One of the most basic connections that exists on this planet is the one humans and nature share. However, in a world plagued by violence, poverty, corporate greed, and depletion of resources many of us have lost touch with what this connection truly means. In an attempt to explore this fundamental relationship Navillus Gallery, located at 110 Davenport Rd., is hosting a group exhibit, HUMAN / / NATURE, which features various contemporary Canadian artists works, each having a unique perspective as to what this connection between human and nature means.
The works being featured critique human connections with nature by exploring social and political issues concerning wildlife and the greed of corporations and politicians, while some of the pieces are as simple as drawing on past personal experiences with nature. At the end of the day, each piece is as telling and powerful as the last.
Addicted was lucky enough to have the chance to catch up with two of the artists featured in Navillus’ exhibit to find out the meaning and inspirations behind their works for HUMAN / / NATURE.
Tony Taylor is a graduate from OCAD’s drawing and painting program and also has a Master’s in painting from the University of the Arts London in London, England. Taylor’s works often have a significant focus on political events, the G Summit series, and World Economic Forums. Events such as these resemble a gathering of the animal powerhouses from the financial and political jungles where only the wealthy survive. Taylor’s pieces speak volumes about the animalistic nature of corporations, institutions, and international politics as he has chosen to replace the faces of leaders and corporations with those of the animals he believes reflect their true colours.
ADDICTED: Many of your paintings have to do with one common theme, and that is the notion of political corruption, corporate greed and so on. Can you explain how you’ve portrayed that in your works here today? And what do you each of the animals symbolize and represent?
TAYLOR: For the ones in this exhibit I’ve got Rob and Doug Ford as racoons to symbolize their scavenging nature. They may have said they were cutting the gravy train, but it’s more like stealing from somewhere to put it somewhere else. And I chose the puffer fish for Rob Ford as another one just because he was in trouble for “puffing” so as to speak, which was also very toxic for the city.
ADDICTED: When it comes to social, political and economic issues such as the ones that are represented in your work – why do you think art is such an important medium to convey these notions and spark discussion?
TAYLOR: I think visual art has done a lot throughout history, even more than words sometimes, and certain images really echo through time and they summarize moments or events. I think visually that`s my strength and I wanted to be able to try and create something that might summarize historical moments. We`re also told what to believe a lot of the time and I wanted to always question it [what we`re told], and for me the best way to question it is to always have conversations with your peers and I found through my art I could sort of start that conversation.
Daniel St-Amant received his DEC of Fine Arts in painting from Champlain College, majored in Fine Art at Nova Scotia College of Art Design, and has a diploma from Seneca College at York University in Visual Effects for Film and Television. St-Amant`s work examines issues surrounding our environment and the destruction and consumption of our resources, which in turn is affecting the species that exist around us.
ADDICTED: Your works here today have to do with our world`s demands on our natural environment, depletion of resources etc. Can you explain why you chose to focus on these issues to explore the connection between human and nature?
ST-AMANT: There are all kinds of issues in the world such poverty and war, and for us being Canadians, considering where we`re from, environmental issues probably hit home the most. We`re disrupting the natural world and animals are forced to live within our environment instead of us living amongst their environment and trying to adapt to them. Other environmental issues keep popping up, too, such as global warming, oil, pipelines, all kinds of terrible things. And so, I think artists have a responsibility to discuss social issues that are important and that brings things to life in front of people so they can really see it.
ADDICTED: On that note, why do you choose visual art over other mediums as a way of expressing your social concerns over the environment?
ST-AMANT: I think it`s because it`s so instantaneous. Visually, you see it and you understand it. It`s easier than sitting down and reading some sort of social commentary or reading a paper – it hits you in the face and you either get it or you don`t and visual language is very easy to depict ideas. My art, in particular, is super recognizable. The subjects always look a little off, it`s not like a Robert Bateman painting where it`s just a beautiful natural landscape, there`s a contemporary feel. Visually it sparks a narrative that I want you to have and I think painting is the best way to do it.
Sure to invoke conversations amongst friends, HUMAN / / NATURE was a delight and featured some truly and uniquely talented Canadian artists. And although you may have missed the opening, HUMAN / / NATURE will be running until April 4.
Below are several more works featured at Navillus Gallery for the HUMAN / / NATURE group exhibit.