A Complete History of Civilization. (Abbr.)

A Complete History of Civilization. (Abbr.)

Scott Sawtell

From March 5th to March 28th
Opening March 5th, 2010 from 7-10pm

Scott Sawtell is fascinated by the ways in which humanity defines its history through imagery and objects, and questions the authority of museums and textbooks to give absolute truth to this history. Scott writes that ‘as I walk through museums, I am struck by the separation that I feel with the objects. Even though the rooms are categorized into floors and rooms and display cases and didactics, all of the artifacts tend to flow with one another. This feeling is accentuated more when I get my pictures home or when I remember my experience afterwards. The same is true for art history. Once an artist in canonized, it is difficult to remember the messy and chaotic nature which led to the creation of most of the artwork we see. It is almost impossible for me to imagine Giotto having a “bad art day”.’ This division between the meanings of the object or image and the presentation is the basis for Scott’s current body of work. There are two main sources for the paintings: the museum or the art survey textbook. In both cases, Scott fractures, combine images and abstracts from the original images.

The abstraction serves three purposes. Firstly, it ruptures the picture which makes the painting self-referential. This self-reference illustrates the tension between the object and the artist’s personal experience. Secondly, the abstraction mirrors real life experience. The origin of the abstraction might be a glare on the lens, the structure of the display cases or reflections in the glass. This takes the attention away from the object and instead focuses attention on the artifice of its surroundings. Thirdly, it frees the objects from their conceptually limiting, modernist cases. In a supposedly post colonial, political and historical world, non-hierarchic and anarchic imagery offer reasonable alternatives.

Scott Sawtell is an art instructor at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, Ontario and Brock University in St. Catharines, On. He previously taught at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario. Scott has an M.F.A from the University of Waterloo and is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design. As well as maintaining a vital artistic career showing work across Canada and the United States, Scott has previously curated exhibitions for The Town of Newmarket, the City of Kitchener and Oakville Galleries.