Gallery Opening: How to Make a Delicious Tea

Opening the doors of the Art Metropole, located at 788 King St West in Toronto, I thought I had walked into the wrong building. This art exhibit had absolutely nothing to do with tea. No tea leaves, no liquids, cups, bags, pots or kettles of any kind were to be found. I looked around the L-shaped room – on the walls, on the ground and on the tables – and all I saw were four silk prints hanging from the walls, one from the ceiling and one draped over a table. These methods of display helped showcase the movement, dimension and flow of each of each piece. The images in particular were as follows: paper lanterns, a folded piece of paper (possibly a magazine), a blue shirt with a black undone collar, a carpet, some sort of wood, plaster and ceramic sculpture and a very interesting ghost-like bust with one eye-hole suspended in mid air. These observations led me to my first question of the night: why was this exhibit given the name how to make a delicious tea?

Fererico Del Vecchio and Ala Roushan, the curators of this project showcased by flip, were able to provide me with this very interesting, insightful and thought-provoking explanation:

“How to make a delicious tea is not a title that is directly derived from the project, but one that addresses ‘process’ in artistic production. We are usually interested in adapting titles from everyday situations around us. In this particular case it comes from a tea box, reducing the process of “how to make a delicious tea” into three simple steps: cup – tea bag – hot water. This can be quite humorous as of course there exists a huge extent when it comes to tea culture and the intricacies of the process of making a delicious tea. We saw this as a parallel to art making and contemporary production, where process can range dramatically, yet the success of the outcome is not a measure of that process.”

It was the opening night (Saturday, February 18th) for this flip project – “A vision and a project not specific to a site, but rather an evolving network of activities and locales.” These six pieces of art are silk prints of each artist’s previously exhibited works. Most of the silk prints still have colour bars on their edges representing the raw aspect of the canvas and helping to draw the eye to the type of canvas that it is. It should also be noted that this action of printing onto silk is simultaneously a documentation (of the artist’s original exhibited works), translation (onto a silk canvas) and discourse (encouraging debate and conversation). Pamphlets containing artist biographies, pictures of the silk prints, as well as a whole introduction/explanation of the show written by former C Magazine editor, writer and independent curator, Rosemary Heather were scattered around the cozy art nook. Here is an excerpt of what Heather wrote up for flip’s how to make a delicious tea:

“[It is] an ongoing accumulative project, reflecting on artistic production in terms of subtle and layered processes. It extends from the idea of the print, addressing the singularity of the original and implications of reproduction. The project is the re-representation of an image from an existing work transformed through reprint and shift in materiality. Silk is the support; it refers to changes in material perceptions and alludes to notions of hierarchy. It is this small shift that creates a new object, with a kind of conceptual blurriness, as it hovers between documentation and a ‘new work’. how to make a delicious tea expands with additional artist collaborations contributing specific work to this process. Located nowhere in particular, how to make a delicious tea exists of a version of itself that takes shape according to the context within which it touches down.”

In continuing with the idea that this project and art exhibit calls no specific place its home, all six prints that are currently entered in the show were created by six different artists from all around the world. Eloise Hawser who created ‘Untitled’ (the print of paper lanterns) is from the U.K. Martin Soto Climent who created ‘Dolcce Dolcce!’ (the print of a folded piece of paper/magazine) is from Mexico. Patrick Tuttofuoco who created ‘David Hasselhoff’ (the print of a ghost-like neon face suspended in mid-air) is from Italy. Per-Oskar Leu who created ‘Whatever Happens, I Love You’ (the print of a blue shirt and black collar) is from Norway. Lena Henke who created ‘Soil III’ (The print of carpet folds) is from Germany. Last but not least, Andrea Sala who created ‘Indiani’ (the print of a wood, ceramic and plaster spray-painted figure) is from Italy.

The way in which each artist chose to display their image was also quite interesting. Four of the silk prints were merely draped against Art Metropole’s white brick walls. Henke’s ‘Soil III’ was draped over a rectangular table in the middle of the room which gave it dimension; and what better place to display a print of carpet folds than in the middle of a room where a carpet usually would be? Hawser’s ‘Untitled’ was draped from the ceiling, opposite of Tuttofuoco’s ‘David Hasselhoff’. This placement was interesting as the movement from the air of the crowd allowed the silk print to flutter freely, but at the same time this long and tall print almost acted like a stand-in fourth wall which married with the art space quite nicely giving the illusion that the space had four walls and was an entirely different room itself.

how to make a delicious tea runs until March 16th, then continues its journey around the globe. It will continue to grow as different artists contribute to it. The beauty of this project is that none of the prints have to fit within a certain genre per se, because once they are printed, the silk canvas adds many layers to the actual representation, meaning and artistic individuality of each piece.

The doors for how to make a delicious tea‘s opening night were at 6:30pm, and just a few minutes past, the cozy gallery, with exposed ceiling and creaking wood floors, was filled with art enthusiasts, friends of the gallery owners and friends of the show curators. Curiosity for this project is certainly an indication that no matter where flip’s project travels, it is sure to draw a crowd.