In 1915, Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich started a cultural revolution when he painted a single black square and called it art. Malevich described his new style, which he dubbed Suprematism, as deeply spiritual. That four-cornered, imprecisely outlined shape, he explained, offered viewers nothing less than a glimpse of infinity. Almost a century later, “New Meditations,” a group show at Toronto’s Daniel Faria Gallery featuring four exciting young artists, proves that Malevich’s bold statement still holds sway. We asked its curator, Rui Amaral, to give us a tour of the squares.
1. Jessica Eaton
Who: The Saskatchewan-born photographer regularly exhibits throughout North America. In March 2011, Eaton’s work was featured on the cover of the renowned publication Artnews as part of a story on “The New Photography,” and she won the photography prize at the 2012 Hyeres International Festival of Fashion and Photography.
On display: Three 40-inch-by-50-inch images, part of an ongoing series in which Eaton photographs arrangements of black, white, and gray cubes, using experimental techniques including colour separation filters and multiple exposures.
What Amaral says: Eaton’s use of filtered light explores “the possibilities of manipulating time, space, perception, and colour.”
2. Elizabeth Zvonar
Who: Canadian Art magazine called Zvonar’s solo exhibition “On Time” (at the Vancouver Contemporary Art Gallery) one of the best shows of 2010.
On display: Object of Contemplation is constructed from precariously stacked glass and mirrored metal cubes of various sizes. The shape they create is an abstract reference to Albert Einstein’s fourth dimension—the intersection of space and time.
What Amaral says: Zvonar uses “a cubist, minimalist aesthetic language to re-articulate scientific function and meaning.”
3. Derek Liddington
Who: This rising Canadian multi-disciplinary installation artist impressed critics in 2010 with several works of performance art, which explored the parallels between classical and popular music.
On display: If oversized squares could tell a story about how art changed in the last 50 years, it might look like A Love Story Between 3 Squares (1959), the beautiful eight-foot-by-eight-foot mural that Liddington drew in graphite crayon on the Faria Gallery wall during one epic 100-hour sitting.
What Amaral says: “Derek’s work references culturally important moments. The titular 1959 is the year that was deemed the end of modernism.”
4. Jose Dávila
Who: Formally trained as an architect and sculptor, this Mexican-born artist has shown his work everywhere from Madrid to Miami, Bogota to Buffalo. Newsweek called him part of Mexico’s “New Wave.”
On display: Dávila’s two works riff on Malevich acolyte Josef Albers’ famous compositions Homage to the Square. Each features four sheets of glass, positioned horizontally, exactly four centimetres from each other over a single square of colour painted on the Faria Gallery’s wall.
What Amaral says: “Light passing through the glass creates colour tonalities. Dávila transforms Albers’s famous [2-D] series into a three-dimensional sculptural installation.”
“New Meditations” is on at the Daniel Faria Gallery (188 St. Helen’s Ave., #DNW) until Sept. 15. 416-538-1880, danielfariagallery.com.