Canada 2 Four
Canada 2 Four is a great show at Hatch Gallery in Bloomfield.
I was very excited when David Hatch told me he was pairing me with Toronto artist, Kurt Swinghammer. I had never met Kurt, but I remember painting to his song, "Canada's Sweetheart - The Karen Magnussen Song" when I was putting a portfolio together for Grad School in the early 90's. There was a poignancy to the song that really got me. It was definitely nostalgia, but it also spoke about how the mediated experience of having her in our living rooms on our TV's informed who we are now. I didn't know it at the time, but it tapped right into what Dermot Wilson later explained to me was my interest in Mnemonic devices.
Kurt's paintings are unabashedly sweet. He has transformed cottage country imagery into geometric-ish patterns. They are colourful and calming. He has successfully zeroed in on iconic imagery and removed distractions to focus on an essential interplay between shape and colour, while still pulling happy associations of cottage vacations from the viewer.
In my work, I am playing with many of the same themes, except my subject matter isn't as initially clear. I include a bunch of qualifying statements. I make the viewer work, look through the layers, and come to some sort of incomplete conclusion. I love the cottage scenes, and hope they illicit great associations, but I also feel there is some ambiguity. The work, "Helpless", feels like a Rosetta Stone for the language of these pieces.
I think the overlap and differences between Kurt's and my work are really interesting. They complement each other in this bright exhibition.
Please visit the exhibition. It is up until July 10. - Ben
David Hatch at work in his gallery with my painting, "Wild Memory" in the background. June 11, 2022
Ben Darrah is an artist based in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.