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July 18 - August 15, 2015

Ripley Whiteside
A Peaceable Kingdom

Andreas Rutkauskas
Oil!

Opening Saturday July 18th from 3pm to 5:30pm

372 Ste-Catherine West suite 216
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
H3B 1A2

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RIPLEY WHITESIDE  /  ANDREAS RUTKAUSKAS


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RIPLEY WHITESIDE


The “New Nature” in Ripley Whiteside’s A Peaceable Kingdom

A primary source of inspiration for Ripley Whiteside’s series of drawings is American painter Edward Hicks’s (1780-1849) series, The Peaceable Kingdom (c. 1825-49), which literally depicts the Bible verses Isaiah 11:6-8; paintings portray, for example, a wolf lying down with a lamb. Unlike Hicks’s works, Whiteside’s drawings, made with both homemade “all natural” as well as manufactured inks, are not religious but secular – animalist, rather than humanist. Whiteside has depicted his animal subjects life-size, the better to confront us. He has also very deliberately represented the animals looking back at us. The returned gaze has particular significance in western art. Edouard Manet’s painting of a prostitute, Olympia (1863), discomfited nineteenth-century viewers, because they were used to female nudes who looked away coyly or covered their eyes with their arms, making their bodies accessible to the (male) viewer. In Manet’s work, Olympia’s returned gaze was read as confrontational and antagonistic. The returned gaze also signifies consciousness, agency, interiority and, if we are to consider the religious precedent for Whiteside’s drawings, the returned gaze may well be interpreted as indicative of the soul.

The animals’ returned gazes hold us in our place; they hold us accountable for our actions and decisions. We are looking at these animals, but with their gazes turned back on us, we see ourselves complicit in the state of the natural world today. However, Whiteside is not sure how we can be held accountable. Indeed, in conversation with me he noted that our behavior (frequently violent to ecosystems) might be difficult to distinguish as unnatural; we have become the guiding force of evolution. With this in mind, the title A Peaceable Kingdom takes on an ironic ring.

Another source of inspiration for Whiteside’s series was Stephen M. Meyer’s The End of the Wild (2006). Meyer’s book drives home the negative impact that humans have had on the environment, and is particularly concerned with the extinction crisis. He identifies three categories of species: relics (species that have moved to the margins in order to survive), ghosts (those that will not survive on a planet with billions of people), and weedy species (those that thrive in continually disturbed environments). Meyer shows, ultimately, that we are among the weediest of species. But the hubris of humankind makes us believe that resources are unlimited and we often turn a blind eye to the deterioration of our planet.

In this series, Whiteside selected animals from a range of spaces – both natural and human-made – found on the island of Montreal. Many of his non-human animal subjects are based on multiple visits to the Biodome, while others can be found (or are available) in pet stores, in bodies of water, on Kijiji, at the SPCA, in houses and apartments, and (at least seasonally) in parks and areas of open land. Each drawing has been given a title inspired by different areas in the island: Pierrefonds, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Côte des Neiges, and Rosemont, among others. Likewise, all the backgrounds are landscapes actually present in Montreal. This is the new nature in which we live, where flora and fauna must exist in concordance with all aspects of human activity. In these drawings, animals are “unboxed” (to use Whiteside’s term); that is to say they are removed from the confines of their typical existence on this island, and here are considered a part of a fantastic (albeit, paradoxically, realistic) ecology.

Finally, a word on humour. These drawings are not all doom and gloom. Far from it. There is a sly kind of humour in the unexpected juxtapositions between species that would not normally mix – for instance, a mouse, a tabby cat (modeled by Whiteside’s own cat, Sailor), and a coyote in the drawing entitled Notre-Dame de Grâce – the food chain upended. In Ville-Marie, a Chihuahua and chicken sit atop a caiman in a field of tulips. Mount Royal is majestic in the distance. These unlikely companions occupy the pictorial space, apparently peaceful and at ease. The animal subjects, while utterly realistic due to Whiteside’s tiny brushstrokes and his close study of animals at the Biodome, in photographs and in field-guide illustrations, are anthropomorphized with their human-like eye contact. While not unnerving like the “talking dog” Goofy who “owns” another dog, Pluto, in the Disney universe, Whiteside’s animals are both poignant and funny. How very human.

- Julia Skelly
Concordia University

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Ripley Whiteside was born in North Carolina in 1982. In 2008, he graduated with a BFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned an MFA in 2012 from SUNY-Buffalo, where he also taught foundations art courses. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions in the US and Canada, and has been the recipient of various grants and residencies. He lives and works in Montreal.

- Ripley Whiteside's artist website

- Kelly Stock, "SOME SPECIES WILL THRIVE" , Eve and Fall, August 24, 2015

Un royaume pacifique   Un royaume pacifique   Un_royaume_pacifique   Un_royaume_pacifique
Lachine
ink on paper
2014
143.7 x 176.5 cm(56.5" x 69.5")
  Ville-Marie
ink on paper
2014
116.8 x 211 cm(46" x 83")
Rdot
  Pierrefonds
ink on paper
2015
146 x 194 cm (57.5" x 76.25")
Rdot
  Mount Royal
ink on pape
2015
146 x 191.75 cm (57.5" x 75.5")
Rdote


Un royaume pacifique   Un royaume pacifique   Un_royaume_pacifique   Un_royaume_pacifique
Rivière-des-Prairies
ink on paper
2015
40x 58 cm (15.5" x 23")
  Dollard-des-Ormeaux
ink on paper
2015
35.5 x 58.5 cm (14" x 23")
  Anjou
ink on paper
2015
40.5 x 58.5 cm (16" x 23")
Rdot
  Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
ink on paper
2014
126 x 147 cm (50" x 58")
Rdot


Un royaume pacifique   Un royaume pacifique   Un_royaume_pacifique   Un_royaume_pacifique
St Laurent
ink on paper
2015
33 x 58.4 cm (13 x 23")
Rdot
  Dorval
ink on paper
2015
57.5 x 60 in. (146.1 x 152.4 cm)
Rdot
  Outremont
ink on paper
2015
39.4 x 58.4 cm ( 15 1/2" x 23")
  Cotes Des Neiges
ink on paper
2015
144.8 x 190.5 cm (57" x 75")


Un_royaume_pacifique      
Rosemont
etching
2015
42.5 x 56 cm (16.75" x 22")
edition of 12
 
   



ANDREAS RUTKAUSKAS

Taking its title from a 1927 Upton Sinclair novel, the single channel video Oil!, brings the viewer on a journey through the jerker line system, developed in the 1860s and still used today to draw crude oil from the wells. What begins as an ambiguous sculpture in motion is eventually revealed as a form of Rube Goldberg machine performing the straightforward task of extracting petroleum. The equipment runs day and night, throughout summer and winter.

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Andreas Rutkauskas’ artistic approach focuses on the cause and effect of a range of technologies on the perception,development, and exploitation of landscapes. Through the use of photography, video, and mapping, his recent projects address the impact of Internet-based research on wilderness recreation (Virtually There), cycles of industrialization and deindustrialization in Canada’s oil patch (Petrolia), and the subtle technologies used to survey the Canada/US border (Borderline). His work has been exhibited in solo and group contexts, including oslo8 contemporary photography in Basel, Gallery 400 in Chicago, The Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia, TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary, and The Foreman Art Gallery in Lennoxville. His project Virtually There will be featured in the upcoming 14th edition of Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal. Rutkauskas’ work has appeared in publications including Ciel Variable, ARTnews, and Canadian Art, and he has received grants from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and the Canada Council for the Arts. Andreas currently lives in the Rocky Mountains and works as the photography facilitator at The Banff Centre.

- Andreas Rutkauskas's website
- click here to download the Andreas Rutkauskas's recent C.V.



Un royaume pacifique
Oil!
HD video with sound
10 min. 24s

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