News Archive

For immediate release: November 19, 2010

Greg Curnoe
Original Copy
Collages, Drawings, & Rubber Stamp Works, 1962-90
Co-curated by Rebecca Tuck
November 20, 2010 - January 15, 2011

Opening: Saturday, November 20, 2-5pm

Goodyear collage, March 24, 1962, stamp pad ink, collage 4 ½ x 7 ¾ inches

Using up old coloured ink March 22, 1987, watercolour, stamp pad ink on paper 48 x 76 inches

We are pleased to announce an exhibition of selected works by Greg Curnoe, co-curated by Rebecca Tuck.

Tuck has focused on the rubber stamp and collage works for this exhibition, some as early as 1961 and as late as the large stamped works of the 1980’s. Their presence is remarkable as was Curnoe’s whole practice. His works are represented in numerous major public and private collections across Canada and abroad and can be seen regularly in extended installations at such galleries as the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada and the London Regional Art Gallery, Ontario.

Greg Curnoe received his first stamp set at eleven years old. He was a constant recorder in his early years of all things around him, life and art. Building on this practice of print, collage, drawing and painting, performance and writing, continuing to record everyday life around his hometown of London Ontario , Curnoe travelled far and influenced many. His work is among the most important and innovative produced in Canada . And still it is as fresh and vital as ever. Curnoe died tragically in a cycling accident in 1992.

Rebecca Tuck was undeniably influenced in the early days of her life by Greg Curnoe. The fact that his untimely passing happened as she reached the fourth week of her life underlined the beginning of a deep connection and developing fascination with Curnoe and his work. Sheila Curnoe welcomed her into the studio, strengthening the bond. Through her life she has collected her own Curnoe ephemera and spent many hours immersed with his work, taking every opportunity to disappear within the gallery’s storage room to delight in new Curnoe discoveries.

The Art Gallery of Ontarios major retrospective, Greg Curnoe, Life & Stuff, 2001, provided her with more food for thought. The substantial book which was published to accompany the exhibition includes the essay by Sarah Milroy, Greg Curnoe: Time Machines, from which the following passages are taken:

“------Curnoe’s entire body of work from his art school days onwards can be seen as a series of exercises in stripping away clutter and preconceptions to reveal the raw flesh of perception, to get at its white-hot instantaneity, before feeling, before thought, before understanding---- you work with what is in front of you. But the ultimate mystery of Greg Curnoe’s work is that so much piling up of anecdotal detail could yield a testimony that is so poignant. In his willful triviality, he approached the profound.-----

------The American artist Claes Oldenburg once remarked, ‘Everything I do is completely original. I made it up when I was a kid.‘ Given half a chance, Curnoe would likely have made the same claim, and not without justification. The habits of mind, values and predilections of his childhood provide the blueprint --to an astonishing degree-- for the adult work and life that was to come.”

On one her recent forays to the storage racks Rebecca announced that she would like to select a Curnoe show someday. As it happened, we were just starting plans for our next Curnoe exhibition and embraced the opportunity to experience Curnoes work through the eyes of a young person, passionate about his work.

Other News:

Traffic, the extensive exhibition in which Curnoe is well represented, along with David Askevold and Gerald Ferguson, continues at all four University of Toronto galleries through November 28.

In the essay for the London, Ontario section, Justina M. Barnicke’s director and curator, Barbara Fischer wrote: “Curnoe’s concerns as an artist were autobiographical and firmly grounded in his experience of the immediate and the local; they also evolved from the anarchist, anti-establishment, delinquent and anti-bourgeois tendencies of the Neo-Dada supported within the artistic circles surrounding Toronto art dealer Avrom Isaacs. By 1962, Curnoe was already making works consisting exclusively of text, creating inventories through impersonal, administrative measures that would come to preoccupy conceptual art, such as utilizing ink stamps of measuring devices to chronicle day-to-day routines. In 1973, the American critic john Chandler claimed that Curnoe had been making conceptual and process art before these terms were coined.”

There will be a conference, Traffic: Conceptualism in Canada, November 26 - 28, at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Hart House