David Ross Harper

David Ross Harper Michael Schillaci
-he was born in Toronto in 1984
-He received a fine arts degree from the Nova scotia college of Art and Design in 2006. In 2008 he won
the Halifax Mayors Award for visual arts. He was an artist in residence at the art gallery of nova scotia in
2009 and completed an MFA at the art institute of Chicago in 2011.

-he creates sculptures, embroidery, and drawings that explore the relationship of humans and the
natural world. He is interested in the form and the idea of memorials. He is interested In the things that
create links between memory and present experience. He often works with animal skins and researches
and employs traditional craft skills to create detailed works. Within his works he refers to certain
periods, modes of craft, and embellishment that articulate peculiar links to an ordered natural world. He
has a fascination with how people bring facets to these natural systems and objects into domestic
spaces in order to amplify their personal identifications with them, or with the cultures that support
them. There has never been such an obsession with producing sites of rememberene. We’re in an era
where all information has to be recorded, preserved and catalogued; every image shared; every event
commemorated . In parallel, we are in a sanitized era, where everything is polished, where nature is
controlled, contained and cleaned.

-He has had solo-exhibitions including “skin and bone” at the textile museum of Canada in 2010.
And “the last to win” at the stride gallery in Calgary in 2010. He has also exhibited in group shows in
Canada and the U.S. His work is held in the collection of the national gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

-Taxidermy is a technique increasingly used by contemporary artists since the 1990s. This method
helps harper in satisfying his pleasure in controlling wildness, claims the supremacy of culture over
nature, and even celebrates an animals mortality while deferring our own. Taxidermy promises the
-better the devil you know ,however is not. It works in a way as to highlight a contradiction by
presenting a contained and polished, almost monumental image of death. The many arrows surrounding
the animal creates a sense of theatrical drama that allows the sublimation of death. This effort to
embellish mortality is an endevour to cover up our own discomfort regarding everything that is out of
our control and that brings us back to our unavoidable death. The particularity of this piece is tat the
body of the pig has been noticeably altered. Its feet, ears, and mouth have been covered in chinese
porcelain, whichbrings another dimension to the work—of how taxidermy objectifies animals as
decorative artifacts exhibited in peoples homes, often sold as another “made in China” commodity. The
works reference to hunting is not to be disregarded either. In this way, Harpers works have multiple
layers of significance, and it is always up to the viewer to confer them with meaning. For this reason one
inextricably linked to empathy: to erect a monument is to join ones feelings to an object.

-To remind or to warn is part of the Entre le chien et le loup, which means between the wolf and the
dog. Its used to describe a specific time of day, just before the night, when the light is so dim you
distinguish a dog from a wolf. It expresses that limit between the familiar and unknown, the comfortable
and the dangerous, the domestic and the wild. It is an uncertain threshold between hope and fear. In
this piece harper explores the traditions of esoteric orders and secret societies, juxtaposing the nuances
of ritual against the explicit messege of traditional monument. His words consider the idea of order,
whether in mystical terms or in the stuctures we create every day. Speaking to domesticity, spirituality,
nature, and mortality, harper engages the viewer in a dialogue on the metaphoric weight that the
bjects present both historically and emotionally.

-Skin and Bone
-Harper embroiders portraits of people on animal skin, playing on one of the traditional roles of
the trophy from a hunting excursion might be a bear rug or a rack of antlers. These images of
anonymous, victorian era men and women imply an emotional distance that allows the artist to poke at
the slippery slope where nature and culture meet.
-also part of person place thing exhibition

-The last to win is an examination of the term branding and its subtext. Inspired by famous horses that
in death have been mounted to epitomize their former glory, and by the use of the iron brand to mark
their owners tenure. The last to win is both a tribute to, and a critique of, a peculiar cultural history.


Paterson Ewen

William Paterson Ewen was born in 1925 in Montreal, Quebec. He attended McGill University from 1946-47 where he studied geology, and fine arts with John Goodwin Lyman. From 1948-50 he took classes at the School of Art and Design at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Paterson Ewen’s paintings are kin to phenomenological philosophy, in that they spring from a sense of wonder at the things around us and plunge us into insights about the nature of things and ourselves. In many of his works, Ewen seeks to show, in paint and wood, celestial bodies that are out of this world and beyond easy perceptual grasp. In bringing these things down to earth, he illuminates fundamental dimensions of perceptual experience: spatial and temporal scale, movement and our rootedness in place, surface and depth, lighting and the lit.

David Morris has explored the phenomenology of body, mind, life and nature in numerous publications and presentations, with special attention to the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

Ewen’s work, a robust array of abstraction, landscapes and signature cosmic renderings, parallels Schnabel’s in scale  and material enthusiasm.

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A Singapore Contemporary Artist – Zhao Renhui

A Singapore Contemporary Artist – Zhao Renhui                                         from Elaine Yeung


•Born in Singapore on 1983
•He obtained a BA in Photography at Camberwell College of Arts, followed by an MA at the London College of Communication in 2006.
•He created The Institute of Critical Zoologists (ICZ) in 2008.
  Prizes and awards
•2008: Singapore International Photography Festival : Winner : Emerging Artist Award 08
•2009: Sotiri International Prize for Young Photographers : Winner
•2009: United Overseas Bank Prize : Painting of the Year Award : Winner : Singapore
•2010: Sony World Photography Awards at Cannes : Winner : Constructed and Conceptual
•2010: Prix Voies Off : Arles, France : Nomination
•2010: Young Artist Award : 2010 : Singapore
•2011: Sony World Photography Awards : Still-life : Winner


About Zhao Renhui ( An Interview with him)

Your work has a focus on animals. Was it an obsession?

I have a genuine curiosity on the natural world and men’s interaction with it.
The landscape, animals and plants are all part of this interest.

How do you set your own benchmark? How do you know it is finished.

Most of my work are in constant development, it is never quite finished. I learn from each exhibition.
Someone once told me you are only as good as your last work, so I guess it can never be finished.

How much research, plan goes into each project?

Most of the time I present only about 1% or less of the actual research. If I talk about my research any more than I should it might get a little too complicated and patronising for the audience.

Here is the link:


Renhui’s work (Humans, nature, photography, mysteries fuse together)

Exhibition : The Last Thing You See

“It talks about how difficult it is to be a bee.” -Zhao Renhui


Under ultraviolet light, some parts of cobwebs will glow and shining like a flower.
Humans cannot see under normal light, but bee is able to see this little glowing.
Therefore, humans often thought it was a bee which does not see things clearly,
hit the spider web mindlessly.


Pulau Pejantan

Zhao Renhui
Pejantan Black Geyser, 2009
from the series Pulau Pejantan

An uninhabited island in the Indonesian Archipelago first visited by scientists only in 2005, Pulau Pejantan (also known as “Sand Forest Island”) has recently drawn increasing attention from researchers for its extremely unusual geological features and remarkable biodiversity.

Two distinct environmental regions – a central semi-tropical forest, ringed by pale white sand dunes dotted with geothermal oddities like the extraordinary Black Geyser – harbor some six hundred species of fauna, roughly seventy percent of which exist only on the island. Conditions are difficult for observation on the remote island.

“Black Geyser ” spray  mist fan in the light depressions. All of his image looks very convincing, but at the same time feels incredible. Although the island is real, he indeed goes there personally. However, the image itself is actually through a sophisticated treatment. This photo is not the actual situation on the island, but through human design, imagines alternatives.


Zhao Renhui
Flock of Ocean Munias, 2010
74*111cm (29″*44″)




Expedition #43, 2012
Archival piezographic print
33.07 x 47.64 in (84 x 121.01 cm)
5 of 5

Expedition #43, belongs to a body of work in which Renhui records the Glacier Study Group carrying out various scientific investigations in the Arctic Circle. As global warming has an increasing impact on the polar environment, the group spend long periods of the year in the Arctic investigating the melting glaciers and the implication this has on the surrounding flora and fauna.

“Glacier research group” expedition to the Arctic glaciers. The photo formed between reality and fiction is very balanced. Although these images do not reflect the true scene, or at least in the nature photography standards cannot be counted as true. However, they are also a record: The huge stag antlers pop out from the ice surface can really make people truly feel the ice under the surface of the body. While the other photo, a dressed man out of tune with the surrounding environment in the Arctic  station. And try to jump out from the ice shows the limitations of human beings and their ambition to “natural” conditions. In another way, they are even more real from the actual nature photography.







About Anselm Kiefer

– Kiefer was born in Germany, 1945 and

– Is known as a painter and sculptor. He is also considered one of the most influential artists today.

– From 1991-2007, he worked mainly in Barjac, a small city in the south of France in a large studio while also building his creations surrounding this area.

– Over Cities Grass will Grow: documentary was released in 2010 and shows Kiefer’s processes.

– His main inspirations derive from German culture and the layering of mythical ideas that had evolved by association to Nazism. This controversial topic is what made him more known among the art world. Later on, he also became interested in Jewish myths that the Nazis had tried to eliminate. Many of his pieces also make references to the Bible and mythology from different cultures.

– His work invokes a similar dark, atmosphere to Friedrich’s work.

Margarethe (1981)

– Before going to Barjac, Kiefer painted Margarethe, almost ten years before.

– Inspired by a poem, written by Paul Celan – who was the “only person in his family to survive incarceration at a concentration camp during the Holocaust.” Although Celan commited suicide at the age of 49 in 1970, he left behind a collection of literature that included “Death Fugue”.

– I’m not going to read the entire verse from the slide, and note that this isn’t the entire poem either but I just wanted to show the relationship between the two pieces.

– The poem focuses on two contrasting characters; Margarethe – with blonde “Aryan” hair, and Shulamith, a Jewish woman with black hair.

– Margarethe (the painting) is part of a series Kiefer was working on, which includes other paintings inspired by both Shulamith and Margarethe.

– “The straw embedded in many of Kiefer’s paintings makes reference not only to Margarete but also to the old German legend of Rumpelstiltskin who spun straw into gold.”

Material Use

– Something that makes Kiefers work so effective is the types of materials he uses and the way in which he uses them.

– He likes to work at a large scale and use industrial materials like molten lead to enhance his pieces.

– He uses a lot of natural materials like ash, straw, earth, dried plants and metals. And that I guess is how his work relates to this course. He uses nature to have cultural meaning.

– He uses raw materials to create something valuable, reminding the viewer that perhaps the “opposites lie within one another.”


– Where Kiefer worked for several years, in an old silk factory which he renovated into a studio

– He built structures all around the area, creating and paving roads, and building homes for his paintings.

Osiris and Isis (completed in 1987)

– The base of the painting is oil and acrylics emulsion, after which he used other materials on top.

– Osiris and Isis is an Egyptian myth which Kiefer uses as an allegory for Germany’s struggle with the “legacy of World War II” (1933-1945 Nazi Germany, controlled by Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Worker’s party NSDAP)

– The myth is about Osiris, the god of the underworld who gets killed by his envious brother Set who then spreads Osiris’ body parts all over the land. Osiris’ wife, in mourning she searches for his remains and resurrects him – “literally re-remembering him.”

Innenraum painted in 1981

– Innenraum (pronounced EEnenraaum) means Interior space in German.

– The piece shows Hitler’s Reich Chancellery, the architecture of Albert Speer.

Shary Boyle

Presentation Notes

• Born in Scarborough Ontario 1972
• Toronto based artist
• Studied at OCA
• Work known for fantastical figurative narratives
• Deeply personal and fanciful
• Class gender and injustice
• Mediums: sculpture, drawing, installation and performance.
• She interprets her personal observation of sexuality, relationships and human vulnerability through a darkly feminist lens.
• Inspiration: illustrations of natural curiosities collected and collated by the 18th-century Amsterdam pharmacist Albertus Seba
• Performed internationally since 2000
• Boyle puts a lot of detail in her hand-made work
• Performed at VonRot GmbH, Berlin (2001), the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, Los Angeles (2002), the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2004, 2006), the Olympia Theatre, Paris (2005), the Fonal Festival, Finland (2005), the Sonar Festival, Barcelona (2005), and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2006, 2008).
• AGO exhibit called Flesh and Blood
• White wedding, installation of a life sized figure of a woman with cobwebs weaving in and around her.
• feminist issues, body containment, fertility and eco-feminism