Visiting Artists Exhibition: Roula Partheniou & Shaan Syed

Shaan Syed, Untitled, 2013, screenprint, 36.75” x 25”. Created under the auspices of the Open Studio Visiting Artist Residency, 2013-14.

Roula Partheniou, Construction #4, 2014, screenprint, 25" x 19". Printed by Nadine Bariteau under the auspices of the Open Studio Visiting Artist Residency, 2013-14.

Main Gallery
Visiting Artists Exhibition: Roula Partheniou & Shaan Syed

May 23, 2014 – June 21, 2014

Artist Talk Time: 6:00 - 7:00 PM

Each year Open Studio selects four professional artists with or without printmaking experience to create traditional and/or experimental works in the print medium of their choice, working collaboratively with a print media artist. The Visiting Artist Residency, in operation since 1983, is a popular program that receives applications from artists from around the world. In conjunction with the residency, each artist exhibits the work produced during their period in the Studio, and gives an artist talk. These exhibitions are the result of this intensive work period. Click below to download the accompanying brochure, with essays by Christina Ritchie and Carla Garnet.

Roula Partheniou’s current practice explores the replica and how the remaking of a familiar object can shift our perception and perspective. Making use of visual similes, material puns, colour cues, trompe l’oeil and reductive referents, she deconstructs the familiar in an effort to trigger a reconsideration of common forms. Reproduced to various degrees of verisimilitude her work questions how we see and read objects and challenges the viewer to negotiate between the perceived and the actual.

In keeping with her interest in the replica and material play, her series of prints titled Constructions look to the possibilities inherent in printmaking to mimic torn tape, taped corners, masked shapes, layered vellum and stuck paper. The prints appear as impromptu collages, as work in a preparatory state or partway through a process.  She employs a strategy familiar to her sculptural practice in her use of reductive allusions to material—inferring tape on paper on paper, layered materials and the shallow space of a collage.

Constructions is a series of prints that mimic modest materials that relate to the process of art-making and that push and pull between abstract and referential, formal and practical, austere and provisional. At the threshold between abstraction and representation, the compositions can be read as both abstract minimalist compositions and also as still-life representations of paper and tape.

Partheniou received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Guelph in 2001 and currently lives and works in Toronto. She has exhibited throughout Canada and internationally, with recent exhibitions at MKG127 in Toronto (Canada); The Power Plant in Toronto (Canada); Plug In ICA in Winnipeg (Canada); Museum of Bat Yam (Israel); AHVA Gallery, Vancouver (Canada) and MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts (USA). Her work is held in numerous private collections, in the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives and in the corporate and institutional collections of Munich Re, Bank of Montreal, TD Bank and The University of Toronto. She is represented by MKG127, Toronto Canada.

Shaan Syed is interested in the notion of an iconic absence. For several years, he’s been looking at stages, platforms and landscape as a means to question notions of display and presentation. He is interested in how these and other established systems of looking relate to how we experience colour, space and form, and how they influence the way in which we see ourselves. Using abstract processes to respond to minimalist ideals of purity, his work questions our relationship with the pictorial.

Fruit Milk Shade includes an installation of screenprints involving text and colour gradients on Japanese paper and newsprint. Syed’s text works take his full Islamic name (Shaan Tariq Hassan-Syed) and pair it with the menu from a cheap East London “caf” (Eggs Bacon Beans Chips Burger), a typical offering found aplenty where the artist lives and works. Syed’s gradients use the printing process to refer to the paradox of creating “negative space” through the process of addition, as in printing or painting. Achieving the perfect gradient requires the ink to be mixed directly on the screen before it is pulled through onto the paper. For each of Syed’s gradients, a dozen prints had to be pulled before arriving at the point where the colour appeared perfectly mixed. These newsprint “tests” will rest in piles on plinths, available for the public to take away. Some are near perfect gradients; others are visibly flawed, exposing the process of ink being pulled from one edge of the screen to the other in an attempt at making perfect colour transitions. Others combine two incomplete gradients printed on top of each other. When one newsprint gradient is taken from its pile, another with a different set of colours is revealed. Space, as described by the gradient, is activated by its taking away.

Shaan Syed graduated in 2006 from Goldsmiths College (London UK). He has held solo exhibitions at Ana Cristea Gallery, New York; Birch Libralato, Toronto; Galerie Michael Janssen, Berlin and PlugIn ICA, Winnipeg. Group exhibitions include Jerwood Space, London; Bloomberg Space, London; La Salles de Bains, Lyon; S1 Artspace, Sheffield UK; and Mercer Union, Toronto. Syed is a recent recipient of The Elephant Trust Grant (UK) and The Pollock Krasner Foundation grant for painters (USA). His work can be found in collections including the Doris McCarthy Gallery (University of Toronto), Helabank (Berlin), Royal Bank of Canada (Toronto), Saatchi Collection (London), TD Canada Trust (Toronto), UBS Art Collection (London), and the University of London UK. He will be included in the upcoming Thames and Hudson publication, 100 Painters of Tomorrow due for publishing Fall 2014. Shaan Syed is represented by Birch Contemporary (Toronto) and Galerie Michael Janssen (Berlin).