Thomas Chisolm

Toronto

Thomas Chisholm: White Paintings (installation view, 2010): Images Courtesy Diaz Contemporary, Toronto. Photos: Toni Hafkenschied.Thomas Chisholm: White Paintings (installation view, 2010): Images Courtesy Diaz Contemporary, Toronto. Photos: Toni Hafkenschied.

By Romas Astrauskas

Thomas Chisolm
Diaz Contemporary
November 25 - December 22, 2010

Space and time, both on their own and particularly in relation to one another, can easily be considered the most compelling, complicated and mysteriously enigmatic of subjects. In this exhibition, Thomas Chisolms’ White Paintings make a valiant effort to shed some light, or expound, upon on these two difficult and wholly abstract themes. The artist’s approach to tackling these topics is not to try and describe his subject, or to literally illustrate it. Rather, it is to create objects that, on their own, conspicuously occupy space and time and, more importantly, draw attention to our existing within said confines.

Thomas Chisholm: no title (White), 2010: Enamel on aluminum. 18 x 18 inches.Thomas Chisholm: no title (White), 2010: Enamel on aluminum. 18 x 18 inches.The exhibition itself, an airy, humble and frankly charming affair, is a suite of uniformly sized paintings on aluminum. All the pieces are 18 x 18 inches, and are executed in more or less the same manner where a thin, wash-like white enamel is applied by brush in lines that together form a weaved, grid-like surface. This weaving of one grid-like pattern on top of another creates a simple, yet distinct illusion of space. Visually, I found myself falling into the paintings, sinking into their shallow depths until reaching the aluminum ground where I then felt repelled or reflected back out of the work and into the space in which I was standing and the painting itself resided. This spatial self-awareness, which is triggered by the paintings, is the key to their success. The paintings behave not as an illusory window into another world, but as a concrete reminder of the world in which we already exist.

Time, specifically as it relates to paintings, is another interesting subject that is breached in the work. The paintings each appear to have been produced in a single session in what was seemingly, and most likely a prompt, cursory manner. It’s a somewhat literal display, and a reminder of the time spent by the artist creating the work, how it was made in a specific time and how it now exists for all time, frozen in a previous moment, the chasm between when it was made and how it now exists ever-increasing. Through and across time, people change as does the world itself, but paintings stay the same. They are bookmarks of a page to which to we can never return, and yet still have the power to confirm for us the reality of the present.

Romas AstrauskasRomas Astrauskas is a Toronto-based artist and writer. His paintings, sculptures and collages have been exhibited widely throughout the city, including shows at Greener Pastures, Clark & Faria, Clint Roenisch and LE Gallery.