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Indepth Arts News:

"Jim Cooke and Sylvie Readman"
2004-07-07 until 2004-09-12
Tatar Gallery
Toronto, ON, CA Canada

The Tatar Gallery presents an exhibition of works by Jim Cooke and Sylvie Readman. Cooke and Readman compliment each other exceptionally well, as if they were meant to be exhibited together. The landscapes presented in these works are both familiar and strange. They capture your imagination as well as your memory, and leave you with mixed feelings of bittersweet relief and regret, as if you, too, have visited this place in dreams and cannot return.

Inspired by his upbringing in the English town of Coventry, Jim Cooke shifts his focus in a new collection of works at the Tatar Gallery from his usual fascination with monuments of Arcadian beauty to those of a more personal Arcadia – his own childhood in England’s industrial midlands. In the forward to his book, Re-Placing Arcadia, Cooke pays tribute to those that have inspired his vision from the precision photography of Charles Sheeler to Stephen Shore, Toshio Shibata and celebrated Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky among others.  Cement Series, taken over a year-long period at a Rugby Cement factory, are an epic tribute to the monumental architecture built around a failed economic promise.

Using and 8 x 10 camera, these large-format, colour-saturated photographs document the last days of the factory, and capture their subjects in meticulous, archaeological detail. Cooke’s is a documenter’s view, an outsider’s view, despite his deeply personal connection to the landscape of factory life. His work expresses this ironic inner conflict, evoking contrasting emotions of relief and regret – relief at his deliverance from a working-class existence, yet regret at the distance that this places between him and his past. Nevertheless, it is this distance that allows him to see with such clarity. A respectful objectivity accompanies the intense emotion of these works. Cement Series reveals Cooke as a talented guide through a world both foreign and familiar.

This sense of familiar distance is equally present in the work of Quebec photographer Sylvie Readman, whose exhibit, Point de Fusion, accompanies Cooke’s. For Readman, photography is a language, and Point de Fusion is a beautiful investigation into the processes of this language. Readman strives to detach the medium of artistic representation from the represented subject, in an attempt to make an “observation of the photographic language from within.” These minimalist, black and white photographs are produced through various photographic techniques: lengthy exposures are combined with multiple exposures on a single negative to create a dreamlike quality. Point de Fusion, like Cooke’s Cement Series, is also a tribute to the monuments of our world. These works focus on simple, geometric buildings which stand, isolated along the horizon line. The images themselves possess a fluid, nearly transparent dynamism, which "withdraws familiarity" from images that are as recognizable as a recurring dream.

Jim Cooke
Grey - Rugby Cement, 2000
40" x 50"
Edition of 5
Signed, titled, dated and editioned au verso

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