In Conversation

Face to Face: An Evening with Rashid Johnson

The Power Plant is pleased to welcome influential American artist Rashid Johnson to Face to Face for the 2019 edition of the gallery's annual fundraiser. Featured at The Power Plant in Fall 2019, Johnson will be partaking in the Clerestory Commission Program, where he will be developing a new work for this specific site.

Johnson embraces of a wide range of media – including sculpture, painting, drawing, filmmaking, and installation – which yields a complex multidisciplinary practice that incorporates diverse materials rich with symbolism and personal history. The artist’s work is known for its narrative embedding of a pointed range of everyday materials and objects, often associated with his childhood and frequently referencing collective aspects of African American intellectual history and cultural identity. Many of Johnson’s works convey rhythms of the occult and mystic: evoking his desire to transform and expand each included object’s field of association in the process of reception.

The evening will begin with a panel presented by Chubb and featuring Johnson, with dinner to follow. Each table will be animated by artists and cultural producers who will share their own perspectives on the current cultural landscape, providing guests with the opportunity for a unique, intimate dining experience.

Invited artists include: Jen Aitken, Ghazaleh Avarzamani, Iain Baxter&, James Carl, Maggie Groat, Spring Hurlbut, Micah Lexier, Meryl McMaster, John Monteith, Roula Partheniou, Dawit L. Petros, Thomas J. Price, Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa, Nep Sidhu and Ian Wallace.

Invited table moderators include: Nabila Abdel Nabi, Lauren Barnes, Dawn Cain, Kendra Campbell, Stefan Hancherow, Elizabeth Harney, Shelagh Keeley, Justine Kohleal, Gerald McMaster, David Moos, Gaëlle Morel, Julia Paoli, Georgia Scherman, Jennifer Simaitis, Gaëtane Verna and Jayne Wilkinson.

About the Artists

Jen Aitken (b.1985) is a Toronto-based artist. Closely observing the built environment, Aitken makes sculptures and drawings that combine perceptual ambiguity with structural clarity. She received her MFA in 2014 from the University of Guelph in Ontario, and her BFA in 2010 from Emily Carr University in Vancouver. She was the 2017 recipient of the Hnatyshyn Foundation and TD Bank Emerging Visual Artist Award, and has received grants from the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts. Recent exhibitions include Georgia Scherman Projects (Toronto), YYZ Artists’ Outlet (Toronto), and Centre Clark (Montreal).

Ghazaleh Avarzamani’s practice examines the role of experience, memory, modern rationality and educational methodologies in the construction of knowledge. Considering a range of spaces, structures and devices for self-development and play, her work questions the contextual biases that shape meanings and values. Exploring these concerns in relation to growth and erasure, Avarzamani aims to expose the paradoxical realities beneath the surface of society. Her work has been presented in solo exhibitions at the Koffler Gallery, (2019); Ab-Anbar Gallery, Tehran (2016); Asia House, London (2014); and Light Gallery, London (2013). Recent group exhibitions include Bocconi Art Gallery, Milan (2018); Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium Museum, Norway (2018); and Patel Gallery (2016), among others. She is currently based in Toronto.

Iain Baxter& (b. 1936) in Middlesborough, England, is arguably the first, and most broadly influential, conceptual artist in Canada. He has worked in a wide variety of media, including painting, sculpture, installation, and photography. He also has had a distinguished teaching career and was central to inspiring Vancouver School artists Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, and Stan Douglas. Baxter& is Professor Emeritus at the School of Visual Arts, University of Windsor and a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Baxter& currently lives in Windsor.

James Carl (b. 1960) earned his MFA from Rutgers University and has degrees from McGill University, the University of Victoria and the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. His work is in public and private collections across North America and Europe including the National Gallery of Canada. Currently, he is Professor of Studio Art at the University of Guelph.

For nearly thirty years, Carl has been crafting small and large-scale sculptures from a wide variety of materials ranging from cardboard and marble to most recently, venetian blinds. The notions of craft and labour have been at the root of his studio practice and have set the conceptual framework for his work that ranges from powerful and ironic critiques of globalization and consumerism to celebrations of early and mid 20th century modern sculpture.

Maggie Groat utilizes a range of media including works on paper, sculpture, textiles, site-specific interventions and publications to interrogate methodologies of collage. Her research surrounds site-responsiveness with regards to shifting territories, alternative and decolonial ways-of-being, and the transformation of salvaged materials into utilitarian objects for speculation, vision and action. The approaches and perspectives demonstrated within her practice are informed by her Haudenosaunee and Settler ancestry, her roles as mother and environmental steward. Her work has been shown at institutions across Canada, including The Western Front, Vancouver, Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, Art Gallery of York University, and Art Museum University of Toronto. She has been long-listed twice for the Sobey Art Award (2015, 2018). She is the editor of The Lake, published by Art Metropole and ALMANAC, published by the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery.

Spring Hurlbut attended the Ontario College of Art University and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Hurlbut has exhibited at several institutions including: The Morgan Library, New York, Musée des beaux-arts, Montreal, Salzburger Kunstverein, Austria, Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, Parc departmental de la Courneuve, France and The Power Plant. Her work has been collected by the National Gallery, AGO, MACM, MBAM and the Albright Knox Art Gallery.

“I explore themes of presence and absence, loss and transformation. In my photographic work with cremated ashes, the tension resides between the comprehensible (the physical ashes) and the intractably complex (our feelings and beliefs about life and death). My work unsentimentally envisions our unalterable meeting with death while affirming the continuum of life.” - Spring Hurlbut

Rashid Johnson (American, b.1977) is a sculptor and photographer who works in a wide range of everyday materials, including wax, wood, steel, brass, shea butter, ceramic tile, and found objects including books, records, VHS tapes and live plants. He finds inspiration in the work of a diverse group of visual artists, actors, musicians, writers, activists, and philosophers, including Carl Andre, Joseph Beuys, Joseph Cornell, Kasimir Malevich, Parliament Funkadelic, and Sun Ra. Often identified with the post-black art movement, Johnson's work engages questions of personal, racial, and cultural identity, producing a unique synthesis of historical and material references that are grounded in African American and art history while expanding into questions of mysticism and cosmology.

Johnson was included in the landmark 2001 exhibition Freestyle at the Studio Museum in Harlem, an exhibition of 28 important young African American artists. The following year, he had his first solo exhibition, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Since that time, he has had solo shows at SculptureCenter, New York; the Memphis PowerHouse; and the Kunstmuseum Magdeburg, Germany. His work has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.; the Institute of Contemporary Photography, New York; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, among others.

Exhibitions at The Power Plant
Upcoming: Fall 2019 and Winter 2020 Season

Micah Lexier is a Toronto-based artist whose activities including making, collecting, and organizing. He has a deep interest in measurement, increment, the passage of time, found imagery, geometry and display structures. He has presented over 100 solo exhibitions, participated in more than 200 group exhibitions and produced a dozen permanent public commissions. In 2013, The Power Plant hosted a 15 year survey exhibition of Lexier’s work entitled One, and Two, and More Than Two. In 2015, Lexier was awarded the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts. Lexier’s work is found in public and corporate collections including The British Museum, London, the Contemporary Art Gallery, Sydney, The Jewish Museum, New York, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Micah Lexier is represented by Birch Contemporary, Toronto.

Exhibitions at The Power Plant
Past: Fall 2014 Season

Meryl McMaster is an Ottawa-based artist of Plains Cree, British and Dutch descent. Her distinct approach to photographic portraiture and self-portraiture explores questions of how our sense of self is constructed through land, lineage, history, and culture. McMaster is the recipient of the Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award, the REVEAL Indigenous Art Award, Charles Pachter Prize for Emerging Artists, the Canon Canada Prize, the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, the OCAD U Medal and was long listed for the 2016 Sobey Art Award. Her work has been included in exhibitions worldwide including National Gallery of Canada, Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian, Art Gallery of Ontario, Ottawa Art Gallery, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Mendel Art Gallery and Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

John Monteith (b. Canada) is an interdisciplinary artist working across drawing, painting, photography, textiles and installation. His highly formalist works interpret the fluidity of urban space as contingent and constructed, referencing issues of identity, temporality, ephemerality, and indexicality.

Monteith has exhibited at the Tate Modern, London, the Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin, the Taipei Contemporary Art Center, Taiwan, the 7th Beijing Biennale, Beijing, the DUMBO Art Center's Under the Bridge Festival, New York, and Sàn Art, Ho Chi Minh City. Monteith has held residencies at CAT Cologne, Germany (2011), Kunsthalle Roveredo, Switzerland (2014) and I: Project Space, Beijing (2018). Reviews and essays dedicated to his work have been included in Mousse Magazine, Canadian Art, Art in America, Charley, C Magazine, October 135, The Huffington Post, K-48, Petit Mort: Recollections of a Queer Public, The New Yorker, and others.

Represented by Division Gallery, Canada and Galerie Wenger, Switzerland, he currently lives and works in Toronto where he is a faculty member of the University of Toronto, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design.

Roula Partheniou’s practice centers on an exploration of the replica, calling into question the language of everyday objects and the ways that we read and decipher our environment. Her installations — often site-specific — utilize mechanisms such as optical illusion, associative play, visual similes, material puns, colour cues and the double-take, to draw an alternate logic from commonplace materials and to deconstruct the experience of perception.

Partheniou’s work has been exhibited at Arróniz Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, The Museum of Bat Yam Israel, Tanya Bonakdar, New York, Wu Gallery, Lima, Oakville Galleries, Musee regional de Rimouski Quebec and the Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina. Her work is held in various private, institutional and corporate collections. Roula Partheniou is co-founder of the Nothing Else Press, a publisher of artist’s books, multiples and editions. She is represented by MKG127 in Toronto.

Dawit L. Petros is a visual artist, researcher and educator. Petros' research analyses the boundaries and limits of geography, cultural knowledge, power and history. Throughout the past decade, he has located these efforts within a critical re-reading of the entanglements between colonialism and modernity. Petros installs photographs, moving images, sculptural objects, and sound work according to performative, painterly, or site responsive logics.

Petros has participated in national and international exhibitions in solo and group shows including Bamako Biennale, (Bamako, Mali); Prospect.4, (New Orleans, LA); Royal Ontario Museum, (Toronto, ON) among others. His work is held in public and private collections. Dawit L. Petros is represented by Tiwani Contemporary in London, UK. He is an Assistant Professor of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Exhibitions at The Power Plant
Upcoming: Winter 2020 Season

Thomas J. Price (b. London, UK, 1981) is a London-based artist whose work across media, encompassing sculpture, film and photography, is engaged with issues of representation and perception, in society and in art. His works all share a fascination with the minutiae of body language, facial expression and external presentation, and in turn, their ability to suggest a state of mind.

Selected solo exhibitions have been held at prestigious institutions including the National Portrait Gallery (London), Royal Academy of Arts (London), Mac Birmingham (UK), Royal College of Art (London), Yorkshire Sculpture Park (UK), Harewood House (UK) and Hales Gallery (London). Price’s work has also been included in shows in the US and Europe. Price's work is included in a number of private and public collections including Derwent London (UK), Murderme (UK) and the Rennie Collection (Canada). Price lives and works in London.

Exhibitions at The Power Plant
Upcoming: Summer 2019 Season

Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa (b. Guatemala City, 1978) works in drawing, performance, sculpture, and video, to explore the entanglement of history and form through the lens of his own displacement during and following Guatemala’s civil war of 1960–96. Borrowing from the languages of folklore, science fiction, and theater, he reframes historical events and protagonists. He is the recipient of an Akademie Schloss Solitude fellowship (2011), a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2012), a DAAD fellowship in Berlin (2015–16), and the 2017 Mies van der Rohe Award. Ramírez-Figueroa lives and works in Berlin and Guatemala City.

Exhibitions at The Power Plant
Upcoming: Winter 2020 Season

Nep Sidhu is an interdisciplinary artist who lives and works in Toronto, ON, Canada. Sidhu’s art practice highlights conceptual and technical components originating from antiquity, with relevance for the present. His primary reference points are sound, language, architecture, and adornment.

Nep Sidhu’s art practice resides along a continuum comprised of conceptual and technical components originating from ancestry, with relevance for the present. His sculptural practice combines language, light-baring materials, and incantation thus creating a third space that unifies endless parallels and possibilities. This work is informed by the interplay of script, textile, the poetic wave of architecture, and an affinity for community.

Ian Wallace (b. 1943) is a poet of images, Wallace explores the interplay between form and content, using photography as a vehicle for developing an avant-garde art that weds the strategies of conceptualism with the pictorial tropes of painting. In doing so since the late 1960s, he became the pioneer of a photoconceptualism that fundamentally influenced and reconfigured contemporary art practice in Vancouver, not least through his teaching such artists as Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Ken Lum and Stan Douglas. Wallace’s art encourages a sophisticated involvement from the viewer. His works awaken the allegorical, symbolic potential of everyday subject matter, investing ostensibly non-eventful scenes with meaning.