Mike Weiss Gallery is pleased to present Canadian artist Kim Dorland's third solo exhibition at the gallery, a tour-de-force of large-scale works on canvas that transport us to a place of heightened psychological portent as they transfix us with an undeniably sensual physicality. Known for his thick impasto marks and near-sculptural effect, Dorland’s newest body of work amps up recent color palettes, returning to fluorescent oranges and penetrating, acrid greens, liberating their application into a looser expression of drips and washes. The title, Ghosts of You and Me, besides being a Leonard Cohen lyric and woeful personal reflection, alludes to the at-times otherworldly glow that now grips his subjects: lone drunks and sleepwalking dreamers, ghostly clearings in dark forests, and glimpses of the artist so engulfed in his own creative act, that we, as viewers, seem to hover at their perimeter.
No matter how visionary the subject matter, it is a newly evolved graphic and color sensibility that drives this body of work, via hyper-saturated hues and relentless, ever-variegated blacks. Continuously influenced by historical Canadian landscape painters The Group of Seven, Dorland’s outdoor scenes venture into darker, more psychological realms, with interiors and single portraits that bring to mind the scumbled figures of Francis Bacon and Eugène Leroy. A prolific and energetic worker, Dorland typically keeps numerous paintings measuring 6 by 8 feet cooking at once in his studio, producing clusters of enigmatic narratives and loose-lying resemblances. As a result, these seemingly disparate bodies of work form subtle, unlikely connections through their shared material concerns, tangential colors, and ghostly parallels.
The mysterious death of legendary Canadian painter Tom Thomson is the chilling subtext of The Painter and His Canoe, told by Dorland in a narrative of stark yet bilious greens and blacks, while in The End, epiphanic sun-flares of acrid yellow and alizarin burst through a dark stand of trees, evoking Jay deFeo's The Rose in composition. Three Arms depicts the artist’s wife Lori, a recurring muse for Dorland, this time emblazoned with neon color fields and the residual optic ghosting of one of her limbs. Finally, in Zombies (The Year That Was), we witness glowing silhouetted figures slouching through wooded territory as if toward some unseen rite, nodding to the ubiquitous impact of Canadian myth and geography, while perfectly distilling the artist's idiosyncratic mix of bad-boy youth culture and studio craftsmanship.
In early years, Dorland’s imagery could be found dominated by disaffected youth, death-metal graffiti etched into birch tree trunks, taxidermy animals, and ominously bare forests. Now, married with two sons, we find the artist’s canvases subtly declaring a love for paint itself, with an Op-Art palette and luscious drippings – at times as loose as Morris Louis – that belie a lurking psychological gravitas. Ghosts of You and Me transcribes Dorland’s successful transition to another level, one of enduring scale and bravura, and of subsuming raw energy into an offbeat maturity.
Kim Dorland (b. 1974 in Wainwright, Alberta) lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, and has shown extensively around the world. His work is included in prominent public and private collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Musée d'art Contemporain de Montréal, the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection, the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas, the Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation in New Jersey, the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Neumann Family Collection in New York, the Richard Massey Foundation in New York, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Sander Collection in Berlin, and The Oppenheimer Collection at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, MO.