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Tackling social issues from bud to bloom

by Chloё Lalonde September 26, 2017
Tackling social issues from bud to bloom

At the start of a journey, BLOOM engages artistic liberation within a social community

This summer, artist Evangelos Michelis began a new journey by steering away from his usual painting techniques. He described BLOOM, his first solo exhibition, as “fun, free and expressive.”

Michelis’ exhibition experiments with colour and form, using techniques that resonated with him the most from his time in art school. Having graduated from Concordia’s BFA studio arts program in 2016, Michelis said he is still adjusting to life as a working artist.

A vital aspect of Michelis’ creative process is interacting with other painters and being exposed to a variety of creative practices. Michelis said Concordia’s fine arts program had a strong sense of community. Therefore, going from large, shared studios to a private one was a big challenge for him.

The change in environment prompted the artist to experiment with different styles. He decided to branch out from his usual focus on contemporary social issues. BLOOM is a body of work that includes the personal, emotional and aesthetic experiences of its viewers, as opposed to being an illustration of social problems.

Rabbit Hole, shown here, was the first piece Michelis created for BLOOM. Photos by Alex Hutchins.

Many of the artist’s early works depict social issues surrounding capitalism, from the consumption of technology (Screen, 2016) to the labourer’s experience in the workplace (Love Thy Labour, 2015). Setting the contemporary narratives of his paintings in familiar scenes such as in supermarkets, bars and restaurants, Michelis’ previous work speaks truth to all who view it.

The pieces in BLOOM are a response to a long winter and are heavily influenced by a residency he did at a studio in Detroit last spring. “When I got there, I had such a clear idea of how I was going to work, what I was going to work on and why,” the artist said. After returning to Montreal a month later though, Michelis said he knew he needed a “pause.”

With summer around the corner, Michelis jumped at the opportunity to explore a new style. Free from the academic restrictions of university, each painting in BLOOM came naturally to Michelis, who was inspired by the background foliage in one of his older pieces, titled Invasion (2014).

In Rabbit Hole (2017), the first piece he completed for BLOOM, Michelis experimented deliberately with complementary colours. The contrast between the deep cadmium red and rich forest green provides a vibrant intensity, a visual technique which kicked off Michelis’ inspiration for this body of work.

BLOOM  is promoted by Feat Management, a three-month-old initiative dedicated to supporting emerging artists and showcasing unseen work. “Our aim is to help these artists flourish and attain boundless feats,” according to founders Rafaёl and Max Hart Barnwell.

The Hart Barnwells are both Concordia graduates—Rafaël from communications and Max from photography—and friends of Michelis’. The trio worked together to organize BLOOM, appropriately titled to represent a blossoming of both Feat Management’s initiative and Michelis’ new approach to his work.

BLOOM’s vernissage will take place on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. The exhibition will be open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. everyday until Oct. 2 at the MainLine Gallery. Find Feat Management online and on Instagram @feat.mgmt.

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