Corkin Gallery is pleased to announce Green Light, the debut solo exhibition of work by Christian Butterfield. The canvases in this presentation exemplify Butterfield’s preoccupation with painting as a medium for spatial and psychological investigation. Comprising deeply personal portraits from his Cheeks and Cold series and works from his Apology Flowers series, including two monumental new paintings, the exhibition showcases compositions that are at once representative and abstract, disordered and structured.
With many of his works, Butterfield starts by layering carefully selected newsprint clippings and fragments from publications, frequently sourced from the pages of Time Magazine, to create a new “canvas” upon the canvas. The composite backdrops not only serve to “timestamp” the work, but also contrast the freneticism of collage — and the relentlessness of media soundbites in today’s world — with the form and systematicity of historical portrait painting. It is at this intersection between order and disorder that Butterfield evokes and explores the psychological aspects of his relationship with a given subject, who is often a friend, family member, or current or former partner. He frequently superimposes graphic stripes over the collage as a strategy for obscuring emotional vulnerability, engaging viewers in a process of hide-and-seek whereby psychological states are both concealed and revealed.
“At a time when new interpersonal connections are few and far between, Christian has captured the innate experience of getting to know someone,” explains Jane Corkin, the gallery owner. “His unique pictorial language and strategic use of collage allows his subjects to slowly unveil themselves, inviting viewers to acquaint themselves with different emotional states.”
The two most recent paintings in the exhibition mark a departure from the collage and abstraction that characterize Butterfield’s earlier work. Anchored by the same surrealist blooms that define the earlier works in his Apology Flowers series, these canvases exhibit a sophisticated handling of paint to experiment with light and its sources. Bulbous petals are illuminated from multiple directions, serving to disorient and destabilize perspectives in the context of an otherworldly atmosphere.
Largely self-taught, Christian Butterfield (b. 1995) is an early-career artist working in his native Toronto. He was awarded a place at the AKIN Studio Program at MOCA Toronto in 2019, and has exhibited previously in group shows at Corkin Gallery. In 2020, Toronto Life featured one of Butterfield’s works, identifying it as one of “The 10 most covetable pieces at Art Toronto.”