SIX SHOOTER QUEEN STREET GALLERY 2006-2008
LOUISE UPPERTON & KRISTINA BIRKHANS : RIVERDALE ART WALK
1118 Queen St. E. Call 416.465.2459 for info + hours.
Louise Upperton is known most prominently for her work as the art director and creator of several successful album covers in the indie music scene. She is familiar with straight edges and complementary colours, but she feels most comfortable with floating lines and sullied tones.
Her paintings swell and rise out of spotted canvasses, emerging in solid colours and ghostly hues. They swirl amidst abstract and surreal: old newspaper print, stenciling, blurred images and evidence of gothic beauty. Headless women congregate at a fountain of death, masked girls hover in a blood red sky. It’s Tim Burton in watercolour. It’s Rothko meets Edgar Allen Poe (with a sense of fashion). It’s dark, clever and disturbing, yet hauntingly good and chillingly beautiful.
Louise Upperton was born in the hot desert of Ahmadi, Kuwait, but grew up at the foot of a cold mountain in Calgary, Alberta. Her family later moved to Texas and she ventured east to Ottawa to study many things. After achieving a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications, she became a self-taught visual artist and designer, and now lives and works in Toronto. In the last few years, she has served the indie music scene as the art director for Canadian-based record label, Arts & Crafts. Louise has contributed imagery and design to over a dozen albums including releases by Sarah Slean, Broken Social Scene, Stars, Jason Collett, Apostle of Hustle, the Most Serene Republic and Valley of the Giants. In April 2006, she was nominated for a Juno for CD/DVD Artwork Design of the Year for her work on Broken Social Scene’s self-titled album.
Louise’s work involves meticulous experimentation with the combined techniques of digital image manipulation and layering of organic material – tissue, newsprint, charcoal, ink, watercolour and acrylic. The resulting canvases appear dulled-down and aged, subject to the weathering of time. But the modern process of digital imagery adds a twist to the nostalgic context. Her dark narratives unfold in this no-man’s land a transitional realm of old and new eras, a time-clash between the reality of objects and the impending cyber-reality. Her world is one of shadows and decay, populated by mythical and make-believe creatures, haunting figures in Victorian dress, soot and grime, defunct combination of technology and tools of the dark ages.
Louise describes her work as “specializing in the sinister, antiquated and peculiar.” She cites her deep appreciation for an object’s acquired history as the impetus behind creating relic-like qualities in each piece. By intentionally achieving the appearance of wear-and-tear she gives her canvas history and concurrently, pays homage to that process. “I wanted to create physically – with my hands, and bring texture to the work” without censoring the elements of physical reality (such as dust, drips, scratches and flaws) – and not through the virtual domain so prevalent in our 21st-century lives. By adding a digital transfer or an image of modernity the creation becomes tense – at once familiar and cold, playful but menacing, a mixture of dream and nightmare, machine and man.
In February 2006, Louise’s work was exhibited at Toronto’s SPIN Gallery in a show entitled ‘Bleak House,’ for which she collaborated with friend and Canadian songstress Sarah Slean. She has also participated in the Virigin Threadmarket Event – alongside a number of notable visual artists and fashion designers – in 2004 and 2005.
She continues to experiment with new mediums to explore and redefine “the visual object.” Her influences include Tim Burton, The Brothers Quay, Edward Gorey, Jim Henson, C.S. Lewis, Edgar Allan Poe, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro.
For more info, please visit: louiseupperton.com
Kristina Birkhans is a Latvian-born stained glass artist and teacher living and working in Toronto, Ontario. Her passion for art, healing and self expression make each of her pieces a unique expression of herself and the beauty she sees around her. Kristina was born and educated in Riga, Latvia and now lives and works in the Beaches area of Toronto.
For more info, please visit: www.kristinabirkhans.com
For Media Inquiries, please contact
98038, 970 Queen St. E
Toronto, ON M4M 1J0