Curated by Katie Addleman, Modulators brings together five emerging and established artists, Hélène Cenedese, Amanda Reeves, Esther Simmonds-MacAdam, Sally Späth, and Carol Wainio, to explore the limited palette — and the breadth of its applications — in new contemporary painting.
Associated historically with styles from Whistlerian Tonalism to Minimalism, the limited palette is, in the work exhibited here, turned to equally broad and distinctive ends: in Dangling, by Carol Wainio, figures familiar from antique illustrations populate a dusky picture plane, while Späth’s glowing strips of interfacing recall nothing so much as the painted line. Between these poles of figuration and abstraction, stark brilliance and mottled shade, is Simmonds-MacAdam’s Did I Hold You? Or Did You Hold Me?, where body and expression are only proposals, brought forward by attenuated corals and blues; the layered grey-scale Trace paintings of Cenedese, evocative of the artist’s interest in reducing natural forms to gesture; and Reeves’ Untitled 06, whose meditative qualities belie tight control over composition and colouration.
Rather than demonstrating a fear or rejection of colour, this work, while decidedly monochromatic in effect, boldly foregrounds it; in its subtlety or simplicity it becomes as much subject as descriptor. These artists move carefully between tones, navigating dense but restricted corners of the colour spectrum to produce work at once quiet and shocking, reminders that visual power need not lie with vibrancy. Taken together, the paintings in Modulators suggest that the restricted use of colour does little to allay its expressive possibilities.
The painter, printmaker, and draughtswoman Hélène Cenedese lives and works in Montreal. She obtained her BFA from Concordia University in 2007. In 2010, she won the “Prix Découverte” at the Festival International de Montréal sur l’Art (FIMA), and two years later the festival’s grand prize. She exhibits regularly in Montreal, where Galerie D produced her first solo show in 2010. Cenedese is represented in Toronto by Parts Gallery.
The San Francisco-based painter Amanda Reeves has participated in numerous exhibitions since graduating from OCADU in 2005; her next, the solo show New Paintings, will open at Elissa Cristall Gallery in Vancouver in June 2013. A finalist in the RBC painting competition, her work is included in the collections of Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Montreal, among others. She is represented by p|m Gallery in Toronto.
Based in Toronto, Esther Simmonds-MacAdam holds an MA in Sociology and Equity Studies from the University of Toronto and studied Painting and Women’s Studies at Concordia University. Following solo exhibitions in Toronto, Ottawa, and Kitchener, she completed an artist’s residency at The Banff Centre in 2012. Her practice has been supported by grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Experimental artist Sally Späth is interested in painting as a material and an activity; often site-specific, her work seeks to connect the creation and place of painting to the paintings themselves. It has been included in seminal Canadian group shows including Painting Disorders (1994) and 60 Painters (2012), as well as in solo shows in commercial and public galleries in Toronto and Vancouver, and has been supported by grants and awards from the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts, among others. Späth lives and works in Toronto.
Carol Wainio has exhibited widely in Canada and internationally, including at the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, the Venice Biennale, and the Galleria Comunale d’Arte Moderna in Bologna, and her work is held by major public, corporate, and private collections. She is represented by Galerie René Blouin in Montréal, Trépanier Baer Gallery in Calgary, and Paul Petro in Toronto. Wainio lives in Ottawa.