With the rise of the digital age, younger generations have an increasing number of platforms and outlets to express themselves. In turn, emerging artists have a greater scale of themes to ground their work. Visual Arts Mississauga offers an opportunity for these artists to share their work and social commentary in Necessary Gestures.

Necessary Gestures features 11 emerging artists aged 18 to 30 from the GTA. The exhibition focuses on the experimental process in which artists use both traditional and new forms of media to create art.

Several artists on display use their work to speak about identity. Amrita Virdi’s “Displacement of Memory” depicts multiple scenes in a collage format. The scenes in this painting include a waterfall with a man lying underneath a tree, what appears to be the Taj Mahal, an elephant draped in a red cloak, and a shack that stands on stilts above the ocean. Virdi often experiments with varying shades of dark blues and warm yellows.

Virdi uses oil paint, collage clippings from magazines, and encaustic wax to achieve her style. Yet, Virdi’s diversity of mediums flow throughout the painting, appearing as if all the scenes relate to one another. Virdi’s fragmented imagery mirrors how memories do not follow a linear order, but are seemingly random moments interwoven together in our minds because of the emotions we attach to each memory.

Topics of identity also appear in Žana Kozomora’s “Sac,” a hand-cut vinyl sheet carved with intricate lace designs that represent Kozomora’s Bosnian heritage. Kozomora traced the designs from her mother’s crotchet table runner. Aside from this piece, Kozomora uses printmaking, drawing, video, and media installation to form a commentary on space and identity. Her work depicts feelings of both cultural displacement and cultural exchange.

Moving through the gallery, other pieces adopt a more abstract style.

Kenneth Jeffery’s “Ecdysis” is a sculpture built from a drying rack and inkjet printings of a Michael Jackson Thriller poster. Jeffrey creates his installations from disposable material, commercialized products, and mass media imagery. He combines unrelated materials into a unified object, offering a commentary on the digital age. Jeffery attaches a QR code to “Ecdysis” that directs viewers to a website where different images are displayed every day, emphasizing the changing trends in popular culture.

While Necessary Gestures offers an array of talented work, my favourite pieces include Amanda Baron’s “Paisley Island,” “Starshine 4,” and “Sunspots.” Baron’s mixed media pieces involve layers of painting, collage, drawings, threads, stickers, and glitter. Her imagery displays fairy-tale and mythical scenes using warm, sunset-like colours.

In “Paisley Island,” Baron depicts different types of flowers in pinks, purples, and reds with a background of mountains in deep blues and purples. Baron’s work intends to create a world that exists within ourselves. Her imagery expresses a state of being in our minds, rather than a physical space. Baron’s work conceptualizes how mixing traditional and new media can work harmoniously in evoking a response from the observer.

Whether it’s painting, digital collages, or sculptures, the artists of Necessary Gestures demonstrate how different forms of media can contribute meaning to society.

Necessary Gestures will be on display at Visual Arts Mississauga until February 19.

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