A coin in the corner (2014 - ongoing), installation, dimensions variable.
Since the mid-1990s, Toronto-based artist Micah Lexier has often used coins as a means of conveying a sense of time and life’s passage. An early example is the sculpture A work of art in the form of a quantity of coins equal to the number of months of the statistical life expectancy of a child born January 6, 1995 (1995), which consists of 906 copper coins and two metal boxes. One coin represents each month of a life expectancy of 75.5 years. On the sixth day of each month, until July 6, 2070, a coin will be transferred from one box to the other. In the first box, the coins are neatly ordered. In the second, the coins fall where they may, reflecting the random nature of many life events. This monthly transfer is undertaken by staff at the Art Gallery of Ontario, which has the work on permanent display.
Lexier’s project for the Axe Head exchange, A Coin in the Corner (2014 – ongoing), originally commissioned for the survey exhibition of contemporary Canadian art, Oh! Canada at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), is more lighthearted. Consisting of custom-minted coins that picture the means of their display on the face, Lexier’s coins play on the bilingualism of his home country – the French-Canadian word for corner is ‘coin’ – and serve to subtly draw attention to the architecture of the space in which they are installed. At MASS MoCA, 100 coins are situated throughout the galleries, offices and even non-public areas – the museum has kept them as a permanent installation – and visitors are provided with a map of their locations.
Lexier has mounted over 100 solo exhibitions and participated in over 200 group exhibitions in Canada and internationally during his 30+ year career. His practice has embraced virtually every artistic medium, including large-scale text-based installations, dance performances, sculptures, paintings, drawings, photographs, artist book and magazine projects, and multiples. In Toronto, he is represented by Birch Contemporary. A generous and animating force in the Canadian art community, Lexier was a 2015 recipient of a Governor General’s Award, one of the highest honours given to individuals in Canada.
Untitled (2014), Oil paint on paper, 41 x 33 cm.
Joseba Eskubi uses painting, photography, collage and digital techniques to create deceptively contemporary artworks. The soft and diffuse forms that characterize his gestural paintings reconstrue convention through their material quality and resignified spaces. The area on the canvas is generally occupied by a particular, central mass that is supported by a horizon line. The horizontal plane, the relationship between the figure and ground, and the use of old master colour palettes all refer to the traditional genre of "still life". However, the ductile construction and the celebration of the organic and the carnal in his pictures recall contemporary painters like Giorgio Morandi or Francis Bacon, admirers in turn of the great masters of painting.
There is a surreal delight in the work of Joseba Eskubi, a sense of mystery and concern evoked through shadows and mutated entities composed of various twisting textures. With wet and loose brushstrokes, Eskubi gives his compositions contradictory feelings; weight and lightness, firmness and fluidity, realism or fantasy. The pictorial language that they characterize celebrate "painting" in its own material synthesis. In all of his expressions, be they collage or painting on canvas or photography, there is something of a pictorial ritual that looks both toward and from within painting itself. The scenario that frames his figures is not arbitrary or fortuitous, but the space where pictorial gesture is relocated as the protagonist of its own image.
Untitled (2014), presents a figure that seems part rearing horse, part Punchinello. The desire to discern and decipher induces to our eyes to scan the image in search of meaning, trying to find something recognizable in it. A set of strokes firmly establishes a painting that denies the satisfaction of being recognizable or figurative. The work thus opens a door to the knowledge of the unconscious, that amorphous place where our fears and desires are fed.
Joseba Eskubi was born in 1967 in Bilbao, where he is currently a professor of painting at the University of the Basque Country. He has exhibited widely throughout Spain and Europe, including his latest individual exhibitions at the Sala Rekalde (Bilbao) and Gallery Paula Alonso (Madrid). In 2014 the editorial Belleza Infinita published a series of his collages titled “INSOMNIA". This is his first exhibition in Canada.