What is Art For?

What is art for? Taking risks and looking for ‘essential value’

Art collector J. Tomilson “Tom” Hill III explains why a work’s staying power is more important than its market price.

A presentation at The Art Newspaper’s 25th anniversary celebrations, hosted at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Hill was among those invited to investigate the subject What is Art For? Videos of the different speakers—Glenn Lowry, director of MoMA, Eric Kandel, a Nobel Prize-winning neuro-psychiatrist, James Davis of the Google Cultural Institute, J. Tomilson (“Tom”) Hill III, the collector and president and chief executive of Blackstone Alternative Asset Management, and Lina Lazaar, the founder of Jeddah Art


Interview with Eric Louie

Eric Louie, We Were the Only Ones, oil on canvas, 72 x 90 in.

Virtually Abstract

Interview with Eric Louie

By Chris Keatley

Chris Keatley:  Although you are an abstract painter now, in the past you have dealt with both landscape and portraiture in a fairly traditional way. Are there elements of your landscape and portraiture work that underlay or inform your abstraction?

Eric Louie:  I think most of my paintings refer back to landscape, portraiture and still life in some capacity. For the most part in their sensitivity to space and form in an illusory context.  Although I’m using and developing an abstract language it doesn’t stop me from painting a wide variety of imagined subjects. In some instances I go deep into a scenario with close inspection and complexity while in others I pull back and take things on from a distance. I try to give myself the freedom to paint whatever the painting demands as images emerge and develop.

CK:  You have described your work as Architectural and Planar. These are terms that suggest a construction or building up of your abstract imagery. As you don’t use sketches or preliminary drawings to plan your work, do you feel that the works represent sculptural ideas in the sense that the imagery is built up in an additive way as in the construction of 3-dimensional form?

EL:  There certainly is a sculptural aspect to the work, although what I like is that they don’t have to follow any real world logic or order. Most of these compositions would fall to pieces if they were to be actualized. The fun part is letting them build up and defy gravity like a traditional abstract painting while still acknowledging space rather than flatness. Since I tend to avoid planning and work out the paintings as I go my process takes some time along with a lot of trial and error. I like not knowing how each piece will unfold which is very exciting.

CK:  Jackson Pollock said that each artist utilizes the forms, imagery and techniques that are present and available and reflect the current age, both consciously and unconsciously. To me, your work reflects the contemporary period of computerized architectural programs and digital graphics, specifically through your use of lines, textures, planes and layering, which you utilize to make the final image. To what degree is this a conscious technique?

EL:  I wouldn’t say it’s consciously trying to mimic digital media however it does point towards that in hind sight. I always enjoyed using a quick gestural paint stroke in a controlled shape. Chaos inside something ordered for contrast while seeking out balance at all times. That controlling nature may refer back to a more rigid digital aesthetic. I guess life can seem like that too…total chaos or powerlessness and yet we try to control it and standardize it like a program to feel safe.

CK:  Music and abstract painting have a lot of similarities in that they both attempt to reach the audience through the senses rather than through narrative. I know you are a fan of Techno and Electronic music. Do you see a connection between your paintings and the structure and form of digital music in the way they are ‘built-up’ out of distinct elements?

EL:  In my spare time I enjoy listening to Techno at underground events around Vancouver and the world when I travel. The music form is always evolving at a ferocious pace which I find inspiring. It doesn’t tend to look back with all the momentum and I try to put some of that energy and evolution into my work. I’m sure a lot of the built up elements of that musical form find their way into my paintings. Techno tends to be a really “clean” sounding and dark genre of electronic music which I love. In many ways I do build my paintings like the sounds I love so much.

Chris Keatley is the Director of the Pendulum Gallery in Vancouver.  He is the owner of Keatley Art & Design providing expertise in the incorporation of art into living, working and public spaces. From single works to rotating exhibition programs, K A&D facilitates the sourcing and exhibiting of artworks that stimulate, engage and inspire.

Interview with Anda Kubis


Virtually Abstract

off-site exhibition at the Pendulum Gallery, June 13 – July 9, 2016

Interview with Anda Kubis

By Chris Keatley, Pendulum Gallery


Chris Keatley:  What computer do you use to create your work? 

Anda Kubis:  I work on a Mac Laptop. I use the track pad and don’t even use a mouse. Because I’m at Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) University, I have lots of technology available to me to play with and I’ve used a Wacom Cintiqu and own a Wacom tablet but I don’t like using the pen. Using my fingers feels more like painting – a track pad feels closer to the painting process. I am not a ‘drawer’. I am distinctly a painter and my process is the manipulation the material of paint or pushing pixels of colour around in the digital process. I can’t wait until they make a 3D Wacom tablet that responds to gesture in a large field – I know that they’re doing testing in this area.

CK:  What computer programs do you use?

AK: I primarily use Corel Paint – always the most updated version as they expand the possibilities exponentially with each new version. I also use Photoshop at the end to make formatting decisions as the file sizes get exceptionally large in Corel Paint.  The funniest thing is that Corel Paint tries to mimic painting/high art practices. I find this humourous and like to work with it as I like to make the simulated brushstrokes and jagged edges of the brushstroke obviously visible. It’s great when viewers become confused about the process often thinking the artwork is made by hand.

CK: How do you see the interface of your creativity with the computer’s technical abilities?

AK:  The process of digital painting has really reinvented my practice. It’s allowed for a more experimental side to come through – definitely because I’m using new technology and I have the potential to work on a variation of surfaces but also because the digital is very fast. I do work to slow the process down by making many variations of the same piece until I edit and edit and come to a decision but I enjoy entertaining many options. Painting with oil on canvas, which I still do, is a very linear and additive process. Working digitally is rhizomatic – it grows and evolves in unexpected ways, which I like. I do still think that it’s important to note that I am working back and forth between conventional painting (in oil) alternating it with the digital process. These ways of working are informative and force me to get away from each practice to see things afresh. Again, they allow variety of pace as well.

CK:  Can you explain the process of the output into a printed image or “digital painting”?  Are you involved in the actual printing?

AK:  I used to be very involved with the printing as I used to print at the university (OCAD U) but I love the fact that I can send files to a printer who does the work for me. I did a lot of photography when I was an undergrad and I also worked in a professional photo lab. I was a perfectionist in relation to colour printing. I think that’s one way that I trained my eye for colour. Sending files to a professional printer also allows me to enter the contemporary world where specialized labour can be done by others. I feel like I’m engaged in the real world economy of production. Conversely, there is still a romantic love for hand making artwork by myself in a studio too. I enjoy being very fluid this way but the reality is that the world moves very quickly.

The digital process is fast, mobile and very flexible – it’s a process that’s great for a fast paced life. Obviously, there are many processes where artists are not directly involved in the production of the artwork. This question goes way back to the invention of photography. The remove and/or visibility of the hand has been a question in my work for decades.

CK: Are there variables in the printing process that are part of the creative process of making the work?   Why are the works printed square rather than rectangular as per a computer screen shape?

AK:  There have been many variables in my printing processes as I’ve also printed on glass and intend to print on fabric and silk in the future. When I started out, I made lots of work that was formatted to the scale of the screen. That became too deterministic and uninteresting. These particular works come from a body of work called, “Touch of Unreal”. They were all squares, on canvas and paper, and one can certainly attribute Modernist principals to this work if they wish. My work always continues a conversation with the history of Modern colour-field, formal and minimal painting within the realm of digital technology. Ultimately, I wanted to make square images because I find that it’s difficult to create tension in square compositions. I really like tension. Also, I was making the work for the context of a commercial gallery and was working within those conventions.

The best thing about the digital is that I can do anything with my images. I could wrap them around a form and they have been used for alternative non-art purposes as well. It’s a very excited and creative territory that allows me to engage and/or blur the boundaries between art and design.

Chris Keatley is the Director of the Pendulum Gallery in Vancouver.  He is the owner of Keatley Art & Design providing expertise in the incorporation of art into living, working and public spaces. From single works to rotating exhibition programs, K A&D facilitates the sourcing and exhibiting of artworks that stimulate, engage and inspire.

“Virtually Abstract” at the Pendulum


Elissa Cristall Gallery in collaboration with the Pendulum Gallery, Vancouver, is pleased to present “Virtually Abstract” an exhibition featuring the work of Toronto artist Anda Kubis and Vancouver artist Eric Louie.


5 Artists Shortlisted for the 2016 Sobey Art Award

The winner, to be announced in November, will take home a $50,000 prize, with each of the remaining four finalists receiving $10,000.

Today, the Sobey Art Award revealed its shortlist of five artists from coast to coast:

William Robinson, Brutalist Song I, 2014. Installation view at Confederation Centre Art Gallery. Photo: Adrienna Metzag.

From the Atlantic: William Robinson (Halifax)


Jeremy Shaw, Quickeners, 2014. Film still.

From the West Coast and the Yukon: Jeremy Shaw (Vancouver and Berlin)


Brenda Draney, Tent, 2013. Courtesy Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre. Photo: Sarah Fuller.

From the Prairies and the North: Brenda Draney (Edmonton)


Charles Stankievech, Monument as Ruin, 2011–14. Collection Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

From Ontario: Charles Stankievech (Toronto)


Hajra Waheed, The Cyphers 1–18, 2016. Installation view at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead. Photo: Colin Davison.

From Quebec: Hajra Waheed (Montreal)

Canadian Art

Tom Thomson: Life & Work

TomThomson Nov2015Art Canada Institute / Institut de l’art canadien   
announces the publication of

Tom Thomson: Life & Work
by David P. Silcox

One of the most influential Canadian artists of the early twentieth century, Thomson (1877–1917) is recognized for his iconic images of the wilderness and as a forerunner of the Group of Seven. His tragic death at Canoe Lake remains a national mystery.  Read the Free on-line art book