Kelly Grace | Grace Land
May 9 - 25

Artist Reception:
Saturday, May 18 @ 3-5 pm
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Presales open Thursday, May 2 at 10 am, in-person, online, and over the phone at 613-729-0003. Please contact the gallery if you'd like to view the works in-person.

Wall Space Gallery is pleased to present Kelly Grace’s latest solo exhibition, Grace Land. Throughout this body of work, Grace focuses on the powerful act of spectatorship and the spaces of imagination and escapism that open up to us in a darkened theatre. Grace Land celebrates the immersive act of viewing and the complex dynamics of seeing and being seen through painted, cinematic worlds infused with vintage culture. Building up layer upon layer of paint, she works back into and removes layers until her figures exist in teal-blue atmospheres that feel weathered with time. Grace’s painted scenes present as old photographs or video stills enveloped in mysterious narratives of adventure — moments temporarily disconnected from their context that invite her viewers to step into the shoes of her female protagonists.

The alternative cinema provides a space for a
cinema to be born which is radical in both a political and an aesthetic sense
and challenges the basic assumptions of the mainstream film…Hence it is the birth
of the long love affair/despair between image and self-image which has found
such intensity of expression in film and such joyous recognition in the cinema

- Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative

In this exhibition in particular, Grace uplifts strong female figures; lead investigators, chief inspectors, or your everyday woman facing the unknown with a baseball bat at-hand. Her titles offer narrative spurs, as in Receptionist by Day, suggestive of a double-life, in which a seemingly unsuspecting red-headed woman sits at a typewriter
casting a sharp glance at an event beyond our gaze. Drawing roughly from the eras of the 50s to the 90s, Grace retroactively casts her female characters in roles of power, who in their own era would have fallen prey to the typecasting of women into diminutive roles.

"At first glance, these paintings capture ordinary moments: a woman on a journey, a protagonist with “hero energy” or individuals seated in rows engrossed in a cinematic encounter. Yet, beneath the surface lies a deeper exploration of perception, escapism, and the allure of the silver screen. Through this body of work, I aim to explore the relationship between past and
present, reality and illusion, while celebrating the enduring magic of art
inspired by film.

- Kelly Grace

  • Double Feature (Colour Study)
    Acrylic on yupo paper
    8 x 9 3/4 in.
    Framed by Wall Space

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  • Leader of the Investigation (Colour Study)
    Acrylic on yupo paper
    8 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.
    Framed by Wall Space

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  • Matinee (Colour Study)
    Acrylic on yupo
    8 x 8 in.

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Film theorist Laura Mulvey, in “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, compares the screen to a mirror, and the act of associating our persona with those of the actors on screen to the moment of self-recognition in the ‘mirror stage’ of human development theorized by psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. For Lacan, the mirror stage is the first instance where children see themselves as a whole individual – a person that can see and be seen. Grace artfully acknowledges through
painting the ways in which the cinematic screen plays with the psychological and power dynamics of viewing, allowing us to see ourselves mirrored, and expand our sense of self to another.

Grace also turns her ‘lens’ onto the audience as subject, as in Double Feature, where a theatre audience sits transfixed in the glow of the screen unbeknownst to our gaze. In doing so, Grace points to our cultural fascination with the capability of film and television to suspend our sense of reality and transport us to a completely 'other' time and place. Her 3D works, some illuminated as lightboxes, nod to the film industry’s adoption of 3D cinema in the 1950s to intensify the immersive experience and bring a joyful moment of wonder to audiences. This glance into the past reflects back our contemporary advancements and fascination with virtual reality and its potential effects on the future of immersive storytelling.

"The use of 3D glasses adds depth to the cinematic experience, my paintings aim to add layers of meaning to the viewer's perception, inviting them to look beyond the surface and into the deeper emotions and narratives at play...As this theme of the hero’s journey is forever being explored in my work, I remain hopeful that visiting “Grace Land” will take each viewer on a journey and offer a fleeting escape from life, not unlike the film viewing experience itself."

- Kelly Grace

Grace’s passion for entertainment media and retro aesthetics combine into purposefully open-ended revisionist narratives, sowing the seeds for imagination to create interlacing stories
between her paintings. Grace Land brings strong female figures to the forefront, actively counteracting the traditional roles historically attributed to women in film. Though her works feel like aged polaroids, they maintain crisply contemporary undertones giving Grace the space to envision narratives beyond the sociocultural structures of her beloved eras past.

- Tiffany April, Curator

Kelly Grace is an established artist living and working in Toronto, ON. She was born in
Toronto in the 70s, and raised in the rural area of Stouffville, Ontario. Growing up, Kelly was surrounded by creative influences. She pursued arts training at Sheridan College in Oakville where she studied Interpretive Illustration for three years and developed her style of acrylic painting.

As an artist, Kelly Grace's main goal is to make an impression. She uses painting as her way of interpreting and sharing with the world the beauty that she always sees on a daily basis. If she can convey this beauty accurately to the viewer then she has succeeded. If Kelly's work resonates and stays with a person after they have seen it then she has done her job. As her work is about memories and nostalgia, Kelly hopes that it embodies this timeless feeling of escape and preservation.