Fly was thrilled to drop in to the Sandra Ainsley Gallery in Toronto’s east end the other day and the thrill of opening the plain, unassuming outside door and walking into the spectacular gallery was breath-taking! The huge lofty warehouse-like space showcases some of the most spectacular glass artworks, including many pieces by the legendary Dale Chihuly (below)Sandra herself offered a warm welcome then her associate, Daniel, introduced glass masters previously unknown to FLY via the stunning colourful and delicate works currently on show. First off, this showcase of 5 monochromatic pieces by Tobias Mohl that immediately catches one’s eyes:
Tobias Møhl’s training came from his on the job experience as a glassblower for the well-known Danish firm Holmegaard GlasvÃ¦rk, where he started in 1989 at the age of 19. By 1992 he was a master glassblower. He was an assistant glassblower for Lino Tagliapietra’s master class at Pilchuck in 1996 and at Tagliapietra’s master class at Haystack in 1997. Blowing for Tagliapietra gave Møhl good exposure and his reputation in the U.S. began to soar. By the end of the 1990s Møhl had earned international recognition. Møhl’s work is a unique marriage of classical Venetian technique with a clear Scandinavian aesthetic. His work is testimony to his considerable skill and interest in traditional technique and craftsmanship. At the same time he also explores innovative options with glass. He uses a traditional process, creating a mosaic of glass that is picked up with a gather of hot molten glass and then blown into shape. The blowing process stretches the mosaic into intricate patterns on the glass. While this technique is traditional, the patterns he creates express a contemporary aesthetic. Many of Møhl’s vessels are white on white or white on black. He uses color sparingly and often he’ll use just one or two colors from his simplified palette.
FLY then decided that the colourful, very tactile pieces by Michael Behrens were favourites of the day…
German-born artist Wilfried Grootens trained as a teenager in glass & porcelain painting, then after several self-discovery journeys around the world he started performing with the German bands Embryo and Dissidenten, groups known for their avant-garde approach to a style of music coined the “world beat movement.” He returned to his glass roots and the results are now on show in the gallery…
Grootens’ current glass work (above) uses the optical float technique. He paints on layers of glass and assembles them in stacks, laminating them together to create cube forms. The cubes are cut and polished to perfection. One sculpture in the series, “Where the Shark Bubbles Blow,” is made from 35 layers of painted glass. For this piece, Grootens painted a circle shape on the surface of each thin layer of clear glass. Made of thousands of very fine brush strokes of varying tones, the painted circle creates a wonderful aqua blue. The circles on each layer recede or expand in size gradually and, when seen together, form a miraculous three dimensional globe which seems to be suspended in the cube.
Daniel then directed FLY’s gaze to the big bold colour glass blocks by John Kiley …wow! Not only did the actual pieces generate excitement and wonder, they also cast amazing reflections on the gallery floor – see below
Similar to abstract expressionism, Kiley’s work captures the motion AND emotion of the artist, but in three dimensions. When glass cools, the atoms are arranged randomly. In glass, fractures from an impact follow these random pathways – because of this it’s impossible to re-create the exact same fracture twice in glass, each Fractograph is an indelible and irreproducible record of impact, energy, time and place. The self-imposed rules for the initial 10 blocks were simple, start with a brand new 10lb. sledge hammer, a perfectly polished 80 lb block of optic glass, and you only get one hit. Whatever happens, happens.
Lots more exquisite pieces to view in the gallery – lots more artists to discover….
SPECIAL PRESENTATION – runs until May 21st: Sandra Ainsley Gallery is hosting “Translucent Bloom”, the Sheridan College graduate showcase. So many lovely, unique pieces from future glass stars! If you get a chance, hurry down to support these young talented artists.
SANDRA AINSLEY GALLERY
100 Sunrise Avenue, Unit 150, Toronto
Follow on Facebook & IG: @ainsleygallery