"Hydroponics" - December 2011

"Hydroponics" - December 2011

A solo exhibition by Teodora Pica opens at Teodora ART, a new gallery of Canadian and international contemporary art defined by its experimental approach, its collaborative projects, and ensuing artistic dialogue.

Exhibition: December 10, 2011 to January 28, 2012
Opening: Saturday  December 10 , 4:00pm to 8:00pm
TeodoraART’s opening in Toronto’s Yorkville gallery district, in a newly  renovated space with a cool minimalist interior designed for the optimum display of art, signals an innovative approach to gallery exhibition: a mix of solo and collaborative shows alongside an open studio where gallery visitors can see work in progress.

TeodoraART opens with Teodora Pica’s solo exhibition, Hydroponics, three related series of drawings and paintings created in the artist’s “hydroponics lab.”  In this artistic laboratory Pica uses a “hydroponics kit” to grow “mood flowers” through a combination of light, water and nutrients regulated by the artist’s creative moods. Pica symbolically represents this nurturing environment for moods and emotions in her brash, exuberant floral- and sun- inspired pieces.

The key symbolic motif is the sun.  Pica draws inspiration from the sun symbol’s primeval roots, from its universalism that bridges diverse cultures, and from its tradition as an architectural and artistic motif in her native Transylvania. The sun, consequently, acts as a conduit between its Old World heritage and its contemporary relevance - between past and present.  Pica depicts the sun symbols as standardized circles with six concentric rays. However, the integration of these symbols into her work is not so simple. The sun merges with floral shapes, and petals and rays become interchangeable.
The drawings and paintings hold symbolism beyond that of the sun though; additionally, they represent the hydroponics lab. Both the stark white background of some pieces and the luminous aura circling suns and flowers in others represent the austere yet paradoxically nurturing lab environment. Geometric texture and joyous, passionate colour is the food for growth, the nutrients and water that develop the roots, which Pica depicts as black, organic shapes that she refers to as “sources” for her mood flowers.
The first series are rapid sketches, or “lab experiments”, on paper that depict sun symbols in sharp contrast with shadowy black roots.  Energetic gestural marks delineate bold, graphic red flowers that morph with sun symbols, forming what one could appropriately call sunflowers. These sunflowers sway and dance against a flat white ground. At times the floral forms are cartoon-like hence comical; at other times, they are nearly figurative. In either case, they hold connotations well beyond them simply being flowers and suns. The second series consists of paintings on wooden board that show the “mood flowers” in different stages of growth.  Again, these are high contrast images, which juxtapose bleak, snowy sky-white backdrops against black stem and root shapes. Furthermore, radiant sunflowers rendered in passionate red line sprout from these roots. Then there is the third series, the “Rainbow Hydroponics”: smaller works on canvas abandoning the sun symbol strictly for florals. These rainbow bouquets, bursting out front and centre in the picture plane, are a dense configuration of twisted lines - thickly painted and joyously coloured. Glowing light exudes from the paintings’ top centres - halos above bouquets, which have grown from comparatively pessimistic black roots near the canvases’ bottom edge. A bouquet bathed in the light of optimism.
Hope - the flowers, the sun, the light, and beauty overcoming darkness - is the overriding tone of this exhibition. The lab is a place where promise arises from experimentation in a visual language that conveys moods and emotions without words.  And this sense of hope and the theme of experimentation make this the perfect opening exhibition for Teodora ART gallery.
Teodora Pica is a senior Canadian visual artist residing in Toronto who maintains a studio in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood and a summer atelier in the historic village of Brasov in Transylvania, Romania. She works in painting, sculpture, experimental printmaking and photography. The third generation of a family of artists, she first studied at the Ion Mincu University of Architecture in Bucharest. She obtained a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Toronto School of Architecture and after that, she studied painting and drawing at the Ontario College of Art and Design. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Arts Administration at Goucher College in Baltimore.


Earl Miller  - an independent curator and art writer residing in Toronto.

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