Flavio Trevisan: Studies of a New Past

Toronto

A Culmination (2008): Flavio Trevisan: A Culmination, 2008, millboard and drywall compound on plywood, 48 × 31 × 1¼. Images: Photos: Toni Hafkenscheid. Courtesy the artist and Diaz Contemporary, Toronto.Flavio Trevisan: A Culmination, 2008. Millboard and drywall compound on plywood, 48 × 31 × 1¼. Images: Photos: Toni Hafkenscheid. Courtesy the artist and Diaz Contemporary, Toronto.

By Carolyn Tripp

Flavio Trevisan: Studies of a New Past
Diaz Contemporary
July 8 - August 14, 2010

In his latest exhibition of two-dimensional sculptural pieces, artist Flavio Trevisan has meticulously executed renderings of Toronto maps sans topography and buildings, focusing exclusively on the roads, highways and side streets of our fair city.

Trevisan employs a variety of materials in his process — drywall, mdf and house paint — and cuts ultra-thin pieces of wood and other hard board, meticulously laying them out on firm, flat surfaces as they would appear on a road atlas. Paint and other liquid materials are applied in between the spaces created by these roads, making the positive space gently slope from line to line. Other maps are created through carving, as opposed to building upon a flat surface.

Grey Area (2009): Flavio Trevisan: Grey Area, 2009, millboard and drywall compound on plywood, 56 x 118 x 1½ inches.Flavio Trevisan: Grey Area, 2009. Millboard and drywall compound on plywood, 56 x 118 x 1½ inches.The pieces have the effect of relief, with the tiny strips of each road as the “tallest” portion of each piece. This anoints them with a new sort of topographical importance. There are no hills, grass, buildings or skyscrapers in any of these pieces: only the promise of a blank white, yellow, blue, or black slate as one beholds what used to be a map of a city, but is now a memory of a map of some place that once had a name.

As the studies of this “new past” emerge, one can’t help feeling that they possess apocalyptic undertones because of what is omitted. There’s a disconcerting exclusion of humankind, while the remains of humanity’s existence is clearly felt in the roads it once traveled. The arteries remain, but there is no pulse. Between these roads, there is only the placid texture of an existence razed to the ground, with no markers or signs to assume the journey one could have, or would have taken through these winding avenues. And, although this destruction infers something in the distant future, the tactility of these sculptures places them before an age where the use of GPS and WiFi was an every day occurrence.

Making flat roadways the basis of one’s art practice may seem a superficial gesture at first, conveying a bland landscape of never-ending concrete and asphalt. However, Trevisan’s work reveals a stunning process by which the omission of secondary shapes — lawns, houses and office towers — reveals its depth precisely in what it does not convey: us.

Carolyn TrippCarolyn Tripp is a Toronto-based artist and writer whose work has been featured at the Contact Photography Festival (Contacting Toronto), the Gladstone Hotel (upArt), the Centre for Culture and Leisure No. 1 and the Toronto Urban Film Festival. She has been published in Eye Weekly, Broken Pencil, and Spacing and C Magazines.