Origins & Futures | Laurena Finéus, Yomi Orimoloye, and Ranajit Sinha
December 3 - 23
Artist Reception: Thursday, December 15 @ 5 - 7 pm
Wall Space Gallery is thrilled to close our 2022 year with Origins & Futures, a group exhibition featuring Laurena Finéus, Yomi Orimoloye, and Ranajit Sinha. Each artist, through their respective language of painting approaches structures of the self - how we form, preserve, and reinvent our identities. All three artists express the ways in which their lived experiences as part of Haitian, Nigerian and Indian diasporic/dyasporic communities has shaped their personal development.
Laurena Finéus, Le Jardin de Mackandal, acrylic and oil on canvas, 36 x 48 in.
Laurena Finéus’ vibrant worlds draw from her Haitian-Canadian dyasporic experience. Her canvases collapse historical timelines, combining familial archives with the broader turbulence of Haiti’s political and social history. Finéus champions tales of resilience in order to restructure the lens through which Haiti is viewed. Deep research into historical figures and rich Haitian culture processed through the act of painting becomes a means for Finéus to reconcile her connections to multiple origins.
Finéus’ construction of imagined spaces draws from a distinctly non-Western approach, linked to a tradition of Haitian artworks such as those of Georges Auguste (b. 1933). Finéus credits her understanding of visual narration to Haitian scholar Michel Rolph-Trouillot (1949-2012) and his writing in ‘Silencing the past’ (1995). She departs from the colonialist perspective of art-making taught in Western institutions, and instead embraces the bold freedom to invent using patterned, multiplicitous, and fragmented planes of spaces - untethered from reliance on classical perspective. She seamlessly intertwines layered narratives of constructed memories of a homeland twice removed, colonial exploitation, and civil unrest. Finéus’ depictions of familial and community resilience are much needed reminders that our anchoring roots traverse space and time.
Laurena Finéus, Are you free my daughters?, acrylic and oil on canvas, 72 x 48 in.
Turning towards introspection is the work of Yomi Orimoloye, a Nigerian-born painter whose geometric abstractions explore the complexities of self-formation. Yomi’s figures appear to be in constant transitions, often hosting many faces and forms. Each character exists in tumultuous assemblages where dualistic divisions between gender, race, social expectations and psychological spaces begin to blur. Deeply interested in inter and intra human relations, Yomi’s distinctive figures tell stories of intimacy between the self and others.
“I am deeply fascinated by topics of individuality and stories of people who, like me, find themselves outside the confines of societal, cultural and/or religious expectations. My work traverses my mind as I seek to establish a relationship between myself, other selves, and the world around me.” - Yomi Orimoloye
Yomi Orimoloye, Keep It Together Baby (We Love You), oil on canvas, 18 x 26 in.
At times, Yomi’s figures transmute into almost pure geometric form. His sensitivity to colour, movement of forms, and the interaction therein suggest human-like softness and tensions of balance – a suspension that feels at once solid but at risk of collapsing in a breath. Yomi’s chimerical figures bring together the multiple façades and internal turmoil that encompass the navigation of daily life.
Yomi Orimoloye, Duel/Duet, oil on canvas, 26 x 26 in.
Similarly concerned with the inner scaffolding of the self and its reception through social lenses is the work of Ranajit Sinha. Sinha pushes the boundaries between painting and sculpture to explore the spiritual and social constructions behind his Indian-Canadian identity. Through the modification and exposure of the canvas support, Sinha brings a sense of fluid changeability to the time-worn idea of the stable wooden stretcher. A skeletal framework for the draping canvas, the exposed bones of the stretcher become a metaphor for the armature of the spiritual self.
”I have a relationship with two geographic regions, two physical spaces that are located on the opposite sides of the globe but overlap each other in the internal space of my body and even deeper, my mind. This duality has played an important role in every aspect of my personal and artistic life…My proposed ongoing project titled Embodiment of Identity is multi-layered, and emphasizes the non-physical evolution of abolishing and renewing one’s identity. This idea originates from my observation of Hindu funeral rituals, where the body is burnt to charcoal, setting the soul or the subtle body or Jiv-Atma, free to take a new physical body or form. My art process goes through a similar cycle: an idea takes a form, develops, and is projected in a medium to create a new form, a new artwork. The process continues thereafter giving birth to a new concept which goes through the same phases of the cycle spawning a new identity each time.” - Ranajit Sinha
Ranajit Sinha, Disseminate, wood burning and acrylic on plywood and canvas, 54 x 46 in.
Sinha seems to be hunting for the origins of our inner world – where is it that we harbor the self? In Life Comes From Life the artist has included a digital print rendition of his own DNA scan in blues, reds, and greens. We are reminded that we are all born from abstract code within ourselves, genes which structure our physical and psychological form. The contrast between Sinha’s abstraction of DNA and the raw presence of wood ties together the conceptual and the sensual.
The delicacy of Sinha’s wood-burning combined with the natural growth lines of trees create topographical maps of the human figure. Sinha’s references to growth and burning away, inspired by the Hindu funeral ritual Jiv-Atma, mirror his conviction that the self is not a solidified form but an ever-changing process of transformation. Sinha’s charred figures, surrounded by the unsteady space of torn canvas, become emblems of the transitory self.
Ranajit Sinha, Life Comes From Life, wood-burn, plywood, self-DNA digital image on canvas, acrylic, cut out wooden letters on plywood and canvas, 60 x 48 in.
Finéus, Yomi, and Sinha offer personal reflections on identity formation and growth within their multi-national backgrounds, drawing from experiences both lived and passed down through generations. Through painting, each artist uniquely unravels the threads of race, spirituality, and familial and colonial histories that create the delicate knot of the self. - Tiffany April, Curator
Laurena Finéus is a Haitian visual artist, educator and art administrator specializing in painting. She was born and raised in Gatineau, Québec, and is currently based between Ottawa, ON and New York, NY. Finéus’ work has been exhibited at the Ottawa Art Gallery (2021), Karsh-Masson Gallery (2021), the Ottawa school of Art (2021), Art mûr (2019) and Galerie 115 (2019-2020), among others. Her work is held in a range of private collections internationally and is a graduate from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She was the recipient of the Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance Grant (2021), exhibited as a finalist for the Salt spring National Art Prize (2021), the Edmund and Isobel Ryan Visual Art Scholarship (2020), and the Ineke Harmina Standish Memorial Scholarship (2019). Passionate about black Canadian history and empowering her community through art, Finéus has previously facilitated a range of bilingual workshops for the Ottawa Art Gallery, Arts Network Ottawa, la Majeur Haute Spécialisation en Arts and l’Association Canadienne-francaise de l’Ontario.
Yomi Orimoloye is a Nigerian-born, self-taught visual artist who lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. In 2019, Yomi obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Ottawa. Despite his academic background in science, he always felt the urge to create visually. He developed an interest in drawing at a young age, drawing images from cartoons and biology textbooks. At 16, Yomi reolcated from Lagos to Toronto where he attended high school and enrolled in an art course that allowed him to express himself and develop his skills. Today, Yomi works with a variety of media including drawing, acrylic and oil painting, digital and mixed media.
Ranajit Sinha is a contemporary Canadian artist. He was born and raised in New Delhi, India, and is currently based in Ottawa, ON. His sculpted paintings cause the viewer to physically engage in the subjective act of discovery. Through visual representations, his work reflects tangibility and the sentient reality of changing identities. Sinha received his BFA degree from Delhi College of Art, New Delhi, an MFA in Print Making from Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan in India, and an MFA degree in Painting from Central Washington University, with a teaching assistantship grant. During this time he was awarded the National Academy Award, All India Fine Arts & Crafts society (AIFACS), and the National Research Grant award. Sinha has exhibited nationally and internationally, including the National Academy of Fine Arts Gallery, New Delhi, India; Sarah Spurgeon gallery, Ellensburg, WA, USA.; the Varley Art Gallery, Unionville, Canada; Canadian Sculpture Center, Toronto; Agora Gallery, Chelsea, New York; and Saw Video, Ottawa, ON, Canada.