What The Hand Can Do

By December 5, 2011Uncategorized

I find myself increasingly fascinated by people who don’t make machines the centre of their universe, and particularly people who use their bodies and hands as the engine of their creative expression. This includes a whole gamut of people ranging from dancers to painters to shiatsu massage therapists.

I realize this is partly old-fashioned romanticism (i.e. “look at that valiant and quaint wood carver”) but I think it’s also an abiding interest in idiosyncrasy, the uncalculated, the uncertain. It may seem overly obvious but I think there is something risky about literally putting your body on the line.

This past weekend, I ran into the lovely and talented Stephen Andrews at a local performance. For the past thirty years, Stephen’s art has beautifully and smartly explored the tension between the mechanical and the analogue. His painting and drawings ingeniously borrow the look of photographic technology while giving them the poetic texture and poignant tone of the handmade.

I am super excited about a large-scale mosaic Stephen will be unveiling at the new Trump Towers in Toronto in January 2012. The mosaic is based on his monumental painting of a tightly-cropped crowd (The View From Here), and will play with viewing distance so that what appears abstract from one spot, miraculously resolves from another. I know it will be spectacular. I can never get enough of Stephen’s work or his surprising and democratic mind (which can move fluidly from discussing car commercials to the War on Terror to lamb tagine.) He is a deeply soulful artist and a brilliant alchemist and an eternally playful man whose unique combination of flair and substance infuses everything he does.

“The machine can never do what the hand can, which is to fail miserably. For it is around that failure that our being is constellated… The handmade lends a certain trustworthiness that cannot be assumed with the technologically produced image.”
—Stephen Andrews

p.s. Here is a blog of the mosaic installation. Amazing.