ANGELL GALLERY is pleased to present Rooms, curated by associate director Bill Clarke. Bringing together paintings and sculptures by emerging and mid-career Canadian and American artists, this group exhibition examines ideas around taste and class through representations of domestic space, and runs from Nov. 10 to Dec. 1, 2018, with the public opening on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
“A cluttered room means a cluttered mind” is a common saying that links the state our living spaces with how efficiently and effectively we approach life. It’s undeniable that the things we choose to surround ourselves with reflect who we are, or aspire to be. For some, the accumulation of objects is a creative act; for others, how they decorate is a reflection of their personality, taste, social status or values.
The exhibition Rooms touches upon ideas around taste and class through a wide range of depictions of domestic spaces and the objects within them. In their paintings, Mark Dudiak and Angela Heisch find inspiration in the faux laminate and plastic surfaces used to convey the luxury of real marble or rare woods, their works hinting at architectural details. The filled-to-the-brim rooms in Andrew Watch’s paintings invite us to speculate about the pop culture-obsessed people who would inhabit them, while Tristram Lansdowne’s sleekly modernist interiors embody the preferences of, perhaps, a very different social milieu. Keiran Brennan Hinton’s charming paintings present yet another contrast, depicting those spaces in which, perhaps, we can most truly relax and ‘be ourselves’. Lastly, socio-economic factors, and how they relate to high and low culture, are considered in the sculptural works of Luke Painter and Josi Smit.
According to Tom Vanderbilt in his book You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice (2017), our desire to amass possessions started with “social learning”. Two million years ago, our prehistoric ancestors saw another hominin using a rough-hewn stone tool that made completing tasks easier, and they recognized the use-value of having one for themselves. Over centuries, this evolved into what Vanderbilt refers to as the present day’s “prestige model”, in which use-value isn’t enough – only the most complex, visually appealing and highly sought-after version will do. For example, a simple $25 kettle will boil water as readily as a $200 designer one, but we’ll covet the more expensive kettle if it looks nicer and we think friends will admire it when they see it on our kitchen counter.
In other words, the relationship between usefulness and extravagance has become increasingly complex... an idea to consider the next time you brew yourself a cup of tea.
– Bill Clarke