“Glitch-alikes” solo exhibition at Galerie BAC, Montreal

I’m pleased to announce my upcoming solo exhibition, Glitch-alikes, at Galerie BAC, Bigué Art Contemporain in Montreal.  The invitation and press release are below.

Galerie BAC, Bigué Art Contemporain is proud to present the first Montreal solo show of the Toronto-based artist, Mark Stebbins. The exhibition Glitch-alikes will be presented from September 6th to September 29th, 2012, with an opening reception taking place on September 6 starting at 5:00 pm.

Mark Stebbins has become known for small, complex abstract paintings that deal with themes of information, transformation, memory, craft, labour and decay. In Glitch-alikes, Stebbins presents a new body of work that represents both a thematic continuation and a visual tangent to his previous work.

Glitch generally refers to the failure of some system. In its pure form, glitch is an unanticipated error or spontaneous malfunction. In contrast, the “glitch-alike”–a term coined by Iman Moradi–is the result of conscious manipulation by an artist, a purposely induced or synthesized failure.

When an electronic failure distorts visual material, the results can be strangely compelling. Glitched digital images often fragment in ways that reveal something about the structure of the underlying data, resulting in striated bands of pixels, misaligned patterns, abrupt palette shifts and random noise.

Stebbins’ Glitch-alike body of work combines two distinct elements. Firstly, the images refer to the artist’s studio process by incorporating remnants of dried paint scraped from Stebbins’ palette and mixing cups. These remains constitute a sort of accidental imagery, harvested in much the same way a digital glitch artist might hunt for the chance occurrence of pure glitch. Secondly, Stebbins mimics the aesthetics of digital glitch by surrounding the palette residue with elaborate pixel matrices, which he renders by hand in acrylic ink, square-by-square.

The result is an inversion of implied intentionality. Paint strokes and smears that might read as expressive gesture are in fact unintentionally created by-products of past paintings, saved and catalogued by the artist for reuse. In contrast, what appear as unintended failures of digital images are in fact the most laboured aspects of the pieces. On closer inspection, these pixel grids are undeniably expressive in a way that could only be the result of a human hand, containing both a nuanced imprecision in form and a meticulous consideration of subtle tonal variation and patterning.

What to make of these glitchy images, these glitch-alikes? These intimately scaled pieces continue to explore themes found in Stebbins’ past work, including the transformation and decay of information. The artist’s slow and deliberate creation of glitch-alike images can be seen as a sustained meditation on the inherent instability of recorded information, and as such, on change and loss in general. But in gleaning the residue of his studio process, Stebbins suggests that glitch can be celebrated as a reclamation of error. In glitch there is also hope: a hope that in failure, something new and beautiful will emerge.

Mark Stebbins was born in Sarnia, Ontario and currently lives and works in Toronto. He has received numerous awards for his art, most notably an Honourable Mention in the 2010 RBC Canadian Painting Competition, Best in Show and Best in Drawing at the 2010 Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, the 2009 Halifax Mayor’s Award of Distinction in Contemporary Visual Arts and Visual Arts Nova Scotia’s Emerging Artist of the Year for 2009.  His work is included in public and private collections, including the RBC Royal Bank of Canada, the Canada Council Art Bank, and the Halifax Regional Municipality. He received a B.F.A. from the University of Western Ontario in 2002 and an LL.B. from Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in 2008.

For further information, contact Galerie BAC, Bigué Art Contemporain at 514-508-4099 / info@galeriebac.com