direct and unavoidable, demanding the viewer to engage, react and navigate within their presence. Simultaneously, effects beneath their surface seep through, fracturing the continuity of the image and suggesting their impermanence. These images are painted on top of existing unrelated imagery, underlining the temporary and cyclical nature of their existence.
Within the installation, a companion body of work exists which requires a proactive effort by the viewer. Imagery is tucked away, at first not obviously visible, appearing or literally being inaccessible. Imagery sits on acute angles to the walls, the scale is small, and some are positioned out of reach. The imagery requires the viewer to seek it out, to physically work or be uncomfortable in order to view it.
These are the small yet sublime presences of power. The moments we seek out- search for & find, that are reminders of the existence of alternate or elemental power, bigger than us all - power as a subtle presence, but persistent, undeniable and ultimately outlasting the rest.
The installation combines large paintings, small-scale intimate imagery and constructions and 3-D objects. The installation is environmental in scope, with both 2-D & 3-D work assembled, staggered and clustered, constructing spaces and incorporating both real and illusionary environments as extensions of each other.
Although fuelled by geo-political events, the work references the individual experience, tapping into primal sensations and providing visceral opportunities for the viewer. The viewer is always considered to be the final element within the installation.
Symbolic imagery draws from reoccurring themes within contemporary media, digital culture and historical contexts. The composite imagery presents an infinite array of ideals and desires as a sensory collage of fleeting instants that shape greater social identity & individual perception.
Using bias variables - like point of view, scale, clarity of definition, proximity and content relativity - the interactive constructions, obstructions and strategic positioning of imagery demands the viewer interact in particular ways with the work, influencing perception and highlighting and inspiring objective inconsistency and the malleability of response.
The work draws on the existence of social ideals, social orders, idealized lifestyles and beliefs especially as they pertain to colonial Western culture. Their manufactured existence, illusionary value, tenuous persistence and questionable motives are of particular importance. Tenuous social constructs, precarious systems of belief, ephemeral perceptions and the transient nature of opinion are relevant. The inevitability of change as an innate and implacable inclination of all systems is an underlying theme.
A reading by Claude Wittmann with artist Gillian Iles will be held at the Red Head Gallery on Thursday, April 19, from 3 to 5 PM. The initiative to read at Red Head is part of 2894 which started in 2016 and consists in a linear reading of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report (2894 pages long), with all the readings being live webcast and then replayed as recordings on a dedicated internet radio. The project primarily invites settlers and acknowledges that a lot of work has to be done before we can even talk about (Re)conciliation and so, reading is an effort towards Truth. And, it recently developed a second branch in Peterborough which is facilitated by artist, writer and university lecturer Jenn Cole who joined us as a Métis woman and is currently writing about the project.
Gillian Iles’ practice consists of painting, sculpture and video/projection. She has exhibited in New York, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Chicago, Miami, Montreal and Toronto in public institutions, university galleries, artist-run centres and commercial galleries. Recent projects include a solo exhibition at Station Gallery that provides an opportunity for 3 co-related bodies of work to be shown together. Her work has been highlighted in Canadian Art, Mix Magazine, Toronto Life Magazine, as well as the National Post and The Globe and Mail. She is featured in the book Carte Blanche Volume 2: Painting. Gillian was a founding member of two artist-run galleries in Toronto - Propeller and Loop, and is currently a member of the Red Head Gallery in Toronto. Gillian teaches at the Ontario College of Art and Design, Sheridan College and the Toronto School of Art in Canada.
Her environmental scale installations include combinations of paintings, sculptures, constructions video and projection, creating installations incorporating both real and illusionary space, transforming exhibition spaces into a composite of alternate realities. The viewer is always considered to be the final element within the installation.