June 20 – August 18, 2019
Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street
Curator: Mona Filip
Summer Opening Reception: Thursday, June 20, 2019 | 7–9 PM
Bringing the work of artists Raphaël Zarka and Christian Hidaka to Toronto for the first time, this major exhibition extends their decade-long, mutually inspiring dialogue around shared interests and themes. The project will showcase a site-specific mural painting and sculpture installation that continues their collaborative pictorial and sculptural investigations of space, producing significant new works.
Versatile in his approach, Paris-based Raphaël Zarka works with existing cultural forms as material for creative and intellectual exploration. The point of departure for his artistic production is fundamentally sculptural, within the expanded field of a practice encompassing photography, video and the written essay. Referencing science, industry, philosophy and the perpetual human search for new paths of discovery, his work relies on the collection and re-contextualization of iconic forms that range from the minimal to complex geometries. For many years a skateboarder and the author of several books on its history, Zarka’s idea of skateboarding as a re-writing of spaces destined for a particular use parallels his approach to his artistic process. The repurposing of existent structures built for past moments of aspiration and endeavour as well as the recurrence of forms put to new use inspire Zarka’s reflections on skateboarding and by extension art making, as an ecology of critical and contemporary relevance. Working within a vocabulary of spaces and volumes, for him reality is not a question of absolutes but rather a shifting position between what is, has been or might be, depending on your point of view.
Born in Japan, Christian Hidaka lives and works in London, UK. His paintings create imaginary worlds in which both nature and architecture are depicted as unfolding limitlessly, leaving the viewer to wander and explore possibility. Drawn from distinct sets of representational languages, Hidaka’s works mediate references that greatly inform the depiction of the pictorial plane: that of the 1480s, of Piero della Francesca and the influence of Euclidean geometry, with composition dependent on the parameters of the frame; and a second group which infers a boundless unfolding of space that either takes the form of ancient Chinese calligraphic landscape or of the endless digital space that originated in 1980’s computer games. Derived from different sources – Japanese landscapes, science fiction, psychedelia, surrealism and Renaissance painting – Hidaka’s works go beyond their apparent antagonisms to construct a representation of the world that holds a promise of reconciliation. The ambiguity of his compositions suggests that landscapes are just as much projections of inner subjectivity as they are places of confrontation, territories overrun by violence and appropriation, ground on which to leave an imprint. Whether we roam nature, walk through shopping centres, or wander around virtual worlds produced by the digital industry, we are given an incalculable number of interweaved cultural forms, codes and stories to glimpse.
For this exhibition, Hidaka and Zarka consider the gallery as a site of intellectual reflection where ideas and thoughts are distilled. Inspired by the original architecture of the Koffler Gallery space – the repurposed library of a former elementary school – the artists’ vision for the project derives from their awareness of a concealed archway and proscenium now hidden by the renovations. These buried vestiges of previous use, as well as a sustained interest in the visual and symbolic significance of curvatures, arches and arcades, drives the development of a site specific installation that positions the gallery as a space for observation and reflection. Hidaka’s mural paintings will surround the viewer creating the illusion of endless space beyond the physical limits of the gallery, while Zarka’s sculptures will offer grounding objects of contemplation.
Image at top: Christian Hidaka & Raphaël Zarka, Exhibition view of La Famille Schoenflies at Les Instants Chavirés, Montreuil (FR), 2016. Courtesy the artists and Michel Rein, Paris/Brussels. Photo: Aurélien Mole.