introduction by rachel farquharson
It is with pleasure that O'Born Contemporary celebrates Memorial Day, a new body of work by artist John Monteith.
Two conversant series, one painted and the other photographed, comprise the exhibition and synthesize the artist's most ambitious effort to date. A thread apparent in Monteith's practice from its inception, the intrusion into the interstices of elusive facts of being is now pulled taut.
As a species, our memories come to bear on us through relationships with not only people, but the enormous, stony spaces through which we pass in both our daily urban and more transient, exploratory lives. We reverberate with histories and politics that do not necessarily belong to us, though it takes an artist of Monteith's caliber to parse this sensation out. Memorial Day spans the materiality of photography and painting while addressing real attendant anxieties. The works on display witness a redefinition of the photograph, convincing us that the same name can be given to a work that hasn't actually been created by the exposure of photographic paper to light or with digital code. The physicality and ultimate accessibility of Memorial Day is seductive.
Whether it is the playful games the painted forms perform in front of our eyes or the visceral photographs that send a rush up our spines as we look at them, Monteith's most recent work demonstrates his mastery of material and the relevance of his practice.
about the exhibition
Divided into two collusive sub-sections Memorial Day is a series of neo-formalist abstractions in oil on layered drafting film and a group of composite photographs each built from one hundred unique yet identical images taken over a span of time.
Representing urban space, architecture and institution, Monteith constructs his paintings and photographs from fragmented images. These works suggest a spatial fluidity, contingent and subjective. Installed in a theatrical mise-en-scene the disparate works in Memorial Day reframe their architectural subjects as atmospheric, fluid representations of the places we traverse and inhabit, residing with the memories we construct around these shifting and contingently temporal spaces.
about the artist
John Monteith was born in 1973 in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada and graduated in 2008 from the MFA program at Parsons the New School for Design. Monteith's work has been represented internationally in a number of solo and group exhibitions including K-48 "Kontinuum," No Soul For Sale at both the Tate Modern, London and X Initiative, New York, and The New York Art Book Fair at PS 1.
Additional projects include "Living Room" commissioned by Flux Factory in collaboration with openhousenewyork, and "River's Edge", a site-specific installation for the DUMBO Art Under The Bridge Festival. His most recent solo exhibition, Lost Highway, was exhibited at O'Born Contemporary in December 2010.
In 2011 Monteith was the resident artist at CAT Cologne, in Cologne, Germany and will be participating in an Artists Residency with The School of Critical Engagement in Beijing, China this coming May 2013.
Monteith's work is featured in a number of international private and corporate collections including the TD Bank Canada, and The New School in New York. His press and publications include Charley, C Magazine, www.artinamericamagazine.com, October, The Huffington Post, K-48, Petit Mort: Recollections of a Queer Public, The New Yorker, www.disorientations.com, British Good Housekeeping and Toronto Life.
Monteith has been awarded grants from The Canada Council for the Arts and the Toronto Arts Council. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.