Curatorial Conversations: Keeping it Real


It’s time for another instalment of Curatorial Conversations, where we pick the brain of SG Curator Olex Wlasenko. The first show in the summer exhibitions lineup is Keeping it Real, an exhibition of high realism paintings by artists who are either Durham Region-based or have strong connections to our community. We asked Olex a few questions about how this exhibition (which runs June 2 – July 10, 2016) came to be.

Tell us a little bit about Keeping it Real. How did this exhibition come together?

OW: This was a wish-list group show for many years. I kept seeing extraordinary examples of high-realism in juried shows, art expos and our own annual member exhibits here at SG. I noticed there was a strong regional link connecting the artists who created these exquisite works. And now the moment has finally arrived! Keeping it Real connects the dots between artists in our area who are incredibly skilled and who paint highly-polished representational subject matter.

Keeping it Real is a group exhibition, featuring the work of eight artists (Ian Bodnaryk, Neville Clark, Shaun Downey, Diane Huson, Sue Miller, Catherine Mills, Allan O’Marra and Albert Slark). What is it like to curate a large exhibition like this?

OW: It’s exhilarating to work with a cogent theme, particularly if there’s a personal admiration for what each artist is doing in the studio. Each artist in Keeping it Real has a deep devotion to representation and realism. At the same time that we enjoy seeing similarities and making comparisons, group exhibitions afford viewers the opportunity to see how diverse and unique each individual studio practice can be. This show explores vast pictorial spaces: trompe-l’oeil (French for ‘deceive the eye’), figuration & portraiture, illustration, observational still-life and lens-inspired photo realism. In this group exhibit, we see the full spectrum that realism has to offer in contemporary culture.

What made you want to put together an exhibition of high realism?

OW: Abstraction has a deep history in this area since the formation of the Painters Eleven in 1953 (our friends at the RMG in Oshawa hold the largest collection in Canada). Running parallel with non-representational movements, the Durham Region is also home to celebrated realist artists. Keeping it Real adds to this celebration!

Join Olex for a free Walk & Talk of Keeping it Real on Thursday, June 16 at 7 pm at SG

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