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Indepth Arts News:

"Landmark: Paintings by John Abrams and Robert Houle"
2002-01-19 until 2002-02-03
Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery
Owen Sound, ON, CA Canada

Landmark includes the work by two important Canadian painters, John Abrams and Robert Houle, who disassemble dispensed myths and histories, fracturing traditional mappings and icons. Ultimately, their paintings are probing examinations that not only question prevailing archetypes of landscape, but lead viewers to interrogate their own methods of looking and reading. They root their imagery in individual histories. They call upon the viewer to reform fragmented stories, fill in pieces to make them their own.

John Abrams and Robert Houle have built their artistic practices around painting aspects of the Canadian imagination. For each, the landscape of Canada has been defined through political association. Issues of identity are solidified through place and history, yet the concepts have been altered. Rather than posting an objectified and legitimizing history, Abrams and Houle propose remembrance as the source of historical associations.

Landmark includes five painting installations (two by Abrams, three by Houle) that are comprised of panels, canvases and graphic elements. Both Houle and Abrams mount their composite paintings in mappings on the museum wall. Houle uses colour-field abstraction and photographic elements in his eloquent compositions. Abrams paints iconic depictions of the landscape and pulls images from Canadian history books in his bill-board scale assemblies of paintings.

John Abrams began exhibiting in 1983 and has shown extensively in Canada and the United states since that time. He has produced a number of commissioned works for film and television and has painted large-scale murals in both Canada and the U.S. Abrams has received several Canada Council B Grants. His work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa; the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston; and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in North York, among others.

Robert Houle holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from the University of Manitoba and a Bachelor of Education in Art Education from McGill University in Montreal. Currently he is an instructor at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. Houle has been exhibiting in group and solo shows, internationally since the mid-1970s. His work has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia; the Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris; and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, among others. In Canada, Houle has exhibited at the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon; the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art; the Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa; the Agnes Etherington Art Centre; the Winnipeg Art Gallery and many more. The artist was the Curator of Indian Art at the National Museum of Man in Ottawa from 1977 to 1980. He is an acclaimed curator, writer and guest lecturer. Houle has been a visiting artist at Hood College, Maryland; Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania; the Heard Museum, Phoenix; the McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinburg; and the Winnipeg Art Gallery, among others. Houle's work is in the collections of most major Canadian museums and galleries including the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery. In 2001, Robert Houle won the Toronto Arts Award, Visual Artist prize.

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