On Jan. 14, Partners in Art teamed up with Hot Docs to present Beyond the Visible: Hilma af Klint, followed by a panel discussion that tackled the question “Does gender impact the value of art?”. With over 350 in attendance, the audience enjoyed the film that explored the confident, spiritualist practice of af Klint, an artist that was notoriously under-exhibited and under-appreciated in her lifetime, yet she posthumously achieved the highest attended exhibition ever at the Guggenheim in 2018.
The film explored why Hilma was overlooked as the pioneer abstract artist in the early 1900s, but also detailed her political, religious, and familial leanings which aided in the creation of her seemingly meta-physical paintings. Many enjoyed the anecdotes of af Klint’s family members who were interviewed in the film; they detailed how unshakeable the artist was in her pursuits, and her assuredness that her life’s work should remain together, as a body of work passed down and protected by her nephew. Panelists Sara Angel, Shary Boyle, and Georgiana Uhlyarik explored the complicated question of gender in the arts, and presented many thoughtful insights, including the praise of af Klint for side-stepping the western, patriarchal framework and redefining how a woman should live in the early 20th century. Shary Boyle suggested af Klint “won” because she lived her life freely and controlled her artist practice outside of financial and patriarchal constraints.
On Jan. 17 PIA also toured the Gladstone Hotel’s annual, site-specific exhibition Come Up To My Room. Members explored the the four levels of the hotel, which mounted over 30 artist installations in the acclaimed space. Curators of the exhibition and exhibition director Lee Petrie led members room to room, detailing the impetus and concepts behind various projects. Some highlights included Darian Goldin Stahl’s installation of waxed-silk sculptures that depicted imagery from her health and humanities studies, specifically displaying a narrative of her sister’s battle with infertility. Members also enjoyed the studio of Dennis Lin, who also participated in the first annual Come Up to My Room show. Lin’s work utilizes organic materials, wood, dirt, mulch, but also incorporates cast bronze as his primary medium. Inspired by his everyday life, Lin’s work included imagery from a car crash that he described as “morbid but beautiful”.
Later in the month on Jan. 24, PIA enjoyed a Guerilla Education at Susan Hobbs gallery, with an exhibition tour led by artist Katie Bethune-Leaman. The artist generously explained her intricate thought process that went into making her exhibition which was selected by ArtForum as a “must-see”. The exhibition title La douche écossaise, translates directly to a Scottish Bath, referencing a hydrotherapy practice of standing under alternating hot and cold streams of water. Tiptoeing the lines between the grotesque and the beautiful, the hand-crafted and the mass-produced, the artist utilizes a range of materials, colours and textures that appear to be aesthetically at odds with one another. Much of the exhibition recalls organic objects, or distorted parts of the human body: a tongue, an ear, a pickle, and lots of mother of pearl. The artist explains her interest in the uncanny as something that comes from her desire to generate tension through associative opposites.