SEAN JENA TAAL
In this new group exhibition, Norberg Hall presents work by artists based across Canada who interrogate the human relationship to nature. Through painting, drawing, collage and sculpture on a small and large scale, artists Stanzie Tooth, Sean Jena Taal, Marigold Santos, Sondra Meszaros, Zachari Logan, Yvonne Kustec, Jude Griebel, Laura Findlay and Robin Arseneault re-envision human interaction and the ecological world through our presence. Reflecting themes of mortality, rebirth, growth, hope and metamorphosis Natural Surroundings seeks to offer a symbiotic response to the complex divide we live in the Anthropocene. Each artist weaves together human and non-human existence reimagining present and future global potentials of a hybrid living world.
The human figure surfaces in many manifestations throughout Natural Surroundings whether it be literal, imagined, or metaphysical. The viewer finds fresh narratives that reposition the body within the environment.
Calgary based artist Sean Jena Taal’s Daedalian graphite drawings highlight an elusive tension created between humans and a subterranean ecoverse. These natural forms take shape in dark and moist areas like caves and hot springs found throughout the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. The caves in the Rockies are all contained in carbonate rock, of the Paleozoic Era (540-258 million years ago). Stalactites thus act as timekeepers, the calcite deposits resembling the rings in a tree. Spectral and mystical they suggest a concept of time outside of human understanding, the artist’s work speaking to the bedrock of history within the human body as integral to that of the earth itself.
Landscape and figurative representation have played a pivotal role throughout Toronto artist Stanzie Tooth’s creative practice. Commenting on her shifting sense of place, her depictions of the human figure often materialized as the absence of pigment or as if they were dissolving into their surroundings whether influenced by the forests of her youth growing up in rural Ontario or the European city scapes of her later years.
With the onset of the pandemic and the birth of her son Tooth was forced to renegotiate her identity as a new mother and professional artist. Figures are depicted using a monochrome palette of black, white and grey set against a luscious and verdant forested tapestry of bright tones. Marking a striking evolution, the paintings move beyond disorientation and immersion to boldly delineate feelings of reciprocity, understanding and the intricate beauty of newness in life as a mother.
Zachari Logan embraces his Prairie Queer identity through an aesthetic of the Saskatchewan ditch. He describes this roadside repository of weeds as a liminal space rich with possibilities for the interpretation and celebration of the other. It is within this space that Logan locates the organic matter that populate his drawings and ceramics. Employing a process, he calls rewilding the body the artist integrates himself with what he has sourced blooming and growing along the verge. Through figurative representation Logan has located the potential for communicating the complexities surrounding gender, sexuality, class and identity. He is keenly drawn to the ways the body is found in, merging with and dividing away from the landscape as it relates to Saskatchewan ditches and the weeds that grow within them.
Throughout the exhibition, the natural arises in unexpected ways offering an opportunity to contemplate the aliveness of our ecosystems, from the minutia of life to the ancient chasms of time.