O'Born Contemporary


For the Lack of a Smile

Robert Canali and Noel Rodo-Vankeulen

April 30 – June 11, 2011



For the Lack of a Smile brings together O'Born Contemporary gallery artists, Robert Canali and Noel Rodo-Vankeulen in an exhibition, which challenges existing tendencies towards conceptually driven works of art, where form and material serve ideas. It is an exploration of medium, exploring conventions of photography, the physical print and the nostalgia that permeates the medium. Canali and Rodo- Vankeulen are brought together to discuss themes of desire, obsession, melancholy and the physical print itself, waxing reflective on the history and conventions of photography.

Canali's work considers inherent qualities of the photographic medium. Physical and chemical aspects of photography are addressed as Canali exposes the unique character of the negative in his work, Victoria. A reference to colour space, Victoria reminds the viewer of the simple, aesthetic beauty of the materials, which are usually secondary to photography's final manifestation: The print.
Characteristics of photographic instruments are elegantly reflected upon in his sculptural work, Prism: The fundamental operation of the camera is both highlighted and denied, proposing ruminations about the ultimate source of a photographic reproduction: Light.
Canali contemplates procedure, convention and perhaps even rituals, essential to photography in his print works, which consider repetition, color space and image construction: The viewer is met with an echoing moon, a reminder of the obsessive nature of the act of picture-taking.

Rodo-Vankeulen's contribution is equally varied, considering authorship, memory, construction, applications of photography and the nostalgia, inherent to the medium. His disparate use of imagery such as supernovas, mansions, upside-down sunsets and digitally collaged film-packaging, highlight the polymorphic character of photography, specifically its broad associative horizon of specialist and amateur interests. Sunset, an upside down interpretation of the most photographed natural phenomenon is at once mundane, conventional and seemingly amateur. Rodo-Vankeulen however, raises its status by inclusion. Here, it is afforded higher prestige as 'art', putting into question the authority with which works are granted or denied value.
Fuji triggers a wistfulness for the analogue medium: memories of film canisters, dark bags, developer and fiber paper fill the mind with romantic notions of the photographer as chemist and magician, in the way a writer relishes the musty scent of antique hard-covers.

For the Lack of a Smile is a tribute to the photograph, creating an environment where we are free to celebrate the medium and revel in the simple beauty of its materials. Canali elevates photographic processes to works of art, themselves while Rodo- Vankeulen practices restraint, subtly guiding viewers to consider their interpretations of this visual language. The result is a very contemporary notion of the medium to be enjoyed by professionals and amateurs, alike.

- Natalie MacNamara, 2011

about the artist

Robert Canali is an artist living and working in Caledon, Ontario. His photographs and installation work has been exhibited frequently at venues including: The Gales Gallery at York University; Labspace Studio; Deleon White Gallery; and Gallery TPW. Canali explores the way in which photography and its relationship to presence can be experienced through installation. In addition to having work in numerous private collections in Canada and the US, Canali self-published a handmade limited edition artist book and exhibition catalogue under his co-run publishing house, Wassenaar Studio. He has been the recipient of a Regional Arts Award from the Brampton council of Fine Arts as well as the Photography Honorarium Award from York University, and his work has most recently been featured on the cover of the summer 2010 issue of BlackFlash Magazine.

Noel Rodo- Vankeulen is an artist and writer who lives and works in Brampton, Ontario. He has exhibited work in Canada, the United States and abroad. Selected exhibitions include: "After Color" at Bose Pacia in Chelsea, New York, which traveled during 2010 and 2011 to galleries at Savannah College of Art & Design; "Where is Here", part of the 2010 Flash Forward Festival; "Graphic Interarticles" at the Umbrage Gallery in New York; "One Hour Photo" at The American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, DC; and "Young Curators, New Ideas" at the Bond Street Gallery in New York.

Rodo-Vankeulen's critical and editorial writing has been included in such publications as the Toronto-based Hunter and Cook Magazine, Foam International Photography Magazine, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's book Words Without Pictures and most recently in Lay Flat: Meta, an annual journal of photography. In 2011 his work will be included in the book 100 New Artists by Dazed and Confused editor Francesca Gavin and published by Laurence King. Along with artist Robert Canali, Rodo- Vankeulen co-founded Wassenaar, a concept studio that focuses on print design, publishing and curatorial projects.