Take Hold

Stephen Andrews

in conjunction with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
May 3 - June 1, 2019

Take Hold
Take Hold
Take Hold
Take Hold
Mois au Louvre
from A small part of something larger
Take Hold
from Dissolves
Take Hold
Take Hold
Vine ghost
Tree at night
Magic hour
Ponta Delgada
Take Hold
Toy boat in a flood
Toy Boat
Father and son, toy boat and dandelion
Take Hold
Painting for a small boy’s room
Father and son, toy boat and dandelion study

Take Hold

Take Hold , 2019
installation view

Take Hold is a concise 25-year survey of work by Toronto-based artist Stephen Andrews. The exhibition explores the relationship of photographic sources to the artist’s work in drawing, painting, printmaking and video, and considers how the generations of remove from the 'original', as an idea captured in a photograph, is further shaped in other media.

Says Andrews, “the various ‘looks’ of mechanical reproduction, be they digital, the dot matrix in photographic reproduction, film or television technologies are rendered by hand in an attempt to represent both the message and the means by which it is delivered. Picturing these filters articulates the distance from which we view the world. […] In some of my own photos that I have used as source material for paintings or drawings I have sometimes found something missing, whether it is lighting or something off compositionally, and the images exist only as paintings or drawings. As with all my rules though they get broken from time to time and I now find it interesting that the meanings of a particular image can take on different associations depending on the medium it is rendered in, be it photographic or paint.”

From a chronological standpoint the exhibition begins with a series of black and white untitled Polaroids that were taken in 1993 and then implemented as a visual source for the images reproduced as aquatints in the work Safe. The eleven prints, or signatures (since a few of these sets were hand-bound into book form), have been laid out in a non-sequential manner save for the frontispiece, text and end notes which are placed at the beginning, middle and end of the installed works. We are otherwise presented with a formal dispersion of images, equally reflected in the salon-style hanging of the framed Polaroids, with the bracketed titles of the Polaroids adding another layer of information to the work. A bound copy of Safe is available for viewing on request.

Continuing in a chronological manner we have Niagara Falls, based on a true story (2000), a film strip-style diptych etching with clear laminate. Inspired by an episode of The Three Stooges, Gents Without Cents (1944), where Curly mentions the words Niagara Falls and Moe responds on cue with the words "Niagara Falls? Slowly I turn, step by step...". Andrews makes a conceptual leap and the view of the Falls in the sequential etchings provides a 180 degree turn away from the Falls to the viewers of the landmark.

In 2001, Andrews produced a series of paintings, A Small Part of Something Larger, which were shown as the inaugural exhibition of PPCA, at 980 Queen St West, in November 2001. Amongst a suite of paintings with a CMYK palette was one rogue black painting depicting a crowd scene, spectators at a concert waving their Bic lighters in a demonstration of solidarity and respect for the performer. The surface is stippled with wax and, viewed at an extreme angle, offers the viewer with a topographical texture that alludes to the bodily presence behind the flickering lights. The painting embraces a play of light and shadow that is found in each work, giving resonance to its title.

In 2012 Andrews was commissioned to produce a new work for the inaugural exhibition of the Ryerson Image Centre. Working with the images from the Black Star Collection, a sweeping eighty-year spread of twentieth century mages from the New York-based photo agency of the same name, Andrews produced Dramatis Personae, a 16mm film, transferred to video, and in 2013 followed up with a related suite of six waterless lithographs, Dissolves, printed at Queen's University with the assistance of master printer Otis Tamasauskis.

The exhibition culminates in the second floor space with photographs and paintings bearing a new subject found in the flood plains of the Toronto Islands and the painting Father and son, toy boat and dandelion, portraying the beauty and the incipient tragedy of flooding and the island tree population.

Stephen Andrews was born in 1956 in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. His work deals with memory, identity, technology and their representations in various media including photography, drawing, animation, painting and ceramics. Over the last twenty five years he has exhibited his work across Canada, the U.S., Brazil, Scotland, France, Italy and Japan, including POV, a fifteen-year survey at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2015). He is represented in collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Belkin Art Gallery, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, the Schwartz Collection, Harvard amongst many others, and corporate art collections including Torys (Toronto), Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt (Toronto), the Royal Bank of Canada, National Bank of Canada, TD Canada Trust and the Bank of Montreal. Andrews is a recipient of the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts (2019).

Take Hold is presented in conjunction with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.