MIXED BAG MAG IN OTTAWA: What’s Happening This Week!

While in Ottawa this summer to cover Sakahàn at the National Gallery I discovered  a lot about this city that I love so I decided I needed to spend more than a weekend and more than a week – why not an entire month?!

Turns out I came at a great time! Despite the dull November sky there are some vibrant events happening this week.

black stroke

Chikonzero Chazunguza, “Tigere Muupfu?/Sitting Pretty?”, 2013, at Gallery 101 from Gallery 101 on Vimeo.

WED @ GALLERY 101

Workshop Wednesdays
Fish scale art making with Ottawa based Métis artist Jaime Koebel
6-9pm
$10 open to max of 8 people

Bounty/Abondance
Solo Exhibition by Chikonzero (Chiko) Chazunguza curated by Pamela Edmonds (Third Space Art Projects)

Oct 25 to November 30, 2013

“Bounty is a solo exhibition of recent work by artist Chikonzero (Chiko) Chazunguza exploring his subversive take on the ongoing inequalities of exchange between contemporary Africa and the Western world. This installation brings together a series of paintings, photographic images as well as a performative work that reflects on the artist’s experiences living and working across three continents (Africa, Europe and Canada).”

~Pamela Edmonds

black stroke

THURS @ OTTAWA ART GALLERY

“Aboriginal scholar, poet and writer, Armand Garnet Ruffo previews his forthcoming book based on the life and art of Norval Morrisseau! The book combines the mythic world of Ojibway storytelling with evocative realism to tell the amazing story of the artist’s life. The reading will be accompanied by a visual presentation of the artist’s paintings.”

Join Facebook Event Here!

black stroke

THURS, FRI & SAT @ CANADA’S NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE

Akram Khan is truly one of the most visionary dancers / choreographers of our time.. Experiencing his work at Luminato 2011 has been one of the highlights of my life!

(TIP – visit his website. The intro is a stunner!)

More info on the event on their NAC’s website. Purchase tickets online here.

black stroke

THURS, FRI, SAT & SUN @ GALERIE SAW GALLERY

ART STAR 5

Video Art Biennial / Biennale de vidéo d’art

November 14 – 17, 2013

Galerie SAW Gallery + Club SAW

Single screenings: $5 / Biennial all-access pass: $15

“Now in its fifth edition, the Art Star Video Art Biennial is a unique platform for artists and curators working with moving images to connect and exchange in the national capital. Under the theme of Witness and Testify, Art Star highlights practices rooted in place, intimacy, and broader questions of social movements and collective histories. Over four days, SAW hosts screenings, social events, and masterclasses with video artists from around the planet, and curators culled from our vibrant local milieu. We’re thrilled to be partnering this year with the Media Arts Network of Ontario for their national conference, Evolve or Perish, which will add a special contingent of media artists, programmers, and theorists to the mix. Join us as we celebrate art’s potential to effect social change and challenge our assumptions of the world around us.”

Join Facebook Event Here!\

black stroke

THURS ONGOING TO DEC 1 @ LIBRARY & ARCHIVES

The European Film Festival

“World-class, award-winning, and Oscar-submitted films from 27 countries across the European Union!

Special guests welcomed this year include Tahar Rahim, lead actor from the Cannes-selected Grand Central (France), as well as Matthias Drescher, producer of the acclaimed drama Shifting the Blame (Germany).

Other festival evenings will be introduced with exclusive video greetings from filmmakers or actors, and many nights are followed by complimentary Embassy receptions. All of the films shown are Ottawa premieres, presented at the Auditorium of 395 Wellington St., Ottawa (Library and Archives Canada building).”
black stroke

FRI @ ABORIGINAL ART CENTRE (GATINEAU)

Artist Talk by Jason Baerg speaking on Aboriginal Expressions: National Capital Commission Confederation Boulevard Banners 2013

Aboriginal Art Centre Aboriginal Affairs, Room 928, 10 Wellington St

11:30 am

View the Gallery of all the banners.

black stroke

 

ALL THIS WEEK @ BYTOWNE CINEMA

Some great films are opening this week at the Bytowne Cinema like Oil Stands Karaoke and A Touch of Sin

black stroke

Want to know all about what is happening in both the Canadian and International Culture scene?  Like us on Facebook or follow on Twitter @mixedbagmag!

 

LOOKING BEYOND THE OBVIOUS: The Art of Chiko Chazunguza

Shift art show at BAND Gallery Toronto, artist Chiko Chazunguza
Shift: Chiko Chazunguza at B.A.N.D Gallery. Photo by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

Reflecting on the Traditional in Transition 

Perhaps the most obvious comparison one might make upon seeing Chiko Chazunguza’s paintings would be to the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. But to stop there would be like experiencing a Wifredo Lam painting in the Cubist style and expecting that its inspiration followed the same trajectory to creation as a painting by Picasso. Like these masters of Cubism, Chiko and Jean-Michel punctuate the compositional conversation with some shared visual shorthand and technique but the point from which they leap off of is, like Lam and Picasso, individually unique and located within their own cultural specificity.

Originally from just outside Harare, Zimbabwe, Chiko spent seven years in Sofia, Bulgaria on an art scholarship. While in Sofia he “was trained in the classical modes of printmaking, drawing and painting”. Upon arriving home though Chiko realized that in order to expand as an artist he would have to enter back into the culture of his youth so he could find a visual language that would be his true to his way of scripting a story.

“I wanted to pick a language I could use that was compatible to my history, my tradition.”

Painting by Zimbabwean artist Chiko ChazunguzaHuman walls by Chiko Chazunguza. 

Finding a New Visual Language

The inspiration of mis-registration, the effect given by the areas that overlap and bleed out in screen-printing, seemed appropriate for this cultural provocateur. It was Chiko’s experience as a printmaker that made him “approach painting with an attitude of non-conformity”, to shift the paint just outside the lines. This overlapping and layering, inherent in the process of screen printing, spoke to the layers of culture – traditional tribal, leftover colonial, urban contemporary – that blanketed Zimbabwe in repression upon Chiko’s return.

“It was like being in Sofia during the breakdown of the old regime. Communism was kicking its last kicks was a dying horse and the political condition that I arrived home to was much the same.”

But it was not until another move, another cultural relocation, that Chiko began the collection and style of paintings showcased at the  B.A.N.D Gallery for his show SHIFT.

Upon moving to Canada this artist, who is known back home for his installations that poke and prod at the socio-political contentions of a country in flux, picked up a pop can then oddly enough was inspired to paint.

Detail of mixed media painting by Chiko Chazunguza, pop can strips weaved throughNursery 2 (detail) by Chiko Chazunguza. 

It was the omnipresence of aluminum soda cans in Canada and their ease of acquisition that made them fitting as a symbol for consumer culture. Along with being ubiquitous they were durable – omni-persistent!

Mixed media painting by Chiko ChazunguzaNursery 2 by Chiko Chazunguza.

It was the “generousity of Canadians” who upon hearing he was an artist stocked him up with paint that got him started in combining the two materials to continue his theme of “reflecting on the traditional in transition.”

“Here food is always being advertised. It is at your doorstep, in your mailbox. Pop is a drink that is not necessary but it is always in front of you.”

Juxtaposed with hard memories of scarcity back in Zimbabwe, where people had to line-up single file into endless rows for basic staples, a vision was realized for a new body of work.

“Line-ups and people waiting in suspense for something to come, that was my inspiration…these line-ups look beautiful in their own way and you can almost forget the struggle…When there is a crisis, a shortage of basic commodities people behave differently and visually this informs.”

Mixed media painting by Chiko ChazunguzaPassage by Chiko Chazunguza.

Shifting our Ideas of Who We Are

Many of the paintings in the SHIFT show come with pop cans, liquor labels and food advertisements cutting through the canvas like interruptions. They are then woven over, around and through deconstructed figures, busy heading nowhere in never-ending cues for food, for water, for life. Urbanization in Zimbabwe led to the inability for one to produce his or her own food which had been the previous traditional practice.  A population of producers turned into a population of dependent consumers enmeshed (like the cans in Chiko’s work) in the ebb and flow of changing regimes.

“The figures are multi-faced; the disfiguration is because one’s face may change into all sorts of faces in that queue.”

While waiting in line with a stranger one can “start chatting, become friends, fall in love.” But by the end of the line the friend becomes the enemy and the lover a foe if one gets the last ration with nothing left for the one behind.

Mixed media painting by Chiko ChazunguzaNursery 1 by Chiko Chazunguza

Although the painted experience in Chiko’s work is intimately personal the anonymous quality of the figures in his paintings let them become the every(wo)man, no longer a “them” but an “us” as together, in this contemporary context, we face a future of scarcity on a global scale.

Following in the tradition of artists like the aforementioned Wifredo Lam we can see that Chiko, for his inspiration and call to action as an artist, draws from the common experiences of humanity in transition.

 “Through art, I reflect upon how issues such as spirituality, disposition, denied access and interference with basic commodities, and the painful evolution of ancient cultural traditions into contemporary yet uncertain urbanized communities, all shape and shift our constructed notions of identity.”

Pamela Edmonds the curator for Shift with artist Chiko ChazunguzaShow curator Pamela Edmonds of Third Space Art Projects with artist Chiko Chazunguza.

More of Chiko’s work can be viewed on his website www.chikochazunguza.ca or until March 31st at the The Lorraine Fritzi Yale Gallery in Ottawa, Ontario.

All photography by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag. 

2013 THE YEAR OF THE ARTIST: McLuhan’s Musings on the Role of the Artist in Society

Mixed Media Painting by Chiko ChazunguzaMixed media painting by Chiko Chazunguza. Photo by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag. 

Art as Survival Thrival in the Electric Digital Age

“The job of the artist is to upset all the senses and thus provide new vision and new powers of adjusting to and relating to new situations.”

These are the words of Marshall McLuhan given in a lecture at Columbia University way back in 1973 on the theme of “Art as Survival in the Electric Age.”

McLuhan understood the tremendous societal influence that the artist can have when they put action behind their vision.

As we inhabit a world that has truly become the McLuhanian Global Village the isolation that can often accompany strength of vision is being eroded away by technology that allows the artist to connect with their muse, locate their tribe and readily receive affirmation from a participatory audience.

When you mix globalization, democratization of technology and creative minds who see colour where others see gray there is incredible potential for radical shifts.

And more than any other time in history there is a breed of creators who travel past both conceptual and cultural boundaries. A new world is being designed in the minds of artists and assembled by the hands of everyone working together with a shared vision for a different kind of world.

MIXED BAG MAG proclaims 2013 to be the year of the artist. It is the year where the cultural trickster, the music maker, and the one who dances to the beat of a different drum will be the agent of change.

quote by Marshall McLuhan and youth walking for Youth Arts with art is power bannerWalk for Youth Arts, Manifesto, Toronto 2012. Photo by Leah Snyder.