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Current & Upcoming Exhibitions

October 4, 2008 7pm to 7am

El Museo del Jardín de la Humanidad/ The Museum of the Garden of Humanity Paintings by Vivian Reiss

The Gardiner Museum

111 Queen's Park, Toronto

"La Sirena, Irma" oil on canvas, 42x54 inches, oil on canvas by Vivian Reiss

El Museo del Jardín de la Humanidad is a show of portraits of immigrant Mexican farm workers who plant and harvest in Southern Ontario's farms and nurseries, along with paintings of Reiss' farm garden in Toronto.

2 years ago Reiss created Satoyama Storehouse a series of portraits of the inhabitants of a tiny rice farming village in Japan. In creating these portraits, Reiss lived amongst the community and compiled a living museum of people whose way of life is changing rapidly.

"Juan" oil on canvas, 42x54 inches, oil on canvas by Vivian Reiss

The Museum of the Garden of Humanity is a heartfelt project in which Reiss created intimate portraits of the often anonymous migrant farm workers who travel from Mexico to sow, tend and harvest agricultural fields in Canada. The artworks illuminate the connection between human endeavour and the land on which we depend

Reiss displays 6 portraits of Mexican men and women who travel to Canada for 8 months of the year as agricultural workers. Through the portraits we are offered a compelling and intimate artistic engagement with these individuals, our connection to the land we live on, the food we eat, and greater North America's social, cultural and economic structures.

"Victor" oil on canvas, 42x54 inches, oil on canvas by Vivian Reiss

Alongside these works are numerous large-scale paintings of Reiss' own garden, a true urban farm right in downtown Toronto.

"Hilda Luna" oil on canvas, 42x54 inches, oil on canvas by Vivian Reiss

Reiss' garden is a sight to behold, an artistic treasure sporting 60 edible varieties,14 foot high stalks of corn and 4 foot diameter taro leaves. Passers by, constantly caught of guard by the sight, experience this garden by literally immersing themselves in it: because it's on street side, the municipal sidewalk literally walks through it.

"Macario" oil on canvas, 42x54 inches, oil on canvas by Vivian Reiss

The paintings of the garden feel nearly larger than life sized, surrounding the viewer with their verdant excitement and nourishing colours. Mammoth leaves shelter and protect the viewer from multiple angles and orange zinnias thrust themselves wildly towards you. It is akin to the effect of the Clifford Still room at the Albright Knox museum, where Still's oversized abstract expressionist paintings move the viewer on an emotional journey from all sides.

The garden- so overwhelmingly alive, as are Reiss' paintings- becomes a background for a complex formal journey, and an inspiration for man's connection to nature, both wild and cultivated.

This exhibition has the support of The Consulate General of Mexico in Toronto.

Starting October 1 2008 to December 30 2008

The Endless Day in to Night

At the V Reiss Gallery, 500 College St Toronto.
Regular hours Saturday 12-6pm or by appointment call 416-836-4575

In Conjunction with Scotiabank's Nuit Blanche

begins October 4 2008 at 7PM all night until October 5th, 7AM

see the listing on the Nuite Blanche website

Art work from Couting Sheep oil on canvas, 35x42 inches, oil on canvas by Vivian Reiss

Art work from Couting Sheep oil on canvas, 35x42 inches, oil on canvas by Vivian Reiss

Counting Sheep, Vivian Reiss

The Endless Day into Night

We usually perceive night as black, and day as white. What happens when we see night as white?

What do we perceive when we are awake during the hours in which we normally dream?

In Vivian Reiss’ “Endless Day into Night”, the artist delights in bringing the experience of night out of the dark.

The exhibition has a dream-like quality, and explores things that come out in the night, like the toys on your bedroom floor that come to life when the lights go out.

Art is all about the space where dreams become real, and reality becomes a forth dimension, somewhere between thoughts and images.

When Reiss develops a painting, it's first developed through form, which is either drawn on the white canvas with black charcoal, or painted on the paper with black gouache.

This black and white charcoal stage is an impermanent one, a liminal one, where the brush of a hand can erase the entire work, leaving only a faint trace behind, like a dream that was so real until woken up from and forgotten.

The exhibition presents a series of paintings of moon flowers, black and white gouaches and toys that go bump in the night.

Counting Sheep

Reiss spent the entire summer steeped in agriculture. On one beautiful farm where she regularly took her paints, sheep are placed in old barns, at ponds, in fallow fields. To the owners, these sheep are not just sheep, they have personalities and names. They interact with humans- at least with the artist they did- some of them posed, and some nudged up against the canvas leaving painty badges of their bravery. They asked for her attention.

"Counting sheep" is something you do when you can't sleep at night: behind your closed eyes you watch sheep all engaged in the same activity, jumping through your head in an evenly spaced flat symmetrical arch.

The sheep in these paintings are more mathematically complex

In the paintings, there are a myriad of forms in a myriad of combinations. Although the canvas is flat, you see shapes in perspective, shapes in flat, shapes that seem to happen in front of the canvas, coming out at you. In this random placement of the sheep emerges a formal composition of the paintings.

Yes, your first impression is to see how many sheep there are in the painting, but in doing so you enter into the world of the painting, the interaction of the sheep with their environment- natural and man made- and the hierarchy of their social organization.