Admiral's Novak shares insights into gallery exhibition

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Gordan Novak from Admiral discusses the technique used to produce the artworks shown during the Monotype: The China Workshops - Part One exhibition at the Art Gallery of Swift Current.

Gordan Novak fittingly provided a grand finale to his gallery show Monotype: The China Workshops - Part One this past Friday, conducting a pair of artist walkthroughs to discuss the show.

Novak led a group during an afternoon tour and again for a coffeehouse evening crowd to wrap up the exhibition which had been on display from July 6 through to the end of August at the Art Gallery of Swift Current.

The eclectic works on display showcased material by artists from China, Japan, Croatia, Germany, France, the United States and Canada, with a group of assembled artists at an oil painting workshop in China branching into monotypes instead of canvass works.

"When I look at it now. . . I'm very proud to see that each artist has their absolutely own look, own technical ways that the print was done. And that's not an easy thing to do," Novak said during an interview days before the gallery show ended.

Feeling artistically constrained in the conference rooms at the Zanghjijaije International Oil Painting Art Workshop, the artists branched out into an under construction part of the hotel, and Novak and another artist located a large sheet of glass and began pulling monotype prints. The other artists at the workshop also wanted to branch into monotype work, and Novak noted he "worked like a maniac" late into the night over seven days to capture the artworks.

Novak told Friday afternoon's walkthrough group that he was "the director of the symphony" for the monotype program, and he saluted the artists for their passion during the project.

"I'm very proud of this whole show, especially now when I see it like this. When you have the same artist showing four works, It was all probably done in one night, and it is so different from each other. That's not too easy for artists, especially for artists working with somebody that they do not know, to be able to do that."

He praised the Art Gallery of Swift Current and Curator Kim Houghtaling's presentation of the show in only its second time presented outside of China.

"Every installation of any show, it shows it a different way. I have had part of this installed twice," Novak explained. "In China, when we finished with the work, we put a little show, one work of each artist. And that was the first installation and it did look good. Even some critics came and said that show was looking better than the show of oil paintings that artists were working hard on for two weeks."

"Then I had a show in a commercial gallery in Toronto where there was a different selection…but was more like a gallery show, bigger spacing and less works."

"This looks similar than how they looked in the make shift studio where we worked, because these, they have to dry hanging," Novak explained. "Must more than the other show. This looks like our working space."

Novak is hoping to recreate this monotype opportunity by attracting a group of international artists to his studio in Admiral.

"Now, the next step is we want to bring the world to the prairies, but not only their works. I have a bunch of artists that I am working very hard to get them to Admiral and to do the work here. Some Canadian and some international. It is not that easy."

For those that scoff at his idea, he points out that he as told it would not be easy to attract big international names when he started in Toronto. After being told he would not be able to attract big international names to work in Canada, he ended up working three years almost exclusively with Malcolm Morley, another six or seven year partnership with John Chamberlain, and he worked with Canadian First Nations artist Carl Beam right up to his passing.

"I think we can do it here," Novak said of his organizing a smaller group of eight to 10 artists to do mono print work in Admiral in 2014.

Organizations: Art Gallery of Swift Current

Geographic location: China, Canada, Toronto Swift Current

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