A Colour Theory: creative concepts, artistic diversity

May 12, 2014

FAJO supports


From March 10 to March 17, Canadian Art Concepts (CACC) hosted a large art exhibition, highlighting the work of seven Canadian award-winning artists. The show was held in Toronto’s celebrated Distillery District.

FAJO was the proud Media Sponsor of A Colour Theory exhibition that was conducted in Arta Gallery and featured the following expert artists from across Ontario: Jan Wheeler, Blair T. Paul, Sabine Liva, Michael Toole, Sarah Phelps, Mike Smalley and Susan Lapp. All artists were showcasing a number of their favourite works at the exhibition, and several also presented videos that outlined their art ideas and inspirations.

CACC specializes in the creation and implementation of new, Canadian-based art concepts.

“Light and colour can influence how people perceive the world,” said exhibition’s curator, Julia Yakobi, who is also the owner of CACC. “As a powerful form of communication, colour is irreplaceable. A Colour Theory exhibition explores colour as a tool in the artist-viewer interaction: both through the artist’s understanding of the outside world and inner emotions, and the viewer’s personal interpretation of the images based on a specific colour perception.”

Yakobi also held a large launch party on March 13, filling the gallery with Toronto’s fashion, art and media elite. In this feature, we highlight the key moments of the showcase, from set-up to launch party.

Exhibition set-up

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At the launch party (part 1)

Video by Aleyah Solomon.

At the launch party (part 2)

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About the artists

Blair T Paul (AOCAD, OSA)

“I’ve always had an admiration for the natural world and the greater fear for what is going on today — our environment seems to be under a great threat. My concerns haven’t diminished; if anything, they have become stronger.

“I started this series in the 1980s. My art makes you think about what we do to the environment and what we do to each other. The technology is isolating us, it is a double-edged sword. People may not communicate the way they used to or to the same extent. Some of the paintings might be pointing in the same direction, especially my piece Are You There? In this painting, two houses are separated by a very deep valley, and the bridge that is between them stops half way. There is no way for people living in it to communicate with each other, and I think that is very symbolic. This piece was painted in 2010.

“Teaching is a very prominent part of what I do. Communicating ideas is essential and helps people find a direction they want to go in. I feel really good about this facilitator role, and I really enjoy it. I’ve also always been very intrigued by science.

“My work is highly personal and very sincere. I think if you want to be a serious artist, an artist that people are going to believe, you have to be sincere. I never followed trends. I’ve always really tried to be original, looking at my experiences and flipping them together to create something unique.

“Some of my work can be found in my book On The Edge of Discovery: Contemporary Paintings in A Personal Context (Penumbra Press).”

Sabine Liva

“All of my work is based on landscapes, and it’s just an amalgamation of the scenery that caught my eye and represents the moments that I imagined in various landscapes or through my travels. My focus is Toronto’s water side, as my studio is by the lake, in the harbour front. 

“I’ve been painting and drawing since Grade 6 in an art school in Riga, Latvia. This was followed by my studies at the academy of art in Latvia, where I studied textiles. I chose this because it was more experimental. My focus was on collages and mixed media. Afterwards, I came to Toronto and got accepted into Ontario College of Art [now OCAD].

“I work with oil on canvas: I always think of textures like silk or tapestry, and translate them into art. My work is abstract, sometimes I take very specific objects and change the context around them to create something more unpredictable.”

Susan Lapp

“My art is centred around colour and the colours really mean a lot to how I balance my expressions. My main inspiration is nature, specifically the wilderness.

“I don’t have a specific colour palette unlike some artists, it changes as per my mood, with wilderness always in the back of my mind. I do a lot of portaging and canoeing in my free time. I’m also a professional flutist, studio musician and church music director. My parents are both artists – my father is a furniture designer and pen/ink artist.” 

Jan Wheeler

“Nature is a big part of my work. I go to various parks and wilderness areas, as well as really raw dramatic areas of Ontario. I love geology — ancient rocks and landscapes inspire me. A lot of my work is also inspired by movement — be it wind, light or shadows. I really love the intensity of storms. I love the building of clouds: I see so much movement and colour. We have a sailboat as well to give me different perspectives. It dictates what kind of materials I can take with me. We’ve had some close calls there. I’d take quick succession of drawings, compile them in studio and blend/layer to create a moving composition.

“In the past I’ve done some portrait work, and was also in the Middle East many years ago, where I did a series of street scenes with kids in Jeddah. A couple of my pieces won awards in New York competition.

“I’m the Canadian contemporary Group of Seven artist. My work is included as part of the Friends of Killarney Park, and I also just became the signature member of Artists for Conservation.”

Michael Toole

“I generally see something that I want to take a photograph of several times before I take an image. I look at the colours present and what they look like.

“In my series shown at this exhibition, I took window pictures over the course of several months, every time I went back the light was different and the colours were different too, so I created collages.

“I used to paint before, by mixing bees’ wax with resin, so it was hardened, and also mixed with oil paint to create different colours.

“My father was a chartered account and his outlet all his life was photography. I learnt traditional photography from him. I worked for correctional services of Canada for many years but decided to do professional photography 10 years ago.

“Generally, I also shoot quite a few trees but sometimes I take a bunch of different shots and then combine them. This can make them look like trees that have no leaves.”

Mike Smalley

“My work in this exhibition focuses on art and sound. There are two very different ways in which sound was recently presented to me. My son who lives in Vancouver is a sound designer and editor. We talked a lot on the phone about sound in graphic terms. At the same time, I was working with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, at their camp at Lake Joseph in Muskoka, and noticed that visually impaired people use sound in a very specific way. I worked with two artists to create an art program for CNIB. We offered painting, collage, pottery, sculpture. For the majority of their lives, people who were visually impaired never had a chance to do this, so they were incredibly excited about doing it. It was also interesting to see that there are vast differences between someone who is blind and someone who is visually impaired, when it comes to art, but they were all trying to graphically represent sound.

“My general inspiration is abstract expressionism, I love the concept of treating the surface of a painting as a two-dimensional theme as opposed to a three-dimensional. I write a lot too and my art often becomes calligraphy. Sometimes, I would just write what I’m thinking and I love typography. In some of my art pieces, you can see up to 1,000 words. I specialize in oil on linen.”

Sarah Phelps

“I use a lot of very bold colours and I paint based on my emotions. Nothing is ever pre-planned: I may not know what inspired me to paint something, but sometimes I’m inspired by people. For example, recently, I had a client who  asked me to paint a piece inspired by their friend who passed away.

“I’ve been painting professionally for the last six years, but I’ve been an artist since the age of three. I took art enrichment all through high school, but ended up going to university to become a wildlife biologist. This mixed educational background influences my work, in a subconscious way. In the past, I focused on sketches and portraits, but recently started doing abstract art. I would say that 99 per cent of my work has some element of nature in it. For example, my blue-green paintings are very ocean-inspired. They have a very organic element to them.” 

By FAJO's editorial team
Photography by Aleyah Solomon & Arta Gallery

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