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The RMG caught up with artist Toni Hamel. Her exhibition, The land of Id is, on view in Gallery A from March 3 to 29. She will speak about her work on Sunday 29 March from 1-3pm.
The RMG: Hi Toni! Please tell us a bit about yourself?
Toni Hamel: I am an Oshawa-based visual artist. I received my BFA from the Academy of Fine Arts of Lecce, Italy in 1983, but my career as a visual artist is still considered ’emerging’ in that my first public show took place only about six years ago, in 2009. However, in these short years I have been fortunate enough to achieve some level of recognition, having received three Ontario Arts Council grants and many other awards. More recently, one of my artworks has been purchased by the Archives of Ontario for inclusion in the Government of Ontario’s permanent art collection, certainly a great honour of which I am extremely grateful.
RMG: What materials do you work in?
TH: As an inter-disciplinary artist the material utilized in my work is varied. I am fond of vintage and recycled objects for instance, which I often use in my installations and sculptural pieces. Their inclusion is never gratuitous however, as these objects need to carry either an aesthetic or a semantic function. Thus far my practice has been focused on drawing, but painting will also be part of my oeuvre in the near future.
RMG: Why were you interested in Gallery A’s Art Lab residency? What have you made while working as an artist in residence for the month of February?
TH: Originally my intention was to create a large site-specific installation for Gallery A, and that was in fact the reason why I had originally applied for the Art Lab residency. Unfortunately scheduling oversights prevented me from utilizing Gallery A during that period of time, an event that forced me to revise my plans at the last minute. Eventually I decided to work on large-scale paintings that are part of “The land of Id” series, a body of work funded by the Ontario Arts Council. However, the three-week residency period was not at all sufficient to bring these oil paintings to completion, therefore I continued working on them while in Gallery A. It was also my intention to experiment with mechanical flip-book animations, but lack of time has prevented me from doing so.
RMG: Can you please tell us a bit about your exhibition The Land of Id, on view in Gallery A?
“The land of Id” continues my discourse on human behaviour, focusing on our misguided relationship with the natural environment. In a nutshell, It looks at issues of land exploitation and its repercussions. For more information, please visit https://rmg.on.ca/gallery-a-toni-hamel.php.
RMG: What inspires you? Is there a particular artist’s work that has influenced your practice?
TH: Life inspires me – if not my own, then it’ll be that of others. I am unfortunately a news-junkie and also watch too many documentaries. I find it important for an artist to be knowledgeable and well-versed in the issues of the day, as I feel that Art must bear witness. I deal with the culture of my time, trying to raise awareness about particularly pressing topics which I feel are deserving of attention. ‘The land of Id’ is just an example of that.
There are many artists that have influenced my work or admire greatly. From contemporary figures like Victor Mann, Adrian Ghenie and Michael Borremans, to historical figures like Velasquez and Goya. I am attracted to works that have something to say, rich in content and meaning. I’m definitely not interested in ‘pretty images’ or ‘decor art’.
Image: Toni Hamel
The artists acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council for this exhibition.