Pica: From the insubordinate Gardens

October 14 to 28

Opening:   Saturday  October 17,  3-5PM

Insubordinate sead 1

The paradoxical nature of gardens - that they are both wild and cultivated,  or in the artist’s words, “insubordinate” and “subordinate” - is the central concept behind Teodora Pica’s new series of acrylic and mixed-media paintings. Not only does she focus on this contrast though, she also evokes the mysterious mood of what inspired her paintings: the exotic Jibou Botanical Garden in Transylvania.

Amidst the rolling green hills and fields of Transylvania, dotted with terra cotta-coloured roofs and the sun-bleached white brick houses they top, stands a former castle now serving as the artist-in-residency where Pica completed a two-week stay. Surrounding the castle is the Jibou Botanical Garden – an exotic oasis of flora ranging from a bed of cacti, to a herbarium, to a Japanese garden. Imported as well as local plant species growing freely outside and in greenhouses juxtapose the wild and the manicured.

This natural versus cultivated contrast, which Pica deems “insubordinate” versus “subordinate,” serves as the conceptual anchor for a new series of acrylic and mixed-media paintings she created back in her Toronto studio. The artworks depict mysterious flora and seeds bursting with “insubordinate” painterly energy. Displayed like herbaria (preserved plant specimens), that is, as central images on white paper, her fantastical collection of plants and seeds stands equally as a testament of the flora’s “subordination” to orderly display and of the artist’s memory of the gardens. In other words Pica interprets her theme both literally and abstractedly; while she directly illustrates contrast, she grants equal focus to evoking the essential mood of the Jibou gardens.

Take for one instance a series of four small paintings in which bold, jagged outlines render seeds that sprout wings. The wings symbolize nascent unbridled growth, as stressed by the loose painting and scratched over delineations that render them. Simultaneously, their clean, spare compositions reflect the conscious, careful organization of a garden. As Pica wryly observes, plants “become subordinate when put in artworks.”

Here the artist implies that gardener and garden work together as a metaphor for the artist and the dilemma she faces in attaining that elusive ideal image: whether she should carefully, consciously control it, or whether she should let it take its own spontaneous course. The image, confined by the shape of the paper, the limitations of the media, and the standard rules of composition, struggles for its freedom. Ultimately, “insubordination” allows the image to bloom to its highest potential of beauty, as these splendidly uninhibited paintings perfectly demonstrate.

- Earl Miller - independent curator

Bridging Communities - a series of mixed media works on wood panel

Ian PL - Beings 2010-2012 an exhibition of paintings and drawings


June 02 -16

 OPENING  June 02    3-6pm


Ian PL - Beings 2010-2012 10"x8" ink on clay board

TeodoraART Gallery (T-ART) welcomes a solo exhibition by emerging teenage artist Ian P.L.. The show is comprised of artworks completed in 2010 through 2012. Mediums range from paper to clay boards and include brushwork with India ink, pen work, and acrylics. The goal of the exhibition is to illustrate imaginary beings as well as the abstract environments in which they interweave. The works capture still moments of excitement and exuberance as they include expressive figures to illustrate emotions. The exhibition can succinctly be described as an exploration or a curiosity-inducing experiment.

Ian’s P.L. Statement:            The predominant theme throughout my work is the feeling of the life's energy. The artworks portray creatures and environments that are in a state of exultance. They are embodied through an iris that reveals a flash point in which there is neither growth nor deterioration. My choice of depicting mostly animalistic beings is formulated through the use of various graphic motives and patterns. The depiction of animalistic forms is a gateway through which I can directly portray emotion and mood. By manipulating the shape of a creature’s feature, I look to subtly convey a revealing feeling to the viewer and subsequently reinforce it with color or just render it in black and white. I also find it to be effective to illustrate emotions and moods in images of nonhuman figures as it avoids the subconscious harsh judgment that occurs when humans encounter or observe feelings expressed by those that resemble their own species. Animal like beings provide potential for expressions of emotion, however, they also retain a suitable distance from the viewer’s kind that generates mystery and ambiguity.
My work has no overall message that might provoke thoughts of painful straggles or teenage revolt; rather, allows for discovery and a sense of the interaction between my personal life observations and my imagination.


Ian PL Being 2010-2012 10"x8" ink and acrylic on clay board

Pulsating and Feral: Plowed Fields by ALI BASIEDJI

APRIL 28  to  MAY 26, 2012

Teodora Art Gallery is pleased to showcase an exhibition of landscapes by gallery artist Ali Basiedji.  A fascinating collection of oil paintings created in plein air depicting the fields of Northern Ontario will be displayed  at the gallery until May 26. The artist presents large scale vistas of plowed fields as well as  spontaneous oil sketches of details of nature. Small paintings will be displayed  in a friendly Salon des Artistes type setting.

You are cordially invited to meet the artist and participate at the following events:

Opening reception - Saturday April  28 from 4 to 7 pm

Exhibition and opening pictures 

Art Talk and Coffee - Thursday May 17, 6 to 9 pm


Exhibition and Catalog Essay:

As Ali Basiedji’s exhibition title indicates, "Pulsating and Feral: Plowed Fields" comprises expressionistic oil paintings of fields, which are paradoxically cultivated yet untamed, potentially bountiful yet empty.

Come springtime Ali Basiedji eagerly anticipates painting because he only works en plein air. First-hand observation is paramount; nothing is reworked or copied in the studio, meaning he will return for as many as four to five daylong sessions. His paintings bespeak the immediacy of experiencing subjects he is passionate about, and they assert that painting, as Jackson Pollock demonstrated, should reflect the actions of the moment. Similarly, Basiedji likens painting to “thinking aloud, with the process continuing until I hit something.”

Driving around in the Ontario countryside to locate a painting site, Basiedji stops when he witnesses “the right feel, energy and mystery.”  Interestingly, his portraits, which aren’t included in this exhibition, involve a comparable quest for subject:  he chooses his sitters, none who are professional models, by confidently approaching strangers he wishes to pose for him.

Portraits or landscapes, Basiedji paints with a consistent muscular physicality, either solely with a palette knife or with brush and knife combined. Canvas would succumb to the palette knife’s slashes. Accordingly, he paints on board covered with nine sanded layers of gesso and other primers, exposed at points in his paintings, thus adding a certain visceral grittiness and defining his paintings by what he leaves out as well as by what he includes. In fact, he will scratch into the board. At times, he will paint with implements found where he paints landscapes: twigs, leaves, grass, wood, or stones. Though most importantly, he paints with proudly conspicuous, dance-animated brush and knife strokes.

Basiedji’s painting maintains insightful sensitivity to the particular energy a site emanates; in some works, 49-0896 pf. (Cat. 34), for example, a wind-like motion traverses it via the magnetic pull of well-placed strokes. Here and elsewhere, Basiedji paints in skewed perspectives - angular, wonky compositions showing the right amount of action to capture the fields’ “feral” essence.  After all, Basiedji stresses that painting to him is about “instability;” that is to say, life is about constant movement, and painting embodies that state of flux.

To dramatically stress expanses of “feral” fields, Basiedji often paints from a worm’s eye view, as in 8-0855 pf. Brown, Pink (Cat. 32), which depicts a sweeping, left-tilted field. Such a view makes the fields appear sublimely vast. Forceful curved and then linear strokes draw viewers to the centre of the treeline in the far background.

Depending on his response to a site, Basiedji may abstract imagery, applying thicker colour and looser strokes, as he does in 53-0900 pf. E.B. (Cat. 6), in which he loosely weaves a field of rapidfire brown, green, and lavender marks into an abstract quilt of a composition that he backs with a just vaguely discernible structure – a house or some other kind of building. Wittily summing up what this abstraction and his more representational paintings hold in common, he remarks, “While I don’t aspire to paint highly realistically, I do want a realistic indication of how it felt to me.”

Some paintings are comparatively pastoral, for instance, 46-0892 pf. rah. (Cat. 21) with a horse proudly staring front and centre as if posing. Yet these calmer works do involve some bold artistic chance taking with colour and texture. Basiedji risks committing the so-called faux pas of clashing purple with green; he succeeds to great effect, both here and elsewhere. Equally risky is his quick switch from the animated paint handling in the foreground and middle ground to quieter patches of lightly clouded sky.

Along with juxtaposing the peaceful with the exuberant, Basiedji exhibits works implying celebration beside those evoking sadness. 46-0892 pf. rah. (Cat.21) is ultimately a joyous work: He renders the leaves and branches of three prominent trees in snappy zig zags of light greens, oranges and purples that float away from their arbor anchor like parade confetti. On the other hand, in 41-0888 Melancholic Fallow (Cat. 2), five dark, bare trees form a stark compositional focal point. They stand guard before a shadowy forest and the pathetic fallacy of a wintry grey Canadian sky.

Ali Basiedji’s definition of his subjects undoubtedly “changes with the day and setting.” However, what remains steady is his passion for them, which is conspicuous in every mark he makes. His “feral” farmer’s fields pulsate – they come alive. Looking at his paintings, one can smell the fresh cut hay and feel the gentle tickle of wild grass on the cheek.


Earl Miller, March 2012

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