Performers In New Old Historical Landscapes, Adrian Gor (Aug-Sep 2021) – Art Talks at ARTSPLACE

Livestream - Adrian Gor Art Talk, Performers In New Old Historical Landscapes (Aug. 7-Sep. 18, 2021)

ADRIAN GOR’S egg tempera paintings and relief prints recall historical figures of cultural, political, and religious influences from ancient to present times through artistic narratives that include overt subversive symbols of consumerist and patriarchal cultures. However overt the symbols may be, the aesthetic of his compositions straddle between the boundaries of abstraction
and figuration and the levels of depth in pictorial space to render the meaning of the subject matter ambiguous and complex.

His work combines techniques and ideas from Byzantine art and Pop art, to create a balanced relationship between Colour and Form/symbols—which, according to his artistic vision and academic research, helps to better, more overtly address the socio-political aspect of visual art in disseminating ideology. From Byzantine art, he employs the iconographic technique of egg tempera and the frieze composition, and from Pop Art, the use of repetition and printed imagery from consumer goods, mass media, and popular, digital culture.

Gor constructs his pictorial spaces through an interplay of popular and kitschy elements to exhibit a critical and ironic interpretation of various historical figures as performers of ideological expression. Ongoing elements in his work are the shopping cart, the use of gold and mechanical reproduction, the irony against cultural authority, and the Byzantine iconic colour application from black and pure hues towards white—a painting method known as the “light spectrum” for true and revelatory seeing. All these inform the overall look of his narratives, which comment on our identity as individuals and contemporary society as a whole.

Artist Profile - Adrian Gor

  • Headshot of Adian Gor, wearing a blue hat

    Adrian Gor is an Ottawa-based artist working in the Gamman House Studios since 2019, a studio sponsored by the City of Ottawa through the Artist Studio Program (ASP). His artistic work and research combines egg tempera painting, relief printing, and text. He is also a part-time faculty member at Concordia University in Montreal and at the Ottawa School of Art.

    Gor’s artworks encompass theoretical and technical aspects of Byzantine Art in relation to the history of Western visual culture and contemporary art. He has written on the connection between the theology of Byzantine icon and Interactive art (article in Theory, Culture, and Society, SAGE Journals 2019), and has explained how new media artists work with the performative aspect of digital screens to choreograph a participatory experience with artworks and icons.

    His egg-tempera paintings and relief prints are in permanent collections at the Ottawa School of Art and at the Dadian Gallery in Washington, USA. Among the honours he has received are the Purchase Prize Winners, Ottawa International Miniature Print Biennale Exhibition (2020); and Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate (Doctoral) Scholarship, Social Sciences and Humanities, Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada (2011-13). His most recent exhibitions were
    showcased at the Arnica Old Courthouse Artist-Run Center, Kamloops in 2018 and at Alberta Printmakers in 2019.

Artist Statement

We live in a world where images constantly flood our landscape: appearing and disappearing so quickly that they appear to have no meaning or substance. As an artist, I am on a mission to make us stop and really see the themes that define modern life – using ancient icons as the gateway to a new understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.

As a young man, I learned the secrets of painting Byzantine icons on wood panels from monks in my native Bukovina (Romania/Ukraine). I was deeply affected by how people found meaning and solace in the stylized images of Christ and the Saints and wondered if the contemporary world had images that defined our view of the world in the same way.

I turned my gaze away from the past and the Church and traditional iconic imagery, and found there was a new religion defining our lives. My search led me to news headlines, cartoons and comics, shopping malls and consumer culture.

Instead of finding old saints, I discovered that our heroes are pop culture idols fighting against the same old evils of bigotry, greed and ignorance. Instead of scenes of heaven and redemption, I started painting apocalyptic images of a cast that included Drones and Shopping Cart.

By turns shocking, amusing and insightful, my iconography offers a searing commentary on modern life and the gods we have chosen to worship in the 21st century.

– Adrian Gor