About the Artists
Disillusioned with the art world’s emphasis on commercialism, Jen Mann views her paintings as physical and visual manifestations of ideas rather than as products. Within her work Mann toys with colour saturation and hue to expose previously unseen details and challenge conventional notions of beauty and intimacy, revealing the hidden magic in otherwise awkward images. An important aspect in Mann’s work is her deliberate cultivation of imperfections. Mann prefers the off-shots, the pictures where the subject is blinking, or making a funny face, or looking away from the camera. “I think that there is something special about images that capture awkward or perhaps non-beautiful or posed moments. There is something beautiful in the honest moment.” Mann then heavily Photoshops her images to give them a washed-out look, and to insert various digital “glitches” that most of us would consider undesirable. Mann uses colour as a storytelling technique, evoking elements of identity and interpersonal relationships in her paintings. Using imagery and symbols we are familiar with along with her dry and self satirical humour as a unifying force weaving her works together, Mann is able to address our society’s hypocritical and flawed projections of love and desire.
Andy Dixon is hyper-aware of art’s relationship with money. Signifiers of wealth abound in his large acrylic paintings, which take as their subjects stately lords, reclining nudes, ornate ballrooms, bathing beauties, and prominent paintings of the aforementioned motifs. Borrowing content from Renaissance art, Flemish still lifes, and Google Image searches of "most expensive vases", his subject matter is selected on the basis of public expectation of what an expensive painting should look like. By sampling content verified as valuable by the market, Dixon positions his own work to ask, "What is the value of a painting of a valuable object?"
Our value of art is truly a phenomenon that operates on a set of rules distinct from the ones that govern the rest of our world. Paintings which feature the tropes Dixon samples from perhaps at one time had social or political agency but are now simply commodities assigned value by the highest bidder. Paintings of expensive things are themselves expensive things collected by the wealthy to promote the luxury lifestyle. However, Dixon isn't out to mock the affluent. Rather, he is a complicit player in the game; his larger paintings of upper class social scenes tend to feature his own previous paintings hanging on the walls in the background.
For the past number of years, Bradley Harms has taken a leading role in a new and forward-looking wave of Canadian abstraction. He has built upon traditions within the medium, whilst also creating work that reflects and critiques contemporary social and technological developments. Harms' work addresses the manner in which we perceive painting: manipulating the ideas of surface, form, and our notion of perfection."The paintings, although appearing close to the technically perfect, always fall short in that they subtly betray the human hand in their production. Invariably, the lines and marks wobble and waver. I think of this work as trying to deny the gestural mark, but never able to transcend it. This notion of striving for perfection but never really achieving it instills the work with a sense of humanity that I find gratifying metaphorically. Wherein Modernism was concerned with purity, my work could be seen as its contemporary redheaded stepchild… Wobbly Modernism… Quite impure!” -Bradley Harms
Bradley Harms received his BFA from the University of Calgary in 1996 and his Masters of Fine Arts from the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004. Harms has exhibited extensively throughout Canada, as well as on the international stage, including Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Miami, Munich, Sydney, Singapore, and Tokyo.
Ben Skinner grew up in a small oil town in Southern Ontario. He graduated with a BFA in Interdisciplinary Fine Art from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax in 2000, and with an MFA in Art & Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003. Ben lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia. Currently showing with Mayberry Fine Art in Toronto, K.Imperial Fine Art in San Fransisco and Hazan Projects in New York.
Ben Skinner’s practice navigates grandiose concepts of language, introspection, and materiality, while manoeuvring a wide range of iconography, visual vocabulary, and mediums. Skinner incorporates machine-cut lettering in clean fonts and non-conventional material, mixing classical motifs such as flower still life’s and tongue-in-cheek word play that seemingly pulsate on the canvas. His work evokes an entirely new visual language, a hybrid heavily indebted to old traditions on one end but somehow liberated by new contemporary modes and traditions on the other.