Friday, 24 February 2017

G.W. Hatt Curriculum Vitae and Bibliography


M.A., University of Toronto, (November 1985)
Major: History of Art; Area Specialization: Modern
Language Examinations: German and Italian

B.A. Hons., University of Toronto, (November 1982)
Major: History of Art

Directorial and Curatorial Experience

Executive Director, Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, Kitchener, ON (2008 - ).
Guest Curator, Portrait of a Painter, University of Toronto Art Centre, Toronto, ON, (Jan. 2010).
Guest Curator, Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, Toronto (Oct. 2008).
Director/Curator, Rodman Hall Arts Centre, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON (2004 - 07).
Curator, Cambridge Galleries, Cambridge, ON (1997 - 2004).
Programme Coordinator, Cambridge Galleries, Cambridge, ON (1988 - 1996).
Director/Curator, Durham Art Gallery, Durham, ON (1985-1988).

Teaching Experience

Instructor, Visual Arts Department, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON (2005 - 07).
Instructor, Department of Fine Arts, University of Toronto, Scarborough College (1986 - 87).
Teaching Assistant, Department of Fine Arts, University of Toronto (Semester I, 1984 - 85).


“Mary Ma: Wind Water Wave,” CAFKA.16: WHAT WE DO TOGETHER THAT WE CAN’T DO ALONE, CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, 2016,
“Jaime Angelopoulos: Swoon,” CAFKA.16: WHAT WE DO TOGETHER THAT WE CAN’T DO ALONE, CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, 2016, with files from Rex Lingwood, <>.
“Samuel Roy-Bois, The Brittle Edges of Coherence,” CAFKA.14: IT SHOULD ALWAYS BE THIS WAY, CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, 2014,, last modified 2015-10-01.
“NetherMind,” text for coming website for the NetherMind collective, 2014.
“Joe Lima: Heaven and Earth,” Joe Lima: Singularity, (Galerie Nicholas Robert, Montreal: 2013).
“NetherMind,” Mirabilia, St. Annes's Church, NetherMind: Toronto, October 4 – 20, 2012
“BGL: Fancy Fences,” CAFKA.11: SURVIVE. RESIST, CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, 2012,, last modified 2014-02-01.
“Lauren Hall: Their Starry Domes of Diamond and Gold Expand Above,” CAFKA.11: SURVIVE. RESIST, CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, 2012,, last modified 2013-01-16.
“Mary Catherine Newcomb: Souvenir,” CAFKA.11: SURVIVE. RESIST, CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, 2012,, last modified 2013-01-16.
“Forum placed provocative art in our public spaces,” Waterloo Region Record, Oct 13, 2011.
“Truth or Dare,” Veracity, (Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, Kitchener: 2011). Also available on-line as “CAFKA.09: Truth or Dare,” at, last modified last modified 2014-08-14.
“Chicago sets the standard for public art,” Waterloo Region Record, May 27, 2011.
“Portrait of a Patron,” Portrait of a Patron: The Dukszta Collection, (University of Toronto Art Centre, Toronto: 2010).
“A Family Tree,” Torontonienesis, (Torontonienesis, Toronto: 2009).
“David Spriggs: The Architecture of Illusion,” in David Spriggs: The Archaeology of Space, (Southern Alberta Art Gallery/Rodman Hall Arts Centre, Lethbridge/St. Catharines: 2008).
“Plastic Shit: Katharine Harvey’s Recent Installation Work,” originally written for Locus Suspectus, Spring 2008, published as:
“Marla Hlady: Playing Piano,” YYZINE, January 2008.
“Fool for Love,” Susan Bozic: The Dating Portfolio, (Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Simon Fraser University Art Gallery, Rodman Hall Arts Centre: Lethbridge, Vancouver, St. Catharines, 2007).
“Max Streicher's Inflatables,” (Unpublished manuscript for Artcore, Toronto, 2005).
“Ed Pien: A Soft and Gentle Darkness,” Ed Pien: In a Realm of Others, (Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Robert McLaughlin Art Gallery, Cambridge Galleries: Lethbridge, Oshawa, Cambridge, 2005).                                      
Anitra Hamilton: Bomb Ride, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 2005).
“Paulette Phillips: The Secret Life of Criminals,” Paulette Phillips, (Oakville Galleries/Cambridge Galleries: Oakville & Cambridge, 2004).
“The Dream of Painting and Angela Leach's Thirty-Two Colours,” Angela Leach: Shimmy, (Southern Alberta Art Gallery: Lethbridge, 2004)
“The Art of Gardening,” Cambridge Sculpture Garden, (Cambridge Sculpture Garden: Cambridge, ON, 2003).
Interior Life: Paintings and Prints by Moira Clark, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 2003).
“Introduction,” Catherine Heard: Effigies, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 2003).
“Learning to Talk,” introduction to the catalogue, Tim Zuck: Learning to Talk, (Museum London: London, ON, 2002).
Let's Get Lost: The Summer Vacation Show, web text, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON,  2002).
“Who Means What / Brent Roe / Paintings / 1992-2001,” Agnes Etheringon Art Centre, 5 January - 28 April 2002, Exhibition review, Border Crossings, Summer, 2002.
Tom Bendtsen: Argument #6 (b), “Interview with the artist,” (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 2002).
Dan Kennedy: Shack of Deals, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 2002).
“Big in Japan,” Big in Japan: Takahiro Fujiwara, Hiroyuki Matsukage, Yuki Kimura, Tsuyoshi Ozawa, Risa Sato and Saki Satom, curated by Catherine Osborne, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 2002).
“Toggle Wand: Betsy Coulter and Christy Thompson,” Mercer Union, (Mercer Union: Toronto, 2001).
“Arnaud Maggs, Les factures de Lupé, Susan Hobbs Gallery, April 19 - May 26, 2001,” Shot Gun Reviews, Lola, vol. 10, Fall 2001.
“At Some Level, I’m Just Trying To Do Ordinary Things,” catalogue introduction, Daniel Olson: Small World, (Cambridge Galleries, Owens Art Gallery, Southern Alberta Art Gallery: Cambridge, Lethbridge & Sackville, 2000).
“Mike Hansen’s Minimalism: Melts in your mouth, not in your hand,” Mike Hansen: Structures, (Art Gallery of Peel: Brampton, 2000).
Lisa Neighbour: Illuminations, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 2000).
“Introduction,” Larry Towell: Palestine, El Salvador & Home, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1999).
Andrew Wright: The Plausible Impossibility of the Here & Now (Moving Picture), (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1999).
Anette Larsson: Pleasure Vision, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1999).
Oh Baby!, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1999).
The nature of the machine: Jeff Mann, Michael O'Brien, Victoria Scott, Norman White, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1999).
“Mary Catherine Newcomb: A Surrealist in Kitchener,” Lola, vol. 4, Spring 1999.
“John Armstrong: Affirmative Paintings,” John Armstrong: Sanguine, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1999).
Sheila Gregory: Flip!, interview with the artist, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1998).
“Re: Work Re: Work,” Work Re: Work: Installations, Interventions, Performances, (Install Art Collective: Guelph/Toronto, 1998).
“Blue in Green: Regan Morris's MOAT," Lola, vol. 3, Fall 1998.
“This flesh . . .” Max Streicher: Sleeping Giants, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1999).
“Brent Roe's Autodogmatic, Antitranscendent Trip,” Brent Roe: Autodogmatic Trip, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1998).
“You have got to make it your own . . .” interview with the artist, Michael Earle: Sea Change, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1997).
Michael Wickerson: Mill Gears, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1997).
J. Lynn Campbell: Offering, interview with the artist, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1997).
“Carlo Cesta: Modern Romance,” C Magazine, #51, October-December 1996, pp. 17-19.
Gordon Laird: In Walden's Wake, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1996).
Mary Catherine Newcomb: Corpus Delicti, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1995).
“Guelph: The City That Works,” Niche: Installations, Interventions, Performances, (Install Art Collective: Guelph/Toronto, 1995).
Italica: “alla maniera italiana”: Sara Angelucci, Dino Bolognone, Jane Buyers, Carlo Cesta and Julie Voyce, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1995).
Lisa Neighbour: Eye on the Square, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1994).
Tom Burrows: Drawn Objects and Blanket Statements, (Canadian Embassy: Tokyo, 1994).
“Seven Veils & Other Tales: Prints and Sculpture by Robert Achtemichuk,” Extension: A Quarterly Journal Published by the Print and Drawing Council of Canada, Vol. 3, No. 2, Winter 1993.
William Kurelek, 1929 - 1977, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1993).
Private Space, Public Place: Robert Achtemichuk, Bianca D'Angelo, Lisa Fedak, Mary Firth, Renata Fitzgerald, Dave Gee, Michael Horner, Brian Johnston, Jack MacAulay, Harvey Meyer, Mary O'Brien, Rick Shrubsall, Mark Stratton, Roger Young, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1993).
Art Green: Doors of Perception, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1991).
Carlo Cesta: The Material Image, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1991).
John Hartman: Recent Paintings, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1990).
“Introduction,” Tom Burrows: Dialectical Totems, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1990).
Additive Sculpture: Shirley Yanover and Peter Dykhuis, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1989).
Carla Whiteside: The First Book of Creation, (Cambridge Galleries: Cambridge, ON, 1989).

Public Address

Ars longa, vita brevis, presented at the unveiling of Carol Bradley's sculptural relief Pool, Kitchener, ON, August 26, 2003.

Curatorial Projects (Freelance curating and thematic group exhibitions)

Modular Nature: Sandor Ajzenstat, David Armstrong-Six, Eric Glavin, Ernest Harris Jr., Gunilla Josephson, Kristiina Lahde, Gareth Lichty, Andreas Rutkauskas, Art Gallery of Mississauga, October 30 - December 5, 2008.

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, "Zone A: The New World," with Project Blinkenlights, Fujiwara Takahiro, BGL, Daniel Olson, John Armstrong & Paul Collins, Jillian McDonald, Luis Jacob, Tom Bendtsen, Adam David Brown, Katharine Harvey, October 4, 2008.

Objects of Affection: Susan Bozic, Meesoo Lee, Maria Legault, Jillian McDonald, Tanya Read, Warren Quigley, Rodman Hall Arts Centre, St. Catharines, October 5 - December 2, 2007.

Hic: 18 Installations and Interventions, Hart House, University of Toronto, featuring work by BGL (Jasmin Bilodeau, Sebastien Giguère and Nicolas Laverdière), Tom Bendtsen, Diane Borsato, Carlo Cesta, John Dickson, Lee Goreas, Catherine Heard, Kristiina Lahde, Jennifer McMackon, Lisa Neighbour, Fabrizio Perozzi, Kristen Peterson, Ed Pien, Lyla Rye, Susan Schelle, Brian Scott, Max Streicher and Mel Ziegler.  Member of the curatorial collective with Carlo Cesta, John Dickson, Catherine Heard, Lisa Neighbour, Lyla Rye and Max Streicher, March 2 - April 16, 2006.

That Obscure Object of Desire: A Group Exhibition of Visions of Delight, Fascination and Desire, Cambridge Galleries, Cambridge, ON, featuring work by Jane Adeney, Sara Angelucci, John Armstrong, Santo Barbieri, Dianne Bos, Gabrielle de Montmollin, Phil Delisle, Evergon, Lee Goreas, Catherine Heard, Clarissa Inglis, Amelia Jimenez, Dan Kennedy, Anda Kubis, Kristiina Lahde, Bonnie Lewis, Joe Lima, Jennifer Linton, Gwen McGregor, Michael Morris, Lisa Neighbour, Reinhard Reitzenstein, Kris Rosar, Mona Shahid, Joanna Strong, Diana Thorneycroft, Philip Vanderwall and Rhonda Weppler, July 9 - August 14, 2004.

Video Heroes: Music Video by Artists, Liane and Danny Taran Gallery of the Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts, November 20, 2003 to January 11, 2004; Cambridge Galleries,  January 24 - March 07, 2004,  featuring work by David Armstrong Six, Tyler Brett, Nikki Forrest, Skawennati Tricia Fragnito, Meesoo Lee, Tim Lee, March21 (Jeremy Shaw), Kelly Mark, Anne McGuire, Tricia Middleton & Joel Taylor, Monique Moumblow & Yudi Sewraj, Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, Daniel Olson, Rob Ring, Kevin Schmidt and Althea Thauberger. Curated in collaboration with Sylvie Gilbert.

Let's Get Lost: The Summer Vacation Show, Cambridge Galleries, Cambridge, ON, featuring work by John Armstrong, Karma Clarke-Davis, Jason Dunda, Dave Dyment, Katharine Harvey, Alexander Irving, Mara Korkola, Stacey Lancaster, Dionne McAffee, Wendy Morgan, Jan Noestheden, Daniel Olson and Kate Wilson, July 5 - August 24, 2002.

December, Cambridge Galleries, Cambridge, ON, featuring work by Sara Angelucci, Janet Bellotto, Robin Hesse, Ron Hewson, Tania Kitchell, Thérèse Mastroiacovo, Laura Millard, Janet Morton, Isabella Stefanescu, Joanna Strong, Larry Towell, and Aidan Urquhart, December 1 - January 12, 2002.

Big in Japan: Takahiro Fujiwara, Hiroyuki Matsukage, Yuki Kimura, Tsuyoshi Ozawa, Risa Sato and Saki Satom, curated by Catherine Osborne, Cambridge Galleries, Cambridge, ON, October 13 - November 18, 2001, travelled to the Liane and Danny Taran Gallery, Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts, Montreal, and to the Gendai Gallery, Japanese-Canadian Cultural Centre, Toronto.

Oh Baby!, Cambridge Galleries, Cambridge, ON, featuring baby pictures by Lorène Bourgeois, Margaret Belisle, Sheila Butler, Clair Cafaro, Cathy Daley, Sybil Goldstein, Ron Hewson, Tom Dean, April Hickox, Rae Johnson, Gordon Laird, Judy Major-Girardin, Sally McKay, Mary Catherine Newcomb, Aidan Urquhart & Julie Voyce, July 9 - August 7, 1999.

Juries, Advisory Committees

Grants Committee Member, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, 2016 -.
Juror, ION Public Art Jury, Region of Waterloo, 2016.
Steering Committee Member, FLASH Contemporary Photography Here, 2014 - .
Advisor, Engage! KW, Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation, 2012 - 14.
Committee Member, Art and Art History Program Advisory Committee, Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, 2010 - .
Juror, Region of Waterloo Public Health and Social Services Building Commission, April/June 2009.
Outside Examiner, University of Waterloo MFA Thesis Defence, May 2009.
Chair, Public Art Working Group, City of Kitchener, 2008 - 2011.
Board Member, Ontario Association of Art Galleries, 2006 - 2011.
Arts Community Representative, Public Art Advisory Committee, Regional Municipality of Waterloo, 2002-2004.
Juror, Cambridge Sculpture Garden, 2002.
Board Member, Waterloo Regional Arts Council, 2000-2001.
Juror, Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant Annual Juried Exhibition, 1998.
Juror, City of Kitchener Victoria Park Public Art Commission, 1995/96.
Committee Member, City of Kitchener Public Art Advisory Committee, 1995-96.
Juror, Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery Juried Exhibition, 1995.
Juror, Burlington Cultural Centre Juried Exhibition, 1992.
Committee Member, Acquisitions Committee, Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, Owen Sound, ON, 1987-88.
Advisor, Ontario Arts Council:
1998, Special Projects
1990, Special Projects
1988, Artist in Residence Projects
1987, Public Galleries Application for Assistance
1986, Public Galleries Application for Assistance

Panels and Colloquia  

Moderator, “Will You Paint Me?” panel discussion with artists Rae Johnson, Michael Merrill and Phil Richards for the exhibition Portrait of a Patron: The Dukszta Collection, University of Toronto Art Centre, January 19, 2010.
Panel Discussion Moderator, Passing Through: Iain Baxter& Photographs, 1958-1983, with exhibition curator James Patten, Derek Knight and Iain Baxter&, Rodman Hall Art Centre, Friday, March 2, 2007.

Colloquium Moderator, Is Drawing Dead?, with John Armstrong, Lucy Hogg and Lisa Steele,  University of Toronto Art Centre, Toronto, ON, October 24, 2002.

Panellist, Hungry Eyes: Issues in Contemporary Abstract Painting, with Monica Tap, Elizabeth MacIntosh and Dan Walsh, Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax, NS, October 18, 2002.

Colloquium moderator, Daniel Olson: Small World, with Martin Arnold, Daniel Olson and Christina Ritchie, Cambridge Galleries, Camrbidge, ON, January 12, 2001.

Panellist, Art Works! Round Table: "What Public? Whose Art? Current Issues in Public Art," Kitchener City Hall, Kitchener, ON, September 12, 2000.
Panellist, Visual Arts Ontario Professional Development Seminar, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, February 5, 1999.

Colloquium Moderator, John Armstrong: Sanguine, with John Armstrong, Gary Michael Dault and Lisa Gabrielle Mark, Cambridge Galleries, January 8, 1999.

Thursday, 29 December 2016


NetherMind is an artist collective that organized four annual exhibitions in Toronto from 1991 through 1995. The collective’s members shared an interest in sculptural approaches to surrealism and produced sprawling exhibitions in rough, dark warehouses and industrial spaces. Following their fourth exhibition in 1995, the collective took a 17-year hiatus and pursued individual exhibition careers. They re-emerged in October 2012 with an exhibition that took place in St. Anne’s Anglican Church in Toronto. Today the collective is comprised of the artists Tom Dean, John Dickson, Catherine Heard, Greg Hefford, Mary Catherine Newcomb, Reinhard Reitzenstein, Lyla Rye, and Max Streicher. Other artists also associated with NetherMind in the nineties were Miki McCarty, Carl Skelton, Anastasia Tzekas, and Manrico Venere.

The term “artist collective” sometimes refers to two or more artists working together to produce and exhibit a body of work. Of that type of artist collective, the N.E. Thing Company may be the original Canadian manifestation, and General Idea the most notable over the last 50 years. The NetherMind collective model refers quite simply to a group of artists who come together to “put on a show.” The ChromaZone group of painters active in Toronto in the 1980s is perhaps the best-known Canadian art collective of this type.[1] Money is raised, a suitable exhibition space is acquired, and each artist contributes work to the exhibition.

Gary Michael Dault noted the proliferation of this latter type of artist collective in Canada in the 1990s was a product of the period’s economic and cultural context.[2] Just as the great post-war expansion of university and visual art education had begun to produce new artists in record numbers, the Canadian economy entered its second major contraction in a decade. The small and shrinking trade in Canadian fine art had neither the capacity to absorb the production of this new generation of artists nor the ability to represent installation, new media and time-based art forms. The educational sector, traditionally an important support structure for the art community, had stopped growing. Victims of a boom and bust economy, artists with graduate degrees took on odd jobs – a career path more exceptional at the time, but which today has become a commonly accepted career path for MFA grads.

Against the backdrop of today’s massive redevelopment of Toronto’s downtown, it’s hard to picture the community 25 years ago. The garment industry’s move out of lower Spadina in the seventies (the parts of the city now called the Fashion and the Entertainment districts), manufacturing’s exit from Liberty Village in the eighties, and Parkdale’s post-war economic decline created inexpensive working class neighbourhoods and decaying commercial districts with large chunks of cheap industrial space.[3] [4] Warehouse spaces were converted into clubs, lofts, live/work arrangements, galleries and studios supporting a low-rent economy of both established and emerging artists, musicians and people just wanting to be part of the alternative downtown community. It was a distinct sub-culture, supporting a mythic narrative of urban pioneering and social belonging, and defining itself in opposition to the dominant Canadian mass culture.

The process was of course not unique to Toronto. An artistic and urban counter-cultural movement of squatting in vacant buildings took root across the UK and Western Europe in the sixties. Galleries in converted storefronts, warehouse spaces, and factory lofts, began to emerge in London and New York.[5] These new alternative exhibition spaces addressed two issues: They were a creative response to economic and cultural exclusion from institutionalized spaces and they were part of the emergence of minimalist, conceptualist and performance-based art – a reaction against the neutrality of the “white cube” gallery space.[6] The “white cube,” the clinically white painted four walls of the gallery space was however, still the dominant paradigm for exhibitions, and through much of the eighties, the first thing the new artist tenants did was to put up drywall and paint it white.

Painters typically wanted as little visual activity as possible in the surrounding environment to suppress possible distractions from the surfaces of their work. But sculpture is inherently more engaged in the surrounding space and framing a three-dimensional work against a white wall only works from a single point of view.[7] Limited ambient lighting and focused spots, after all, may be all that is needed to bring sculpture into dramatic relief. Initial discussions among the NetherMind artists focused on the treatment of the rough industrial space and what degree of preparation it might need. The question of whether the floor should be swept or left as it was engaged the idea of the space as a found object in the exhibition.

The character of the “found object space” and the low-level ambient light became it’s own event in the NetherMind exhibitions of the early 90s. It contrasted sharply with the dominant modernist showroom aesthetic characteristic of the department store and the futurist, antiseptic minimalism associated with science fiction set decoration in films like THX 1138.[8] The dominant contemporary architectural aesthetic of the recently constructed art schools that many of the artists had attended as students, featuring glass walls and studios bathed in sunlight, was nowhere to be found in the NetherMind exhibitions.[9]

The darkened exhibition space may have reflected another characteristic of the time – the profound pessimism and communal despair that accompanied the ongoing crisis of the AIDS epidemic. The documentation of death had become a recurrent subject in the contemporary art of the early 90s, prompting Adam Gopnik, writing about the 1993 Venice Biennale, to identify this work as part of a new “Morbid Manner,” in tune with what he saw as an obsession with “the display of images of death, decay, and violence,” a tendency he attributed to the influence of the work of Bruce Nauman:

The immediate model for almost all the grimmest work – for the macabre fragment, the tortured videos, the cryptic neon signs, even the simple idea of assembling a lot of morbid bits and pieces in a darkened room – is the art of the American Bruce Nauman . . . It is Nauman’s moodthe sense of building memorials-in-advance to an apocalypse whose causes are ill defined but whose inevitability is grimly certain that dominates the exhibition.[10]

These influences certainly exist, but it would be wrong to suggest the NetherMind exhibitions were a downer. They weren’t. If the exhibitions existed against the background of social and economic crisis, the installations by contrast communicated energy and vitality. The NetherMind collective emerged at a time when the prospects for individual artists were few and the institutions of contemporary art were being assaulted on all sides. As for many Canadian artists in the 90s, banding together in a collective made sense as a mechanism of survival. But more than that, the NetherMind members deftly negotiated a middle space for the collaboration of emerging and established artists, and for collective action and individual art practice. The collective produced a series of exhibitions that had a distinctly “NetherMind” feel, style and energy that did not describe a grimly certain apocalypse, but an alternative way of making and exhibiting art. Where Gopnik saw a sterile Mannerist, fin-de-siècle end game at work, NetherMind and similar artist collectives in Canada were exploring alternative spaces, extending the possible resonances in their work and initiating new conversations within the community they called home.[11]

[1] Andy Fabo, Sybil Goldstein, “ChromaZone / Chromatique: A Brief History 1981-1986,” November 2009, CCCA Canadian Art Database:

[2] “Toronto artists, brought into contact through university friendships and certain congruencies of sensibility, began to band together into groups: groups in search of their own funding, their own exhibition spaces, their own promotion, their own curating, their own documentation. Untethered, as Fabo puts it, to real estate, which none of them could have afforded anyhow, these new collectives set about exploring the city for suitable sites to bend to their temporary purposes: vacant warehouse spaces, ghostly abandoned industrial basements, empty storefronts (the advertisements for recession), rooftops, hallways, the walls of the pubs where they drank beer and doodled their next procedural moves on wet cocktail napkins.” Gary Michael Dault, “Amid the rubble of the recession, a new generation of inner-city Toronto artists is blooming,” Canadian Art, Vol. 11 #4, December 1994.

[3] During the late 1970s and early 1980s, manufacturing operations within Liberty Village began to decline due to a shift from rail to road shipping, the need for larger manufacturing facilities, and lower manufacturing costs in suburban or offshore locations. In 1990, the Toronto Carpet Manufacturing plant on Liberty Street shut down, and the Inglis plant (owned by Whirlpool since 1985) ceased operations in 1991. The Inglis factory and Massey-Harris factory (with the exception of 947 King St. West) were demolished. Decreased industrial activity and lower property values caused many Liberty Village buildings to fall into neglect.

[4] Tom Slater, Toronto’s South Parkdale Neighbourhood A Brief History of Development, Disinvestment, and Gentrification, UrbanStudies, University of Bristol, U.K., Excerpted, condensed, and updated from an article in The Canadian Geographer, Fall 2004, titled “Municipally Managed Gentrification in South Parkdale, Toronto.”’Slater-Parkd.pdf

[5] See Sandy Nairne, “The Institutionalization of Dissent,” pp. 387 -410, Thinking About Exhibitions, eds. Reesa Greenberg, Bruce W. Ferguson, Sandy Nairne, Routledge: New York, 1996.

[6] Brian Doherty analyzed the politics of representation with the white space in Inside the White Cube - The Ideology of the Gallery Space, The Lapis Press: Santa Monica/San Francisco, 1976.

[7] Formalist aesthetics in the sixties had argued for the expansion of the field of art from the surface of objects to include the surrounding space. See Grégoire Mueller, The New Avant-Garde, New York: Praeger, 1972, and Rosalind Krauss, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” October, Vol. 8. (Spring, 1979), pp. 30-44.

[8] THX 1138 (1971), Dir. George Lucas, 86 min., (USA).

[9] The new architecture of art schools emphasized the brightly lit white cube. See Raymond Moriyama’s airy glass, brick and concrete York University Fine Arts Phase II building in suburban Toronto built in 1973 and the Glyde Hall studios at the Banff Centre, 1976.

[10] Adam Gopnik, “Death in Venice,” New Yorker, 2 Aug. 1993, pp. 67-73.

[11] An early example of exhibitions in alternative spaces in Canada would include the Embassy Cultural House in in London, Ontario. See Christopher Régimbal, “Institutions of Regionalism: Artist Collectivism in London, Ontario, 1960–1990,” ArcPost Online Space for Artist-Run Culture, <> and Christopher Régimbal, “A Fire at the Embassy Hotel,” FUSE Magazine, Summer 2010, 12–15. 51. <>. Other examples of intervention and site specific collective projects in the 90s include the 23rd Room collective that produced the Duke-U-Menta exhibition at the Duke of Connaught hotel in Toronto, 1994, <>; the Farrago collective’s “The House Project, a site specific exhibition,” Toronto, 1994, and Eileen Sommerman’s exhibition “In Lieu: Installations in Public Washrooms,” 1998.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Joe Lima: Heaven and Earth

I lived in the country once. There it seemed during the cold winter nights, the night skies had the ability to uncannily change, to transform themselves at once from awe-inspiring to suddenly terrifying. The night sky could invert itself; its infinite space of possibility could begin to seem an oppressive weight. The constellations and galaxies and unending darkness – those million points of light – could somehow change and begin to feel like a million nerve endings. When the cold quiet stillness of the winter nights becomes an oppressive silence, and in the summer, when the hum of the cicadas becomes a deafening roar, then for many it is time to leave, and the promise of life begins beyond the boundaries of what is known.

The recurring story of departures, of more perfect worlds left behind, of the inexorable tug of the new and the unknown, and of a longing for home, is as old as the story of the Garden of Eden. The movement and change in our lives distracts us and entertains us but also leaves us with a sense that our lives are provisional, improvised and lacking in connection and rootedness. This dysphoria may be a characteristic of the modernist age, where rootlessness and dislocation are a common condition.

Joe Lima’s work is informed by the anxiety of dislocation. He speaks of his desire to articulate in a traditional method a contemporary experience of the world – a “contemporary uneasiness.” His characteristic images of isolated figures in great spaces remind me of the morphology of night skies, whose vast emptiness often turns to a spectre of impending suffocation.

The Azores has been a place of departures for centuries. It is the place of origin for a diaspora of emigrants to Canada, the United States and Brazil. For Lima, born on the island of São Miguel, but raised in the southwestern Ontario community of Woodstock, the Azores was a magical place, the source of his mother’s stories both folkloric and true. His mother’s stories made a great impression on him. As a painter and graphic artist, Lima took over the role of storyteller from his mother. His frescos, oil paintings and woodcuts, are influenced by her stories and his series of fresco portraits are based on characters from the Azores. His work today continues to draw on those characters from religious parades and festivals.

Lima’s process of art making begins with his collection of photographic and video images. From these images he creates collages, which then begins a process of distancing and abstracting. First he photographs the collages and then draws the rephotographed image on the wood. Separating himself further from the original image he draws only the white areas of the photographed collage. Carving out the light areas, the negative spaces, he further removes himself from the image. The drawing and the hand carving is carried in the wood block, communicating the physical process of the image’s creation. He then inks the board. There is often no printing. For Lima, the woodblock alone can be the work, permitting the viewer to share in the manual process of the image’s making. Printing for Lima can be anticlimactic.

When I imagine the Azores, I think of a cluster of small islands sprinkled amongst the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean and I imagine how the experience of the ocean enveloping the archipelago would shape my life. The heavens, when seen from the Azores, must feel like a celestial reflection – as though each verdant island was a star in the Atlantic Ocean. When I see Joe Lima’s figures, I see them living under that same celestial dome, alternatingly awe-inspiring and terrible. In these paintings and wood engravings, everyday is a titanic struggle of earth and sky.

Gordon Hatt, 2013

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

NetherMind: Tom Dean. John Dickson. Catherine Heard. Greg Hefford. Mary Catherine Newcomb. Reinhard Reitzenstein. Lyla Rye. Max Streicher.

NetherMind's four exhibitions between 1991 and 1995 took place during hard times. The economy was terrible in those years. Friends lost their jobs. Some lost their homes. Just two years after the burst of optimism that accompanied the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first Gulf War had been declared. During the winter of 1991 I watched, on my little black and white TV, the nightly images of guided missiles hitting their targets. In the southern hemisphere a hole in the ozone layer was reported to be growing ever larger. Daily there were reminders that there seemed to be no end in sight to the AIDS epidemic.

Visual Art, what I had studied, began to have no taste in my mouth. I was distracted, bored, my attention began to drift as I searched for something more emotionally resonant. Critical theory, which had at one time seemed to explain so much about art, began to explain nothing at all. For a time I was consumed by opera, its artifice being an escape from an unpleasant reality, its high emotional register and stories of tragically wasted youth beginning to make sense to me for the first time. I wanted to feel something and it did the trick.

In 1993 I saw my first NetherMind exhibition. I remember the entrance down the narrow old staircase to the basement of the Liberty Street building, the low lighting, the warren of connecting rooms and the trepidation followed by surprise around each dark corner. Today with site-specific extravaganzas like Nuit Blanche it's easy to forget how much artists and audiences used to rely on the convention of the empty white gallery space as a frame for artwork. When one stepped across the threshold into the white space, one's senses became heightened and the entire visible field was understood as meaningful. But the “white cubes” also began to signify sterility, preciousness and a predictable convention. NetherMind made no effort to emulate the cube or “tart up” the rough, warehouse basement with a coat of paint. They embraced the gloom.

Some would call it making a virtue out of a necessity, and it was that too. Nobody was opening a new commercial gallery in Toronto in those days and the major contemporary art galleries – Isaacs, Carmen Lamanna and S.L. Simpson – galleries that had historically supported new art in Toronto, were closing or thinking about it. For artists relatively fresh out of school it was pretty much a question of do-it-yourself: form an artists' collective, rent a space, install a show and print the invitations.

Canadian art of the 1990s was dominated by artist collectives. Artists gathered into groups loosely defined by the art schools they had attended or their perceived shared interests. In 1990 Lyla Rye and John Dickson, both recent graduates of the York University Fine Art program, began to talk about forming a collective. Among those that they invited to participate was fellow York alumnus Max (Larry) Streicher. They invited Tom Dean and Reinhard Reitzenstein, established artists, who been active and exhibiting work since the 1970s. Other core members of the 1989/90 graduating cohort were Greg Hefford (joined 1992) and Mary Catherine Newcomb (joined 1993) from York, and Catherine Heard, from the Ontario College of Art and Design (joined 1993).1

What united these artists was a sculptural sensibility that engaged the emotions. The art in NetherMind exhibitions had punch – you felt it directly, in the pit of your stomach. There developed a carnival sideshow character to the exhibitions, as though the viewers were being invited to step up and explore their own morbid curiosities, their fears, their secret delights. These exhibitions caused sensations – they were sensations. They caused me feel things and to reflect on my own reactions. What did I feel? Why did I feel this? Why did I react this way?

The NetherMind exhibitions and the subsequent careers of the members of the collective changed my expectations of what an exhibition of art could or should be. They helped me make it through a dark patch. I can't imagine Canadian art without them.

Gordon Hatt, 2012

1. Other artists exhibiting with NetherMind were Miki McCarty (1991-93), Carl Skelton (1993), Anastasia Tzekas (1991-92), Manrico Venere (1991).

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Janusz Dukszta: Portrait of a Patron

Janusz Dukszta’s home is a small one-bedroom, book and art-filled apartment on Toronto’s Park Road. The floors of the apartment are carpeted with a patchwork of haphazardly overlapping rugs that form a thickly rumpled surface underfoot. The many bookcases have been adapted to serve as the support for a complex installation of framed works of art that are variously hinged or slide mounted or simply wire-hung on a nail. Despite the sheer number of books and art work, floor length north facing windows and mirrors in the living room and dining room make the apartment feel sun-lit and bright and larger than it really is. The vibrancy of the colours and layering of the texts, both imagistic and literary, produce a mildly intoxicating effect. One’s eye is constantly tempted to dart from a colour in a painting to the bloom of a flower, from a patch of fabric on a cushion to the title on the spine of a book.

His apartment is a shrine to his life and passions. A psychiatrist by profession, a politician by vocation, and a connoisseur and a collector by compulsion, the books and art work that surround him testify to a socially engaged personality and an adventurous intellect. His art collection features little that is abstract, impressionistic or conceptual, reflecting instead his interests in people and places. Of the hundreds of works of art collected by Dukszta over the years, there are 70 group and solo portraits depicting him by himself or with family and friends. Beginning with an early conté sketch from 1953 by Olaf von Brinkenhoff, through to Goran Petkovski’s 2007 photographic documentation of his convalescent physiotherapy sessions, Dukszta commissioned some 55 portraits of himself. As a group, the commissioned portraits describe a life, from student to young professional, to middle-aged politician, to maturity. These solo and group portraits are the subject of this exhibition.

* * *

The formal portrait is associated with power and prestige and mostly, it forms our visual understanding of history’s influential people. The portraits of the men, women and children of the past are studied in their roles as princes, politicians, merchants and scholars and engaged as models of manners and self-awareness. We look to these images of our notable forbearers for evidence of a kinship to distant relatives with familiar human characteristics and their curious and exotic fashions. But in the age of democracy and electronic media, a painted portrait has come to seem something of an anachronism. A portrait painting now, rather than communicating power and authority, is more often than not commissioned on the occasion of a retirement or a leaving, to celebrate the more socially acceptable virtues of sacrifice, service, orderly transition and institutional continuity.

Photography played a role in supplanting the official portrait, and also spawned its own uniquely popular traditions of portraiture. Photography made it possible for people of average means to have wedding pictures, military portraits and even death portraits made as tokens of affection and as signifiers of family and clan relations. Few homes today are absent the requisite confirmation, graduation and formal athletic portraits that trace family ties and milestones. The photographic portrait was also the basis for a whole new industry created in the service of the identification and the tracking of individuals. Photographic portraits were early on adopted as a tool of political and social control for use in police records and passports. The methodical cataloguing of “mug shots” reducing the subject to the sum of racial characteristics and physiognomic variations, is now a humiliation experienced by everyone who wishes to obtain a driver’s license, bus pass, health insurance card or a job in a department store.

While the painted portrait was gradually ceding its official status to the photographic portrait, an avant-gardist or anti-academic portraiture began to emerge in its place. Emphasizing the thematic or formal aspects of an art work over likeness and character representation, the modern artist depicted colleagues and contemporaries not as individuals of destiny, but rather as contingent, fragile and ineffable subjects in time and space. Such portraits often held tenuous connections with natural appearances, increasingly submerging the subject beneath dense layers of surface references and abstraction. The inverse of the portrait produced in the context of a bourgeois class relationship, the modernist portrait traced a shared subjectivity between the artist and sitter.

Beyond personal vanity, sentimental attachment, functional identification or formal abstraction, portraits, whether painted, photographed or sculpted, still hold out the promise of something more. A portrait can puncture the presence of pride and appear to touch real human emotion. Portraits have the ability to reveal the light of consciousness that the viewer shares with the subject and in so doing probe the shared experience of subjectivity. Countenance and bearing, the quality of the gaze, skin colour and other marks of youth and maturity and aging speak to us about the engaged subject and the complex of passion and intellect, memory and intention, physical vigour and frailty that characterizes the human experience. 

* * *

To a certain extent, the Dukszta collection visits all of the varieties of modern portraiture. As a patron, the default position for a commission is the bourgeois or aristocratic portrait – a dominant/submissive and inherently unequal relationship where the artist hopes to earn money by pleasing a patron. If there are layers of conscious and unconscious motivation underlying a private portrait commission, certainly the pleasure in having someone else perform such a luxury would be one of them. Yet the commissioned portraits suggest a more complex ongoing ironic and reflective stance vis-à-vis the traditional patron/artist relationship.

An early portrait by Paul Young from 1964 called Thalidomide features Dukszta dressed in a suit and tie on a solid yellow ground. Dukszta is depicted as if both of his arms had been amputated at his shoulders. This visual amputation is underscored by his apparently awkward backward tilt, as if he had been seated on a couch during the drafting of the image, which had been later removed in the final painting. The effect of removing the arms and the supporting seat and backrest makes Dukszta appear floating, handicapped and defenseless. Clearly this is a portrait that does not flatter the subject by making him feel more powerful or important, but rather seeks to illustrate the subject’s vulnerability and fragility. 

A second portrait by Young entitled “Van Dyck” (1965) executed in the following year features Dukszta this time with all his limbs. In contrast to Young’s first painting, Dukszta is depicted as svelte, self-confident and self-conscious – his right hand casually in his pocket, the left leaning on what appears to be a plinth. The portrait consciously recalls the full-length dual portrait of John Stuart and his brother, Bernard Stuart by 17th century portraitist Anthony Van Dyck. In the Van Dyck portrait, the handsome young princes are clearly masters of their domain, proudly displaying their silk sleeves and capes with their arms prominently akimbo. The Paul Young portrait makes reference to this ostentatious display by giving Dukszta’s right arm a red and green striped sleeve. Additionally, where he rests his left elbow on the support to his left, there appears a skull, and above the skull, the head of a dark-skinned, hairless and apparently tormented soul. Above this head is a third bust – a reiteration of the original portrait drawing of Dukszta. Behind the standing Dukszta and to his left is a full-length figure in profile – a spectre of melancholy and old age.

Paul Young’s full-length portrait of the handsome young man haunted by melancholy and the awareness of death is in the tradition of the memento mori. Young had approached Dukszta as an artist in search of a stimulating subject (and sale). While making reference to the bourgeois or aristocratic portrait, the painting is the artist’s free interpretation of his subject’s character. Dukszta attempted to influence the development of the portrait but met the resistance of an artist with a strong vision. In placing the silhouette of a gun behind the head of the Dukszta, the artist declared, “Of course you are going to kill yourself one day. There is no question in my mind.” Indeed, in this portrait a role reversal is in effect where the analyst has allowed himself to be the analyzed.

It is difficult to say when Dukszta got the bug – his subsequent history of commissions is marked by the close relationships he formed with a select group of artists who responded to his intellectual curiosity and adventurousness. He made the persona, and specifically his persona, a problematic subject to be explored through successive portraits and figurative allegories and he succeeded in making it the artist’s subject as well. In the early 1970's Dukszta was introduced to Phil Richards, at that time still a student at the Ontario College of Art. Dukszta had been introduced to Richards through friends who had discovered the artist in the annual art exhibition and sale in Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. The two discovered that they shared a mutual admiration for the Italian Renaissance artist Piero della Francesca and formed a friendship that was the basis for many commissions over the next 30 years.

Richards’s first portrait of Dukszta was the drawing “Janusz as Byron” (1971). The portrait shows Dukszta with the long hair, sideburns and handlebar moustache characteristic of the early seventies. The profile pose recalls the dashing, over the cape sideways glance, characteristic of the Romantic period and especially those portraits of Lord Byron. The reference to Byron, the famous aristocrat, poet, lover and adventurer goes beyond the pose, however. That Dukszta and Richards would both see Dukszta as a dashing “homme engagé” like Byron, in the year that Dukszta is first elected to the Ontario Legislature, is not surprising. And like the feminized images of Byron, Richards gives Dukszta a coiffed and swept hair, long eye lashes and an attenuated and elongated form to focus the viewer’s attention not only on the dynamism of the personality but also on the beauty and delicacy of the features.

Richard’s portraits of the 1970s depict Dukszta in a variety of guises and postures, painted in a style characteristic of 70s figurative acrylic painting. Absent the surface blending and scumbling of Paul Young’s oil portraits in the 60s, the acrylic portraits have harder edges and broader areas of saturated flat colour. In this respect, Richard’s paintings of the 70s have an illustrational character that recall the British artist David Hockney or Canadian artist Charles Pachter. In these paintings Dukszta is variously depicted as lounging casually in the nude (“Naked One,” 1973), in a jacket and tie standing in front of a Roman style mosaic (“Ambivalences - Dionysus and Apollo,” 1977), or sitting cross legged and curiously diminished in an open collar shirt (“Janusz in his office,” 1977). Relaxed and comfortable in his own skin, Dukszta again invited the artist to reverse the tables and become the analyst in portraying him as the romantic adventurer, the laid back hipster, the conflicted bourgeois and as the vulnerable analyst.

It is interesting to contrast the Richards’s portraits from the 70's with the silver gelatin photographic portrait “Janusz in a Thoughtful Mood,” by Jim Vacola (1997), which employs some of the conventions of modern photographic portraiture: the causal posture with the back of the right hand distractedly resting in the chin seems a so much more conservative image – or at least an image created in the service of acceptable contemporary electoral politics. The Vacola portrait tells us that the subject is relatively young and modern, unpretentious, serious and thoughtful man – but little more.

The end of Dukszta’s political career in 1981 coincided in Toronto with the emergence of a new generation of artists. Loosely gathered under the international banner of Neo-Expressionism, it was a generational response to the reductivist, formalist and academic aesthetics of the post-war generation of artists and critics. Neo-Expressionism represented a return to portraying the human body and the recognizable world, influenced in measure by the example of the German Expressionists of the first decade of the 20th century. This renewed interest in representation helped to refocus interest on the work of earlier figurative artists, as well as opening the way for the consideration of outsider art, non western art and other non academic traditions. In Toronto, this movement was given form primarily through the group of artists who called themselves ChromaZone. Formed in 1981 by figurative painters Rae Johnson, H.P. Marti, Andy Fabo, Oliver Girling, Sybil Goldstein, Tony Wilson and Stephen Niblock, ChromaZone energized and influenced the Toronto and Canadian art world for the following decade.

The sudden proliferation of figurative artists in the early 1980s was an opportunity for Dukszta to engage not only with a new generation of painters, but also to work with painters who were prepared to consider the contemporary possibilities within the genre of the portrait commission. Dukszta commissioned paintings and portraits by several of the artists associated with ChromaZone including Steven Andrews, Cathy Daley, Andy Fabo, Oliver Girling, Michael Merrill, Evan Penny, Rae Johnson and Tony Wilson. Dukszta was introduced to the members of the group of artists initially through Herb Tookey, co-owner of the Cameron House hotel and tavern, which became both a home and meeting place for many of the new generation of artists. There Dukszta met the ChromaZone artist Rae Johnson whose controversial work at the time was on exhibit on the tavern’s walls. Dukszta responded to the psychosexual themes being explored by Johnson and bought a triptych from the show. His support for the young artists was moral and financial – both buying their work and inviting them to his dinner salons to dine with his progressive friends and colleagues in politics, media and the arts.

Dukszta’s withdrawal from politics and the return of figurative painting may have been a happy alignment of the stars. Less than 12 years after having arrived as an immigrant to Canada he had achieved the distinction of being an elected member of the Ontario Legislature. The end of his political career marked his return to private life as a psychiatrist and to the possibilities of a less restrictive personal lifestyle. With the new generation of artists he was able to explore issues of identity and to share his social, psychological and aesthetic enthusiasms.

“Portrait – Janusz” (1984) by Stephen Andrews contains some of these themes. The vinyl hanging is dominated by a loosely rendered outline drawing of an empty suit and tie. At the level of the suit’s leg is a smaller rendering of another empty suit, this time handling (and being observed handling) two nude figures. At the bottom of the painting is a rough outline drawing of Janusz, naked from the chest up, holding up his left hand with what appears to be a stigmata. Bisecting the painting diagonally is a large diamond back rattlesnake. It is hard not to see this image as one of personal liberation – a release from the straight jacket of public appearance and social propriety and an open investigation with the artist examining Dukszta’s sexual, spiritual and social identity.

Andy Fabo’s painting “Janusz and Laocoon” (1984) depicts Dukszta as an analyst and as an observer. Alluding to Greek mythology and classical art, the painting is an illustration of the psychiatrist at work, observing a patient wrestling with a demon serpent. Oliver Girling also dealt with the theme of inner demons, this time picturing Dukszta, like Jacob, wrestling with his own angel or demon doppelganger in the painting “Warring Against Himself” (1985). Another painting by Girling, “Impostor” (1989), addresses the issue of identity, where Dukszta is depicted holding a television remote control while looking over his shoulder at a video shoot featuring a naked reclining male. Dividing the top half of the painting from the bottom half are large block letters spelling out the word “IMPOSTOR,” suggesting the inauthenticity of a double life. 

Probably the most significant interpretation of Dukszta’s life after politics is Michael Merrill’s adaptation of Hogarth’s “The Rake’s Progress,” into a series of three large canvases in 1984. Clearly, Dukszta was no Thomas Rakewell, (Hogarth’s protagonist), neither having inherited a fortune nor having squandered one in such a spectacular fashion. Yet, Dukszta is both fond of recounting his humble arrival in Canada leading to his ascent to membership in Ontario’s political class, and reflective about the events leading up to the end of that career. In this context, having Merrill depict him as a modern day Thomas Rakewell is both self-deprecating ironic.

Merrill’s three scenes are “In His Glory,” “The Last Supper” and “Janusz in Bedlam.” “In His Glory” is modeled on the painting “The Heir,” where Hogarth depicted Thomas Rakewell being fitted for a new suit of clothes during the reading of his father’s will. Merrill depicts Dukszta in a well-tailored pinstripe suit in the process of being painted by his portraitists from the ChromaZone group, Oliver Girling, Brian Burnett and Rae Johnson. Two additional references in this work seem to suggest an undercurrent of disquiet. While being immortalized by his “court painters,” Dukszta thumbs a book by Proust. Dukszta has read Marcel Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” more than once, identifying with the novel’s examination of the world of manners and social climbing in late 19th century Paris. Also in the painting, looking over Janusz’s shoulder is the face of the existential writer and philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, the author of “Nausea” and “Being and Nothingness.” Sartre’s existential ideas defined human beings as diminished gods, victims of their own freedom, where instead of a judgmental god, we instead mete out the most exquisite punishment to each other, as we probe the memory of our sins, desires, and past hurts.

The second canvas in the series “The Last Supper,” depicts eleven people, including Dukszta, around a table. The table in the painting seems to be either ovular or round, but the figures grouped around it are all facing toward the picture plane as though arranged on a proscenium stage. The eleven member group and the horizontal organization are really the only features of the painting which recall Leonardo’s “Last Supper.” The image portrays a rather happy dinner party with slightly too much wine, but that too may have been reason enough for Dukszta to give it religious references. The work seems to have been a loosely based conflation of two paintings by Hogarth, “The Orgy” and “The Morning Lévee,” both of which are quoted as hanging pictures in the background right and left of the painting and both of which comment on hedonistic excess and indulgence – quite the opposite of imminent mortal sacrifice.

The “disciples” in this case are the important members of Dukszta’s family and social life at one of their many dinner parties. Dukszta, in the centre right of the painting, has one arm around his wife Janet Churnin. To his right are his brother Andrzej and Maureen Duffy and Basia and Andrzej Jordan Rozwadowski and Maureen Duffy. To his left are Janusz’s sister-in-law Annette Dukszta and Frank and Marilyn Vasilkioti. Winston and Mary Jane Young are at opposite ends of the painting – a compositional solution that was resented by the Youngs and caused a rupture in the friendship. Mary Jane Young asked that she and Winston be altered or removed from the painting but neither Janusz nor Michael Merrill was prepared to change the painting and the friendship was irreparably damaged. Such was the closeness of the social group orbiting around Janusz Dukszta and his brother Andrzej that it had the power to generate such a strong emotional response from a fictitious seating arrangement.

The final painting in the series, “Janusz in Bedlam,” based on Hogarth’s “Bedlam,” is a dystopic vision of Dukszta’s last days as mad, naked and despondent, surrounded by a collage of images of the suffering of Christ. The tragic outcome that this last painting in the series represents recalls the Van Dyck portrait by Paul Young ten years earlier, where the artist prophesied a dark future for his patron. The allusions in the painting to Christ’s crucifixion also recall Stephen Andrews’s painting of the naked Dukszta displaying the stigmata – a theme of Christian symbolism that would be revisited in a number of major commissions by Phil Richards in the 1990s. “Bedlam” remains strangely anomalous – the first two paintings of the series seeming to far better characterize the stylish and social Janusz Dukszta that most people encounter. However, “Bedlam” is critical to understanding Dukszta’s desire to examine, and have others examine, what he calls his dark side.

Following the completion of the Rake’s Progress, Dukszta proposed to Merrill to undertake a series of paintings of scenes from the life of Christ. Merrill’s initial reluctance to take on the commission eventually gave way to Dukszta’s enthusiasms and Merrill produced a series of six canvases depicting the Baptism of Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, the Temptation of Christ, the Agony in the Garden, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Unlike the Rake’s Progress, the person of Janusz Dukszta is largely absent from the series, Christ being imagined here instead as a young and physically fit rock star. Dukszta, however, makes a cameo appearance as the voyeuristic reflection in the pool enjoying the seduction and temptation of handsome young Jesus.

Religious allegory and group portraits of family and friends played an important role in Dukszta’s commissions. Dukszta credits his brother Andrzej as a collaborator and “enabler” in his art collecting, recalling that is was Andrzej who suggested the early portrait of the two brothers by Barbara Mercer (1963). Andrzej Dukszta and Barbara Mercer were friends and the artist had asked Andrzej to sit for a portrait. Andrzej, however, insisted that it should be a double portrait of the two brothers. The bond between the brothers was very close and over the years purchased and commissioned artwork was presented by Janusz both as gifts for Andrzej and his family, and as a form of repayment for outstanding debts. Janusz commissioned Rae Johnson to paint a portrait of the two brothers in “Janusz Sitting on Sofa, Andrzej Behind,” (1982) and Phil Richards painted “Family Portrait at Andrzej’s” (1985), depicting Andrzej and his children Monika, Witold and Tala with a porphyry bust of Janusz. “Two Brothers Take a Moonlight Stroll” (1990), also by Richards, depicts the close relationship shared by the two men, while sister-in-law Annette gazes out across the city and her son Adam sits in the lower right hand corner of the canvas. 

Motivated to reprise Michael Merrill’s “Last Supper,” Dukszta began talking to friends about a “Lamentation,” a reinterpretation of the Botticelli “Lamentation” in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich. It would be a large religious allegorical commission featuring the deceased Dukszta lamented by his close family and friends. Tony Wilson, Dukszta’s companion at the time was to have carried out the commission, but disagreements over the pace of the development of the commission led Dukszta to instead ask New York based-artist Yves Tessier to take over. Tessier worked closely with Dukszta’s friend Susan Teskey to map and compose the various significant people in the Dukszta orbit, also conscripting Andrzej’s daughters Monika and Tala to complete the four panel, 17 foot long mural which was painted in the living room of Dukszta’s apartment.

The “Lamentation” by Yves Tessier (1990) depicts Dukszta laid out in the middle of the painting, dramatically foreshortened with his head in the near foreground and his feet, caressed by Mary Magdalene (Susan Teskey), extending into the imaginary space of picture, while thirteen other friends and family observe the scene. Picking up from the religious themes he had developed with Stephen Andrews, Michael Merrill and Phil Richards, Dukszta had decided he wanted to be dead in the painting. In subsequent years Dukszta commissioned Tessier to do two more works representing the Duksza orbit. “Eight Heads” (1998) is a series of small painted terra cotta busts of varying scale representing Janusz, Andrzej and Annette Dukszta, Eleanor Beattie, nephew Adam, Janet Churnin and Jack VanDuyvenbode. A recently completed commission of small al fresco portraits in plaster by Tessier features the profiles of Janusz, Adam, Annette, Eleanor, Susan Teskey and Max Streicher (2009).

In the 1980s, Phil Richards’s style had evolved from his Hockneyesque broad flat areas of saturated colour characteristic of his work of the in the 1970s, into figures that began to appear more sculpted and spaces that were perpectivally deeper and more dramatic. His earlier, simplified rendering gave way to a photo realistic attention to detail and surfaces. These developments in Richard’s style appealed to Dukszta’s interest in Renaissance and Baroque art history and his increasing appetite for more, and more elaborate commissions, beginning a series of commissions quoting art historical styles and allegorical programs. Notable in this context is the portrait of Dukszta entitled “Janusz Reflection” (1985), quoting directly Raphael’s “Madonna della Sedia,” executed in the same year as “Portrait of Andrzej’s Family.” In “Altared States” (1990), Dukszta, the traveler and art connoisseur and fan of all things carnal is depicted as a 17th century aristocrat, standing in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria before Bernini’s famous sculptural and architectural installation, “The Ecstasy of St. Theresa.” The constructed painting has its own light source and is remarkable for the rich rendering of the scagliola in the flanking pilasters and entablature and the rendering of the great folds of the apparently yellow cape, which is in reality, a raincoat. In “Janusz as Bernini” it appears that Dukszta has been interrupted from his reading of the guide book to the artwork, to turn and glance at the viewer, while a red curtain appears to have been pulled aside to afford him a private viewing of Bernini’s strange and erotic altar piece. 

Adaptations of well-known scenes from Renaissance and Baroque art continued to be an important part of Richards’s commissions through the 1990s. “Janusz and Jack” (1995), is a play on Bernini’s “Ecstasy of St. Theresa,” replacing St. Theresa with Dukszta and the angel of love with Janusz’s friend Jack VanDuyvenbode. “Roman Holiday” (1995) references Raphael’s “School of Athens” (including a cameo of the artist seated with his sketch pad in the lower left corner.) The major work of this time is a hinged, two-sided, polyptych by Richards entitled “Six Scenes from the life of the Virgin” (1997) that features scenes of “Mary and St. Anne,” “The Presentation at the Temple,” “The Annunciation,” “The Marriage at Cana” and “The Pieta.” Modeling the figures are Janusz’s friends Chloe Griffin as Mary and her mother Krystyne Griffin as St. Anne. Friends Jack VanDuyvenbode modeled the naked angel Gabriel and Alex Williams the business-suited Jesus of Nazareth and the Christ in Pieta respectively, while Janusz and Andrzej model themselves.

“Scenes from the Life of the Virgin” is the most elaborate and richly appointed of Dukszta’s commissions. Each panel is eccentric in its shape – constructed to accommodate the details of the images within and individually framed and gilded. Each scene is set in lush contemporary Edenic environments and interiors filled with white hollyhocks and lilies, scarlet satins, cerulean blue skies and gilded surfaces. The biblical characters are modeled by young, physically attractive people, whose contemporary nakedness sexualizes the otherwise religious Christian narrative. With the side panels fully opened, the work is dominated by large centre panel “Annunciation.” A blonde and naked angel Gabriel, seen from behind, reveals himself to the naked Virgin. Startled, she vainly clutches her breast in an attempt to cover herself. In the right panel, in a reconfiguration of the Marriage at Cana, Mary, dressed in a strapless evening gown, empties the last drop from a bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne, while being watched by Jesus in the person of a dark haired gentleman in a suit. The side panel closes to reveal the climactic Pieta. Mary supports the dead Christ between her legs while the scene is illuminated by Andrzej, holding a lantern and revealed by Janusz, pulling back a scarlet robe. The lantern as the single light source intensifies the visual drama, sharply illuminating the features of Mary, Jesus, the two brothers and the broad expanse of the dead Christ’s flesh. Everything else falls off sharply into darkness. Revealed is the flesh of the mother and of the son – the central figures of the Christian drama, seen as objects of worship and carnal desire.

Around the turn of the millennium, the portraits of Dukszta begin to change. They cease representing the dynamic, mercurial, mischievous and feline character that we have learned to know from portraits past and instead, begin to profile the aging subject. “Janusz as Father,”(1997) by Phil Richards, “Janusz Deconstructed,” (2001) by Fabrizio Perozzi and Bryan McBurney’s photograph “Determination” (2005) are portraits which appear to contrast the drive to live with the inevitable process of aging. It is hard too, not to see the photographs of Vincenzo Pietropaolo, “Janusz and His Books,” (2005) and Bryan McBurney “The Light Shines on Janusz,” (2006) as expressions of saudade, elegies to the acquisitions and accomplishments of a brighter past. 

Dukszta’s life threatening illness in 2006 and his painfully slow recovery is documented by Phil Richards in “In the Hospital” (2006), where an apparently impatient and glum Dukszta reads a newspaper in a hospital bed. On the bedside table is a vase of flowers, a tomato and an exercise weight. His long illness and convalescence caused his muscles to atrophy significantly requiring substantial follow-up exercise and physiotherapy. A session in his home was documented by Goran Petkovski in a series of 15 black and white photographs in “The Physiotherapy Session” (2007). Looking at the ravages visited upon both the body and the will in these photographs, one cannot help but wonder if this is the same “Bedlam” Dukszta had in mind some 22 years before.

Over five decades Janusz Dukszta commissioned 70 portraits of himself, his immediate family and extended family of friends and companions. It is a body of portraiture that is a very personal record of the man, the friends and family that surround him, and the ideas and passions that accompanied him through the stages of his life. The commissions are a primary subject, but are also the artifacts of Dukszta’s personal, professional and intellectual engagements. They are a testament to his commitment to aesthetic engagement – an engagement with the artist and to a life informed and reflected by art. His accumulated commissions record the succeeding stages of his life’s passage, documenting his aspirations and fears, his desires and his melancholies, and the significant people who have played a role in it. With the artists he adored and debated and entertained, and with his family and friends as willing accomplices, Dukszta became the co-author of the artistic program that is his life.

Gordon Hatt, January 2010


1. Janusz Dukszta was born in 1932 in Lida, Poland. His father fled Poland for Great Britain after the Russian annexation in 1939 to be joined by the family in London after the war in 1946. He studied medicine in Dublin, Ireland. After finishing his studies he immigrated to Canada in 1959 where he specialized in psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Dukszta was the NDP member of provincial parliament in the Ontario Legislature for the west-end Toronto riding of Parkdale from 1971 to 1981. Following the 1981 election he returned to work at the Queen Street Mental Health Centre in Toronto.
2. The best known images of the early abstract genre are Matisse’s portraits and busts of Jeanette for example, Portrait of Madame Matisse with a Green Stripe, 1905, Statens Museum for Kundst, Copenhagen, and Picasso’s Portrait of Daniel Henry Kahnweiler, 1910, Art Institute of Chicago.
3. Paul Young was born in Toronto and attended the Ontario College of Art from 1955 to 1958. An earlier portrait of Dukszta by Paul Young, Thalidomide, set the stage for the Van Dyck portrait.
4. Cf. Anthony Van Dyck, Lord John Stuart and his Brother, Lord Bernard Stuart, National Gallery, London, ca. 1638.
5. The theme of melancholy is underscored here with the ominous silhouette of the gun behind the head of the spectre. According to Dukszta, Young declared that Dukszta’s fate would be a death by suicide, and painted this reference into the portrait. 
6. The memento mori (Latin: "Remember you will die") is a genre of art featuring symbols of death and transience. Memento mori references in art trace back to the Middle Ages and become a reoccurring theme in 17th century painting: cf. Nicholas Poussin, Et in Arcadia Ego, 1637, Museé du Louvre, and frequently found in Dutch still life painting such as Pieter Claesz , Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill, 1628, Metropolitan Museum of Art. 
7. Communicated orally by Janusz Dukszta.
8. “The gallery's home was in Oliver Girling's studio space at 320 Spadina Avenue. For the next two years, ChromaZone defiantly enforced their unusual mandate: to show figurative painting, practice inclusivity, be artist-supported and above all be spontaneous, alive and fun. Donna Lypchuk, Chromaliving, unpublished manuscript, 2009. 
9. Herb Tookey was a PhD candidate in psychology and a student of Dukszta’s and later part of the full time staff at the Queen Street Mental Health Centre.
10. Rae Johnson’s paintings were based on Polaroids made during a Halloween party at the Cameron in 1981. The paintings were installed in the back room a month later. Ursula Pflug wrote an article in the second issue of NOW magazine entitled "Art and Artsies meet at the Cameron," and the exhibition was reviewed by Jean Randolph in Vanguard magazine. The series of eight paintings depicted the band “The Government,” and Tim Jocelyn and Andy Fabo dancing and a triptych representing Oliver Girling and a female friend posing nude upstairs in the Cameron. The triptych was purchased Dukszta and installed in a prominent place in his apartment.
11. Represented in “Lamentation” are Tala Dukszta, Thade Rachwa≈, Janet Churnin, Jean Lee, Witold Dukszta, Vince and Julianna Pietropaolo, the artist Yves Tessier, Susan Teskey, Anthony McFarlane, Eleanor Bettie, Andrzej Dukszta, Monika Dukszta, Adam Dukszta and Stanis≈awa Dukszta.
12. Uncharacteristically, when asked why, the analyst is at a complete loss to explain. Communicated orally by Janusz Dukszta.