Derek Liddington: Reclining Nude, Sitting Fruit

November 12, 2015 – January 9, 2016

In this exhibition, Liddington records the impossibility of stillness through mark-making. From his documentation emerges a new series of abstract mappings that fasten drawing and performance to one another; an association that Liddington rigorously pursues within his practice.

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As the exhibition’s title suggests, living models and fruit arrangements—art historical leitmotifs that have been crucial to the development of representation and, later, abstraction—are employed as a point a departure from which Liddington unpacks the possibilities of observation and transcription. Further accentuating the still life’s affinity to historical painting, Liddington masks each one of his compositions under canvas rather than paper, reproducing the objects’ physical qualities through touch and, to some degree, memory.

In A man, not unlike me, sitting where I sit, leaning how I lean, drinking from my mug (2015)—a central work in the exhibition—a male model is situated in the studio, directed to embody Liddington’s posture and physical articulations. In this way, Liddington continues to interweave autobiography and art history, a dimension in his work for which he has become known. By emulating the artist’s physical tendencies, Liddington’s work, although based on traditional artistic devices such as the live model, reflects a contemporary body language that resists associations to any other epoch.

Once the model is in position, he is draped in a canvas, the folds and creases of the material responding to his body’s lines and contours. Liddington, using graphite, tracks the human form over a long period of time; a prolonged action that confronts the model’s suspended movement and Liddington’s documentation of it. As time passes, adjustments in the body and to the material occur, disrupting Liddington’s ability to represent the form precisely. As the canvas is lifted and stretched open, amendments and unresolved markings are revealed on the surface, serving as evidence of Liddington’s longing to overcome the impossible, and his succumbing to the inevitable effects of time and flux.

Derek Liddington (b. 1981) obtained his MFA from the University of Western Ontario and BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Recent solo exhibitions include Every moment can be traced back to the first time I felt the warmth of the sun touch my face, at Cambridge Galleries, Cambridge, Ontario (2014-15), It wasn’t until we closed our eyes that we could finally see what was there all along at aka Artist Run, Saskatoon (2015) and FLESH MARBLE LEAF AND TWIG at 8-11, Toronto (2015). Liddington’s work has been exhibited in numerous public settings, including The Sun Has Always Set From East to West, curated by Denise Markonish as part of Nuit Blanche, Toronto (2014). Liddington’s work has been shown at Art Berlin Contemporary (2013) and NADA New York (2014). Liddington has been the recipient of numerous grants, including the Emerging Artist Grant from the Toronto Arts Council and the Emerging Artist Grant from the Ontario Arts Council.