JUNE 24 TO JULY 18, 2015
Extended Gallery Hours: Friday June 26 and Friday July 17, 12 − 8pm.

Detail of the installation We found ourselves within a dark forest, 2015
9 paintings, oil, acrylic and pastel on canvas, Mylar and Masonite, dimensions variable

The Red Head Gallery is pleased to present We found ourselves within a dark forest an exhibition by artist Gillian Iles.

We found ourselves within a dark forest is the moment between awareness and inception, attraction and desire, desire and repulsion, impulse and implication, idea and plan, thought and action, action and consequence, goal and obstacle, obstacle and outcome.  What is portrayed in this installation is the infinite potential within those moments, specifically within the context of the potential of the next generation in their consideration of what came before and what they want, or allow, to come next. The inevitability of change as an innate inclination of all systems is imagined as a potential suspended moment – the figures are enveloped in a forest made up of a myriad of ideals, options, risks and rewards.  The potential is present in this moment of choice and possible challenge and change by the next generation - their intentions complex, conflicted and indecipherable - the obstacles quietly waiting and the outcome as of yet undefined.

We found ourselves within a dark forest is the current iteration of the ongoing series You can only get there from here. The series portrays the primal inclination for generational shifts and challenges to accepted ideals, as well as the establishment’s prerogative to remain intact and in place. These ideals’ tenuous persistence is of particular interest, as well as the hybrid nature of idealizations that simultaneously repel and attract. Each generation is predetermined to view with skepticism, the canons, established ideals and accepted codes of the previous generation. This is complicated by the primal urge to rebel conflicting with unsettling but implicit desire for that very same thing. The protagonists are amongst idealizations that simultaneously repel and attract, confronted with undeniable allure and simultaneous visceral threat or repulsion. 

We found ourselves within a dark forest combines 2-D imagery, video, and projection, staggered and clustered through the gallery space creating a 3-D installation incorporating both real and illusionary space. The individual elements are freestanding or hanging in the space, creating an environment of shifting illusions for the viewer to walk through akin to a forest of trees.  Content initially hidden from view reveals itself as the viewer’s progression shifts through the installation, causing shifts in interpretation - primary and secondary narratives overlap creating multiple narratives that are intentionally discordant, but not unrelated, and serve to directly influence and redirect each other’s interpretation. That fusion reveals the precarious existence and intention of ideals and the conflicted nature of responses to them.  Partially obscured identities, the ubiquitous hoodie and selectively cropped views perpetuate the vagary of intention by the burgeoning generation.

The installation is an accumulation of illusionary structure & form, actual structure and form and temporal structure and form, contextually fusing and blurring the definition of real and illusionary. The fragile persistence of a system or order and inevitability of change is imagined through the presentation - the imagery has a convincing reality from one point of view, but as the viewer walks past elements this reality from the back is revealed to be a constructed veneer of theatrical illusion and fabrication.  The viewer ultimately determines their willingness to let the illusion persist as their reality or challenge and dismiss it as a house of cards built by those who came before. 

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.  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 part of Blunt Collective and Glasshouse Collective, which investigate the role of representation and narrative in visual imagery.  Gillian teaches at the Ontario College of Art and Design and Sheridan College in Canada.

Recent work combines environmental scale paintings with sculptures, video and projection, creating installations incorporating both real and illusionary space, transforming exhibition spaces into a composite of shifting reality.  Areas of investigation are the existence of accepted ideals, social orders and idealized lifestyles especially as they pertain to Western culture.  Their tenuous persistence is of particular interest. 

Detail of You can only get there from here stacks, 2014
Oil and acrylic on boxboard and photo prints mounted on wood, 3 pieces

Detail of “We found ourselves within a dark forest”, 2015
Video projection, oil, acrylic and photo prints on mylar