In over 17 years of studio practice, through a process of drawing and photographing the cities he has lived in, Toronto and New York City, Mike Childs has developed an abstract language of visual signs and symbols that mimic the experience of looking at and moving through urban spaces. This exhibition will feature his latest group of 10 paintings and drawings that apply this personal language and explore our relationships to movement, space and urbanity.
Childs regards a painting as, ”an idea which is either on its way to being finalized or on its way to being halfway destroyed.” Like the actual buildings and either construction or demolition sites in his photographs each painting or drawing, in either acrylic on canvas or graphite on paper, looks as if it is in the process of changing. Childs structures these spaces by painting and repainting contrasting and harmonizing shapes and colors into pseudo-cityscapes that never quite settle into a coherent space. He accentuates this visual tension by coupling opposites, biomorphic with geometric or irrational with rational, or the built with the un-built. The viewer’s eye is pushed and pulled into endlessly complicated spaces…never pausing for long…just like life in the hustle and bustle of urban living.
Construction sites, like any city or large group of people, contain a seemingly endless combination of random colors. Childs color combinations mimic the accidental juxtapositions of color recorded in his photographs. Through subtle shifts in color and value Childs uses his keen color sense as another device to manipulate our understanding of space. This persistently shifting place and our experience of looking at it stands as a powerful metaphor for the constantly changing urban environment and how humans negotiate this space.