Finding art in the process

Inaugural Doodlezoo celebrates works in progress

Gab Kokas and Chris Saba’s portion of Inaugural Doodlezoo will double as their gallery space for the show’s duration.
Gab Kokas and Chris Saba’s portion of Inaugural Doodlezoo will double as their gallery space for the show’s duration.

Inaugural Doodlezoo, on exhibition at the Union Gallery, is a show that finds its identity in working through chaos. Upon entering, one finds the gallery’s space changed from the traditional, white box-like room—on one side it has become a working artist’s studio, with all of the mayhem and disorganization that entails, while the other half of the gallery has become a haphazard notebook—a patched-together collection of memories, ideas and doodles. The show is a joint effort by two sets of partners working together: Amy Uyeda and Aly Ogasian, and Chris Saba and Gab Kokas, all of whom were interested in portraying art as a process.

Uyeda and Ogasian’s work covers three of the gallery’s walls. A mish-mash of Post-It notes, scraps of paper and cardboard and a variety of media are arranged in semi-chronological order, with the date that each work was done posted below. Specific works aren’t signed or otherwise connected to either Uyeda or Ogasian, and the result feels not merely conversational, but multi-voiced.

Uyeda and Ogasian both ArtSci ’08, studied at the Glasgow School of Art last year, where they originally came up with the concept for their installation. In April, when Uyeda went home to Toronto and Ogasian returned to her home in Connecticut, the two corresponded through e-mail. Each artist made a drawing every day for almost six months and each drawing corresponds to the same sentence or idea.

The images are varied, depicting a variety of whimsical objects—teacups, balloons, Nike high-top shoes and sunglasses—in vibrant colours against plain backgrounds such as napkins, pages torn from notebooks and ripped pieces of cardboard.

The installation also includes a desk, facing into the gallery. On its surface lie a hat, an array of coloured pens, a sketchbook and a Tim Hortons cup with a few paintbrushes in it. The desk gives the feeling of a work in progress, of something ongoing, echoing the works themselves, in which day-to-day continuity is overtly represented.

Kokas and Saba’s installation converses with Uyeda and Ogasian’s work through a desk of their own.

Kokas and Saba, both ArtSci ’08, have recreated an artist’s studio within the gallery. Beside the desk, the floor is covered in canvas sheets and paintings and prints that may be in progress or finished lean on walls and against the desk, surrounded by paint cans, rags and milk crates full of art supplies or record albums.

“The idea for the show originated because our works are both very much not created to reach an aesthetic goal. They create themselves aesthetically through the process we go through,” Saba said.

Kokas has committed to working and painting in the studio installation for the show’s duration.

“I would like for people to see how my paintings are made, to drop by and see the process,” he said.

Because of this performative aspect, the show is in a constant state of flux, rewarding return visitors.

The installation also includes a series of five framed paint palettes, which Saba said he “stole” from other art students. The palettes give an intimate look at each painter’s technique on a basic level. Saba said their intent is to demonstrate the validity of the art-making process as equal to that of the final product.

“We’re hoping to show the process with the same importance as the finished work because of the [gallery] space we’re in,” Saba said. “There’s a clash of ideals and this is the best way we can resolve the conflict.”

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