In May of 2007 Robert Malinowski and Paul Fortin participated in the Gil Society’s visual arts residency in Akureyri, a town situated in the chilly northern fjords of Iceland. Organized by the society and supported by the Municipality of Akureyri, the residency allowed for unencumbered experimentation and creation in this unique and vibrant community. A cultural hotspot located in this otherwise chilly climate, the town of Akureyri has embraced all that encompasses the spirit of artistic creation. It has set the stage for the production, exhibition and enjoyment of music, literature and visual art for both the local and visiting population by restoring the long dead industrial buildings of town into vibrant workspaces, galleries and cafés.

Using their time in the studio to play and experiment with imagery found in the diverse landscapes and stories of Iceland, the pair set out to collaborate on drawings in this unique laboratory setting. The residency culminated in the launch of the exhibition Jökulhlaup at Populus Tremula, a vibrant exhibition space, cabaret and publishing house representing Akureyri’s artistic underground. The exhibition was made up of twenty nine drawings executed by the pair during their stay and focuses on the relationships between individuals, landscapes and the drawings themselves. Jökulhlaup, which in Icelandic refers to glacial flooding caused by a volcano erupting beneath an icecap, speaks metaphorically of both the flood of creation that Robert and Paul embraced during their stay in Akureyri as well as the spirit of the town itself - the flood of artistic thought and vision erupting underneath the frozen industry of Akureyri to carve a new path and transform the artistic landscape.

Robert Malinowski

The drawings in my current body of work deal with relationships. The portrayal of these relationships varies. Some drawings illustrate people involved together in a situation, while other images show individuals in a solitary moment. To stage these relationships a representation of each character is rendered. Specific gestures and postures are assigned to these characters. Along with physical portrayals, a further enhancement is made. Surrounding these individuals are symbols. The symbols vary depending on the mood of each character and the situation that they are involved in. Hearts, numbers, letters or a combined variety of symbols are used to give thought and emotion a physical presence on the page. Since our thoughts make up so much of who we are I feel that it is important to trace these internal elements. The intention of these drawings is to examine the physical as well as the internal state of an individual.

Robert Malinowski was born in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. It was here along the rapids of St. Mary and the shores of Lake Superior that Robert waited to see the subtle lines of life. It was also here where he waited amongst the industrial nature of the area. In the quietest of the night he could always hear the machinery of the steel plant. It was while listening to these sounds that he realized man’s material evolution was in close timing with nature’s. Robert’s work entertains the thought that one is not only shaped by their environment, but that one shapes the environment in which they are in. It is in this environmental regeneration that Robert traces his lines. His move to Toronto, Ontario allowed him to develop a new vocabulary with his images and sculptural forms. Robert’s formal art education from the Ontario College of Art allowed him to participate in the off campus exchange program in Florence, Italy for one year where he further developed the images that populate his work. Robert’s artwork has been exhibited with galleries at the Affordable Art Fair in New York as well as the Toronto International Art Fair in Toronto. His work can be found in private and corporate collections throughout the United States and Canada.

Robert is currently represented in Canada by XEXE Gallery in Toronto and AK Collins Gallery in Port Hope, Ontario.

Paul Fortin

Throughout the past year I have participated in numerous visual art residencies that have taken me to different locations geographically. I have been lucky enough to call Banff, Vancouver, Japan, Ivvavik National Park, Toronto, Trinidad, Norway and Iceland my home. In an attempt to produce a coherent body of work I have found that images began to overlap and collage themselves upon my memory, certain regions became a blur and upon the early stages of travel burnout, the mind stopped registering altogether.

I am intrigued by this dropping away of details, of not fully absorbing our surroundings. An emptiness or void is created where images are not fully registering in our minds, giving us nothing. We seek answers but are only given more questions. I strive to develop my paintings in this way. They are brief glimpses into landscapes and moments that may or may not ever fully develop into what they truly are. I want the work to remain open and let the viewer fill in the blanks, to absorb and construct what they are seeing for themselves. Each image is open to interpretation by the viewer. While the paintings may represent a void or emptiness, the interpretations that the viewer brings to the work will be full of life and atmosphere.

Paul Fortin originally hails from Peterborough, in the Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario. His formal art training has taken him to the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine and to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Over the past ten years he has lived a somewhat nomadic lifestyle settling and moving throughout numerous regions of Canada. This has allowed for the collection of a vast database of visual imagery, both two and three dimensional, which has been used to create an eclectic and diverse body of paintings, sculptures and installations. His work is strongly influenced by societies connection and disconnection with environments (both natural and manmade) and draw upon the emotion of loneliness and feelings of emptiness. His move to Inuvik, Northwest Territories in 2004 along with the unique arctic geography, isolation and the study of Inuit graphics and prints has been a major influence in his work. Paul is the recipient of numerous grants and has been awarded artist in residence positions at the Pouch Cove Foundation in Newfoundland, the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Canada Councils International Residency Program at CCA in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Kulturhuset USF in Bergen Norway and artist in residence at the Gil -Society in Akureyri, Iceland. Work from 1997 to the present can be found in public and private collections in Canada, the United States and Europe.

Paul is represented by Patrick Mikhail Gallery in Ottawa, Ontario.

The Drawings

The Exhibition