ANGELL GALLERY is pleased to present Lantern, the gallery's second solo exhibition by Toronto-based John Eisler. The exhibition features earlier works not previously exhibited in Toronto, as well as a suite of new paintings. The show runs from February 1 to March 7, 2020 with an opening reception on February 8, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.
John Eisler's art-making process is 'encyclopedic' in that it consists of several steps. First, he applies pigment in various colours and textures onto thin sheets of clear plastic, cataloguing and classifying them before cutting the sheets into different shapes and affixing them to the canvas. His assemblages of jostling forms, because of the translucency of the plastic, feel like back lit stained glass or LCD screens. “I want my paintings to assert themselves,” says Eisler. “I’ve most often worked at a large scale and I enjoy the feeling of being almost overwhelmed, of being inside an environment of painting.”
Two paintings, Monster (2019) and Aviary (2016) serve as a contrast and entry point to the most-recent works in the show, which feel meditative in comparison. The primary hues have been replaced by an organic and restrained palette, and the forms and fields of colour are more consciously arranged. “I'm working with the same processes and materials as the large paintings, and I'm maintaining certain elements, such as a transfer printing process to give the impression of layered and textured surfaces, and a working procedure that mechanically removes my hand,” he explains.
Eisler uses the word 'reiterative' to describe the Cavity paintings (2019-20), a reference to the patient yet persistent repetition of form and composition across the series. Visitors to the studio have read the central circular forms as aerial views of the tops of people's heads, open mouths, faces, smiles, grins, scowls or figures in a landscape. “The irregular geometry references biology, fallibility, the small differences or imperfections, giving an earthly persona to the primary forms,” says Eisler. “The forms are wildly, perhaps hopelessly, open to interpretation, like a familiar face prior to recognition and embrace.”
The large works Curtain 1 and Curtain 2 (2015) consist of stretched PVC that has been coated in acrylic and then perforated. The surfaces have been subtracted from in linear patterns, like an obscure text composed of tiny absences. The shadows cast on the walls behind migrate these pieces into the realm of sculpture, enhancing the impression that the surfaces are penetrable membranes through which viewers could read or pass. Unlike Eisler's earlier paintings, which seem intent on revealing all while keeping viewers at a physical remove, these works beckon viewers to come closer and engage in quiet moments of contemplation. “While painting, my thinking is changed, my brain and body are different,” says the artist. “I hope viewers experience something equally transformative when looking at the work.” - Bill Clarke
Installation photographs by Alex Fischer.