Mirrors, Scars, Ghosts: Taras Polataiko's Radical Visual Thinking

Professor Mark A. Cheetham

NOVEMBER 26th, 2022 @ 2pm

BEC Project Space
315 King Street West, 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M5V 1J5

Exhibition Hours: THU to SAT 1 to 6 (or by appointment)

RSVP to as space is limited

Mark A. Cheetham is a Professor of Art History at the University of Toronto. A John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow, he is the author of books, volumes, and articles on topics including Immanuel Kant and Art History, Abstract Art, Postmodernism in Canada, Art Theory in Britain, and Eco-critical Art History. His book Landscape into Eco Art: Articulations of Nature since the ‘60s was published in 2018. Active as a curator of contemporary and historical art, he presented Ecologies of Landscape at BEC Project Space in 2018. He is also one of the foremost scholars on the work of Taras Polataiko, having contributed several articles reviews and lectures on the artist work throughout Polataiko's career. The revisiting of this body of work could not be more timely against the backdrop of the crisis in Ukraine. Professor Cheetham's history with Polataiko offers a unique insight into the trajectory of the artist's practice and its particular relevance for this moment in history. 

For over thirty years, Taras Polataiko has built a conceptually rigorous and thematically cohesive practice concerned with erasure, rupture and repair. In his practice, the “idea” of the artwork is primary and essential. The medium is the mode of its conveyance. Consequently, his ideas take on the appropriate form and discipline, from painting, photography, video and performance, to first-person narratives on cultural and political interventions. Each work in the exhibition acts as a challenge to question who we are, how we are socially constructed, and what we understand about our relationship with the world at this particular moment in history. Polataiko revisits current and historical moments of cultural genocide across marginalized cultures, in ways that deconstruct the mechanisms of oppression and claim a poignant solidarity within his own cultural experience of conflict, displacement, identity and loss.

Ukrainian-born Polataiko, emigrated to Canada in 1989. He was educated at Moscow State Stroganov University of Fine and Industrial Arts and earned an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan (1993). His work has been presented to international acclaim, notably: Ukrainian Institute of America (New York); Center for Contemporary Art (Warsaw, Poland); Soros International Center for Contemporary Art (Kyiv); National Museum of Art (Ukraine); Antoni Tapies Foundation (Barcelona); Artspace (Sydney); National Museum of Contemporary Art (Belgrade); National Museum of Art (Lithuania); 2002 São Paulo Biennale; International Incheon Biennale (South Korea); Volta 5: Age of Anxiety (Basel) and widely in Canada including: Art Gallery of Hamilton; Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; MacKenzie Art Gallery (Regina); Dunlop Art Gallery (Regina); Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon); Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto); the Power Plant Gallery (Toronto); Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montreal; Winnipeg Art Gallery; Museum London; MacMaster Art Gallery (Hamilton) and Artspeak Gallery (Vancouver).

This exhibition is presented in collaboration with The Danyliw Foundation’s #FreedomHeartUkraine initiative, Barbara Edwards Contemporary and curator Wayne Baerwaldt.

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