August 29 - October 3, 2015
We are thrilled to present our first solo exhibition in the gallery by acclaimed artist Milutin Gubash from August 29 to October 5 2015. Featuring large photographs, sculpture and installation, Ordinary folk furthers the artist’s intent to question ideas of authenticity and perceptions of cultural, political and social identities. As he constantly intertwines facts and fiction, past and present, idealization and historical acuity, Gubash highlights the contradictions of our capacity to construct a sense of identity.
Although passionately anchored in the past, Milutin Gubash‘s work is strongly oriented toward thinking about the future. The large photographic works from the Monuments to Communists series magnify a grouping of monuments commissioned under Tito in the former Yugoslavia during the 1960’s to 1980’s. If the photographs are playing with the vocabulary of documentary, Gubash subtly manipulates his images as much as the actual symbolic value of those monuments that have been socially and politically constructed. Intent to heroize its own common citizenry, while simultaneously wanting to seduce the West by aggrandizing its political and cultural achievements within the modernist enterprise, the most forward thinking artists of the Balkans created these unparalleled modern monuments to commemorate the battles and ultimate costs of transitioning to Socialism in the region. As symbolic representations of evolutionary social and political struggle, these monuments served a double function, as internally they were meant to invigorate interest and faith in the socialist experiment that had begun to waver after 25 years, as much as they expressed a desire to align Yugoslavia with the Western world and encourage western tourism. That duality is central to Gubash’s practice as his interest lies in the grand and innovative aesthetics, yet lack of any current function, these monuments possess. Once idealized though now abandoned, they are opened to a re-imagined value for us now, if only we want them.
That is precisely what transpires in the Lamps project that has its premiere in this exhibition. Arrayed in a constellation-like manner in the gallery, these sculptures-with-lights, inspired by modern lamp designs and made with found materials, are hung above and at eye-level, enabling one to meander between them. Like the Monuments to Communists photographs, these handmade models of covetable things in the world also parallel the desires assumed and embedded in each of us to attain some semblance of our utopian ideals . Based on familiar modern and contemporary designs, Gubash’s sketches of the essential features of each lamp/sculpture are sent to his aunt in Serbia, who hires a local taxi driver to help source the common (generally Far East made) domestic materials which will be used in their construction, at a nearby flea market. In a final mimicry of contemporary global manufacturing practices performed in human-scale, the artist’s mother transports the newly purposed “parts” back overseas in her suitcase, bringing the components back to Gubash in Montreal for final assembly. Unique objects which are impossible to replicate, these Lamps along with the Monuments to Communists photographs, both imagine the will to transcend the disappointing and mundane actual circumstances in life, to dream of something just and better, represented by a fantacized idea of the western world.
Born in Novi Sad, Serbia, 1969, Milutin Gubash lives and works in Montreal. He holds an MFA in photography from Concordia University as well as two bachelor’s degrees in photography and philosophy from the University of Calgary. His work has been widely exhibited throughout Canada, United States and Europe since 2000, at the Manifestation internationale d’art de Québec (2005 et 2010), and at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2007), among others. We have seen his videos in festivals including Les Rencontres Internationales Paris / Berlin / Madrid (2009). He has won numerous grants and awards, including a grant of long-term Arts Council of Canada (2011-2013). A Canada wide series of unique solo survey exhibitions was recently completed, featuring his last ten years of practice at Rodman Hall Art Centre (St. Catharines, Ontario), Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa, Ontario), Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (Kitchener, Ontario), Southern Alberta Art Gallery (Lethbridge, Alberta), Musée d’art de Joliette (Quebec) and the Darling Foundry (Montreal, Quebec). This ambitious series of exhibitions culminated with the publication of a monograph in 2013. The National Gallery of Canada recently acquired a significant number of works from the Monuments to Communists series that they will present in 2016.