ANGELL GALLERY is pleased to present A place between the water in the water by Hamilton-based David Trautrimas. The exhibition runs from Saturday, September 7 to Saturday, October 5, 2019. The opening reception with the artist takes place on Saturday, September 14 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
In the series Habitat Machines (2008), David Trautrimas took apart vintage models of household gadgets – bathroom scales, fans and space heaters – photographed the individual pieces, and then digitally reassembled them into images of fantastical residential buildings. “Writers commenting on those images often described them as dystopian,” he says. “Perhaps, because the original objects dated from the 1950s and 60s, people associated them with the political tensions of the Cold War.”
Regardless, Habitat Machines set the stage for a practice that now encompasses painting, installation and sculpture, but still maintains, as the artist says, “a lot of outright love for mid-20th Century modern design.” The works in this show, however, also draw inspiration from something, literally, closer to home: the renovations he’s undertaken himself to the 1900s house he acquired a few years ago. Upon tearing out some 1980s-era fixtures from the bathroom, he found a number of 1950s and 60s period renos still intact, including pastel-coloured tiles. “I wasn’t alive back then,” he says. “But, I still feel a wave of nostalgia seeing the original architectural features. Nostalgia is a comfort zone.”
There’ s an irreverence and playfulness to Trautrimas’s appropriation of the simple forms and clean lines of modernist design. Trautrimas takes the familiar – in this case, decorative patterning, bathtubs and (heart-shaped) spas – and makes them uncanny. In works such as Pooling Resources or Soaking is Never the Last Step, each element of the composition seems to exist on its own plane. The expected visual relationships are skewed and our eyes are pushed beyond the edge of the picture, making the works feel, perhaps, more like assemblages than conventional oil-on-canvas paintings. How would we navigate such environments if, indeed, they could even be built? “There are definitely liberal interpretations of architectural perspective within the paintings,” says the artist. “I use it as a way to critique the promise of modernism as a salve for our collective woes.”
Despite this, there are subtle mimetic aspects to the work. Portal-like elements in the compositions suggest bodily openings, but Trautrimas is also interested in Aristotle’s ideas around mimesis as an “imitation of action’’; that is, how things are re-presented through the act of forming the images. “The compositions are impressions of spaces that we spend a lot of money on so we’re comfortable in them,” he says. “I’m interested in observing closely the spaces where life happens.” – Bill Clarke