Friday, September 30, 2011

Angell 2011 - 2012

The lovely folks at Angell included me in their annual catalogue, and inside they wrote up a one-pager on me, and included some of my best work from The Barking Wall. It is a really beautiful publication, full of amazing artists that also show at the gallery, and who actually look really look in their bio pics (unless me, I'm a total dork). If you find yourself at Angell, pick up a copy, and check out the work there, where you can find some of this city's finest and cutting edge artists.

Toronto-based emerging artist Brendan George Ko won the Flash Forward Emerging Photographers award in 2011. Still quite young he has an impressively expanding exhibition history, and his work has already attracted attention for its stylistic maturity. The almost rococo beautification of his images borders on morbid obsession, and a tendency to characterize all subjects - whether living or inanimate - in much the same terms, somehow equating them materially, describes the initial gist of his photo-based works.

Ko's art is dark and moody from one angle, but light - both as a symbolic agent and pictorial aspect - is paradoxically the purveyor of the spookily mythical atmosphere we encounter here. From individuals shots as portraits or figures in dramatic contexts, to objects as still life, Ko manages to make them all seem like denizens of the same flash-lit, momentary world.

Ko fuses memories of game-playing and dreamlike fantasies and as a result, his images express a double-edged, troubling sort of insight. The trope of hiding in plain sight is important. Bringing our attention how masking and deceit can produce a clearer metaphoric representation of reality than a blood and guts, existential expression of angst or struggle, his glittery pictures seem to glow intensely. He assembles the incidents of a broken narrative, as in his haunting piece Doreen's Bible, often borrowing stories and incidents from his own life, but altering them so as to become discrete and synchronic objects as much as images in their own right.

Glimmering with the force of having excluded all other possibilities of being, a chandelier shot by Ko as much as a person's face obscured by a nimbus of dazzling light, is rendered as imminent, somehow on the verge of the supernatural.

The problem of belonging, to place or to story, of being and incarnating a vaguely uncanny hybridity are of great weight for Ko. His symbolic phantasmagoria thus engages a Poststructuralist theory in what might otherwise remain a photographic almost expressionist art practice. Double natures and binary realities, both inner and outer, fascinate Ko and provide his point of departure; and in this he doubles his doubling through dialectical action that relies on constant juxtapositions.

Brendan George Ko is still in flux - changing, improving, modifying - but already highly achieved in what he is trying to do, for himself and for us.

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