P. Mansaram: 1980s Xerox and Mail Art
March 4 to May 14, 2016
Curated by Melissa Bennett and Alana Traficante in partnership with Hamilton Artists Inc.
P. Mansaram, detail from Take a leap into the space, c. 1986, handmade xerox book
Mansaram, also known as Panchal Mansaram, is a Burlington-based artist who was born in Mount Abu, India, in 1934. He immigrated to Canada in 1966, and quickly became friends with Marshall McLuhan, who helped him become oriented in the Toronto and North American cultural scene. Having studied art in India in high school, and then on a fellowship at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam, he brought an eastern style and perspective on the visual arts to his work in Canada. Known for his diverse accomplishments in many styles and media, he has worked in painting, drawing, collage, mixed media and in the changing technologies of the 20th century. His video, film, photography and lasergraphic practice forms a context for his experimentations with Xerography, and mail art.
Xerography emerged as a visual arts form in the late 1970s. Like video art, it signalled artists’ desires for diplomatic and accessible new media. Building on his compositional mixed media collage works, Mansaram would spend time photocopying these, often in series, to create new and experimental images. Zooming in and out, adjusting the contrast and other effects, adding cut-outs of type-written lyrical texts, the photocopied images became a visual and poetic exploration for him. He sometimes assembled them as book works, spiral bound or accordion-style, and other times the individual images stood alone. Mansaram was an active participant in the international mail art scene around the same time, which was an association of artists (with headquarters in the U.S.), who had a mailing list set up and would send copies of their artworks to everyone on the list, whether postcards, collages, or Xerox pieces, etc.
On view at the AGH Design Annex are examples of Mansaram’s Xerography works from the 1980s, along with a display of original Xerography book works, and souvenirs from his mail art practice, including publications that featured his mail art. For the current exhibition he revisited two book works and enlarged the pages anew, presenting them in a serial way. Viewers can engage with the fantastical collage that is the first page and origin work for the series Take a leap into the space, c. 1986; as well as A Maze of Life, c.1986. To create both works, Mansaram used window screening as an essential visual element, as a symbol of the ways in which a view through a window, or any screen such as a TV or computer, may be creatively manipulated. Adding meditative poetic texts throughout, the works indeed remind viewers of McLuhan’s writings on the medium as the message.
The Art Gallery of Hamilton and Hamilton Artists’ Inc. are proud to present the work of Mansaram, in this exhibition that happens to begin on the day of his 82nd birthday. Mansaram is a long-standing and committed member of the Hamilton and Burlington art scenes, a celebrated former high school art teacher in Burlington, and an astute alumnus of the International Society of Copier Artists, a revolutionary group who advocated for a new type of image-making directly tied to the rapidly changing technologies of the late 20th century.
Melissa Bennett, AGH Curator of Contemporary Art
Alana Traficante, Independent Curator and Administrative Director, Hamilton Artists Inc.
Art Gallery of Hamilton in partnership with Hamilton Artists Inc.
The Landscape Renewed
May 21 to August 20, 2016
Pace with Soul,
acrylic on canvas,
122 cm x 152 cm,
Photo: Mike Lalich
The visual language used by the
Group of Seven to describe
Canadian landscape is still very
much in use today. Like any
language, however, it evolves
over time. This survey exhibition
of works by emerging and
established landscape artists
from this region shows the variety
of ways in which the idioms of the
Group of Seven are identifiable,
yet also in transition.
These works demonstrate how shifts in colour palette, application, and material can revive
and contemporize the landscape tradition. Featured artists include E. Robert Ross, Jerzy
Werbel, Douglas Edwards, and Kerry Walford.
The Design Annex exhibition space features experimental contemporary art installations by artists from Hamilton and farther afield. Exhibition receptions are held on the second Friday of each month during the James Street North Art Crawls.
The Design Annex provides artists with a new location in which to present works in all media, including new media. The space welcomes Hamilton residents and visitors to engage with contemporary art in a highly visible and accessible venue in the heart of Hamiltonís James Street North Arts District.