John Drew Munro, CLUCA, Alisha Piercy and Alzbeta Jaresova
Exhibition Dates: January 25 - March 9, 2014 (extended) Reception for the Artists: Saturday January 25th, 2-5 pm
The new artists’ exhibition is the product of visits to artists’ studios during 2012 and 2013. The new exhibition artists each have a unique orientation in their approach to the conceptual challenges they address, use specific materials and have strong visions of their own identity.
From small to medium-size in scale; in approach from abstract to figurative representation; and in style from symbolism to deconstruction of classical works; their art is connected through conceptual process or by the influence of history.
Alicia Piercy’s large-scale drawings of fountains on vellum are filled with an explosion of dreamy and delicious candy-like colour patterns in fuchsia, fresh blue, lime, and ochre-yellow, contrasted by shiny black tape or ink. Her use of geometric shapes versus organic forms is significant and Zen-like.
Piercy’s current series—Fountainside—explores the question “What is behind the fountain?” Fountains are symbolic in function and beauty and, in the never-ending flow of water, one can find both serenity and eternity.
Gravity-based fountains were originally designed to be purely functional: water poured into a basin or jet into the air to supply drinking water. At the end of the 19th century, as indoor plumbing became the main source of drinking water, urban fountains became purely decorative. Mechanical pumps have since replaced gravity and allow fountains to force recycled water high into the air. Fountains today decorate city parks and public squares, honouring individuals or events; they serve as recreation and entertainment.
Working entirely from current and vintage postcards of Rome’s Tivoli fountain, Piercy explores the magical powers and beauty of the fountain.
Born in Tours, France, now living and working in Montreal, CLUCA is a unique and expressive artist whose work incorporates nostalgic memories and forgotten photographs of women’s swimwear from the 1920s and 1930s.
Donned in vintage bathing costumes that oddly do not appear outdated for the 21st century, CLUCA’s figures—depicted individually or as a group of ladies—display yearning and desire, hinting at hidden cultural taboos. Their mysterious poses censor all unnecessary backgrounds as mute and focus primarily on body shapes, textures, patterns, and skin.
While visiting her studio this past summer, it was easy to witness the artist’s strong sense of female aesthetics.
Are we in front of a fashion magazine cover, displaying a model dressed by high-end designers whose body has been retouched and resized to be beautiful yet anorexic or are we witnessing an attitude that says “be yourself and be comfortable with who you are”? CLUCA questions these matters in her practice without being obvious.
John Drew Munro’s studio today is rather different from what it was a few years ago, when we were studio mates in Montreal. His work has evolved from a broad palate of various styles and sizes to a cohesive body of abstract works.
Few artists are willing to challenge their talent using encaustic paint—hot beeswax mixed with pigments. It’s difficult and slow to work with. But Munro is fascinated by the minutiae of structure: the encaustic process appeals to his methodical and scientific nature and compels him to work. Munro drew inspiration for the body of work Brightness Falls From the Air from chapter 5 of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. “The paintings are to be seen as a free interpretation of the line and mostly refer to the scientific feel that the words connote.” Munro studies what is beneath, not unlike looking at the anatomy of the human body instead of the surface of its skin. His choice of colours—limes, bright yellows, and umber to burgundy—suggest the contrast between the earth and the universe.
Microscopic and scientific, he combines his signature polka dots/organic elliptical shapes in opposition to perfect geometric lines to reflect the cosmos outside of this world.
Alzbetta Jaresova is an artist based in London (U.K.). Shortly after she completed her MA in Fine Arts at Camberwell College of Arts, UAL, in London, her drawing and installation works caught the attention of Edward Lucie-Smith, Zavier Ellis and Elizabeth Beecher Publishing and she was included in their 2013 100 London Artists Volume 1: 50 Painters iBook.
Influenced by her family and the collective memories of socialist-era Czechoslovakia, Jaresova’s work explores the psychological dialogue created when historical memory is blended with the concepts of control and restriction.
Confined in transparent architectural configurations, Jaresova’s compositions evoke the idea of dystopia, yet her figures seem serene or resigned, enticing the viewer to reflect on the control of societal structures. Her works ask the viewer to think again about the concept of freedom of speech and the actions of current daily life, in comparison with the old days in Eastern Europe.
Each artist borrows from or is inspired by history or the science of materials to find a beautiful way with colour, concepts and scale in order to articulate how inner beauty contrasts with the surface.
About the Artists
Alisha Piercy is a Montreal-based artist, writer and paintings conservator. Her practice includes large-scale drawings, sculptures, as well as the writing of poetry and novellas. Borrowing techniques and motifs from Chinese brushwork, ancient tapestries, Japanese manga, and vintage wallpaper, her drawings work with familiar imagery to lead towards a distortion of harmonious forms. In all her works, the classical gets melted down or explodes. Her landscapes oscillate between calm and explosion, geometry and gush. Typically located at the site of the classical, sublime fountain, the uneasy relationship between fear and fun hovers in smoke.
In 2013, Alisha Piercy held two solo exhibits: at AXENEO7 in Gatineau and at Galerie Diagonale in Montreal. She was also featured in HB, the contemporary magazine for Canadian drawing (issue No. 2). She is among the candidates considered by Galerie Circa for their fall 2014 residency in Nantes.
Her multi-disciplinary project “You Have Hair Like Flags” in 2010 was composed of a chapbook, a thirty-day-long wall-drawing performance in Montreal, and an installation of burning rafts set off the coast of Reykjavik, Iceland.
Following studies in sociology and anthropology, Cluca re-joined the artistic field in October 2007 at the School of Art led by Jörk Kalkreuter in Hamburg (Germany).
Her concerns weave around a complementary trans-disciplinary artistic practice, since she uses painting, writing, performance, and installation, motivated by the choice of the most appropriate medium to translate what she has in mind.
Taken or found, photographs play a significant part in the way she approaches her subjects. Markers of an era, symbols of a universe, they tell a story, a state, a context that she dissects, deconstructs and re-translates.
Body and words are two pillars of her approach – giving body a language and words a body.
John Drew Munro
John Drew Munro is a visual artist who works and resides in Montreal, Quebec. He attended Concordia University and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1989. Since1984, he has exhibited in Canada as well as in the United States and France. His work is included in both corporate and private collections in Canada and the United States. He works primarily in encaustic (a wax-based paint), a technique for which he has given numerous workshops, both institutionally and privately. He also works in oil and collage. His work can best be described as a subjective analysis of everyday experience.
Alzbeta Jaresova was born in 1987 in Prague, Czech Republic, and currently lives and works in London, UK. She completed her BFA in Painting and Drawing at Concordia University in 2009 and later went on to complete an MA in Fine Art at Camberwell College of Arts in London, UK, in 2012. Following her MA, Jaresova received the inaugural Griffin Art Prize sponsored by Winsor & Newton in 2012, which led to a six-month studio residency and culminated in her first solo exhibition at the Griffin Gallery in September 2013.
Jaresova has been selected to exhibit her work in exhibitions such as the annual “Future Map” exhibition, organized by the University of the Arts London showcasing its top graduating students, and “The Future Can Wait” exhibition curated by Zavier Ellis in collaboration with Saatchi Gallery’s “New Sensations” in 2013.
Jaresova’s work has also been featured in several publications, including the annual “Catlin Guide” curated by Justin Hammond, showcasing top emerging talent from across the UK and “100 London Artists Vol.1” by Zavier Ellis and Edward Lucie-Smith – a guide to the most exciting young artists working in London today.