“Fountain Mist – Juan Ortiz-Apuy (Montreal, QC)”
January 19 – February 20, 2018

Opening Reception: Friday, January 19, 7pm at Artcite Inc. with artist in attendance
Artcite Gallery Hours: Tues – Sat, 12:00 – 5:00 pm

Taking a visual cue from the language, surfaces, colours and materials of the contemporary retail store and shopping mall, Fountain Mist presents the viewer upon walking into the space with a lush and dazzling landscape that through vibrant shades of green, yellow and blue, echoes the visual rhetoric that often surrounds brand and product identity, namely, ideas of naturalness, freshness, exoticness, purity, etc. Resembling an abstracted garden of sorts, this sculptural installation animates the flora and fauna of commodity production in order to reveal objects not as inanimate passive entities, but rather as autonomous beings with a life and agency of their own.

The installation is composed of two parts, collages and geometric structures in the middle of the floor. These structures are modular and attempt to reference the armatures and shelves used in product display. The main objects displayed are mass-produced, chintzy plastic shampoo bottles and liquid dispensers that have been stripped of labels and stickers, and are presented as generic consumer goods of aesthetic value. These products are also accompanied with two biomorphic 3D-printed sculptures, talismans and effigies, found objects, as well as plastic flowers and fruit. Together this sculptural landscape is meant to resemble a garden of sorts and explore the ways in which design and advertising are informed by anthropomorphic and zoomorphic qualities, more specifically, the way in which products are constantly profiled and infused as having human, animal or natural characteristics. Think of the FIDO dog, Apple or the label for any shampoo; there is usually a visual rhetoric that often surrounds brand and product identity with ideas of naturalness, freshness, exoticness, purity, etc. Juan is interested in precisely this process by which advertising and design often attempt to transform an object into a subject.

About the Artist

Juan Ortiz-Apuy was born in Costa Rica in 1980 and now lives and works in Montreal since 2003. He has a BFA from Concordia University, Montreal (2008), a Post-graduate diploma from the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland (2009), and a MFA from NSCAD University, Halifax (2011). Ortiz-Apuy often describes his installations as encyclopaedias of sorts that string together ideas and themes seemingly unrelated to each other, like in an erratic web of references, in which at points these sources exchange and come together, and at others they fall apart. Through juxtaposition, assemblage and collage, specific moments, ideas and materials are carefully woven together in these installations through a suggestive network of associations. Drawing from literature, theory, popular culture, design, and art history, he intends in this way to create a system that at one point begins to follow its own logic, vocabulary and energy. His work has been exhibited across Canada and internationally. Recent exhibitions include The MacLaren Arts Centre, SPOROBOLE Contemporary Art Centre, Gallery Birch Libralato, ARTSPACE, Eastern Edge, A Space Gallery and Quebec City Biennial: Manif d’Art 7. In 2011 he was the recipient of the Halifax Regional Municipality Contemporary Visual Art Award.

Fountain Mist – Critical Essay by Joshua Babcock, 2018.