Conversations: Leo Alexander Krukowski

Leo Alexander Krukowski, a softspoken 26 year old, is a Canadian artist based in Toronto. Leo’s projects probe at the meaning of what art is, how meaning changes over time, and the context of materials. As Leo explores new concepts he pursues new media creating a blend of techniques  throughout his work. 

 

Grounders sat down with Leo to discuss his latest series, Lionize, future projects, and his inspirations. Keep reading for the full interview. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself before we get into your work?

Right now, I’m sitting in a place called OFFSITE Concept Space where I will be having an exhibition from the sixth of January until the middle of February. The open invitation will be on my website and that is the most important thing to know about me, right here right now.

Will pieces be on sale as well?

They will.

All part of Lionize?

There will be one or two other things included but it will all about Lionize. Right now I am also speaking with a computer scientist named Xavier Snelgrove and we are working on making procedurally generated series of short videos based on my pieces – based on components that are extracted from my photos and analyzed by a computer.

[confirmed: Xavier has contributed a video experiment called Subjective Functions x Lionize]

[note: there is also an installation by Calder Ross, the curator and director of OFFSITE, which is based on Lionize]

What do you mean by procedurally?

It means algorithmically generated. So, we will feed images of Lionize through a program by Xavier called Subjective Functions which will learn, through viewing them them, a language.  Sometimes there are patterns of light and dark, sometimes there are dots of green, sometimes there is a fancy border… It will look at all these traits as components of the entity it is looking at, make a language based on them, and express sentences in that language. But, the way this program speaks is in images; so, it might create images and pieces in this series that don’t actually exist. For example, we may ask it to interpret the Mona Lisa in that language from my work.

Do you think it would be possible for any of these languages to be robust enough to create useful or relevant images?

I think technology is much more useful than art as a baseline. I don’t think it’s about usefulness necessarily, it’s about exploration in the same way these (Lionize) are an exploration of what a painting is, what an image is, what bronze is and what history and art are. Because these all contribute to the materiality of the project. The videos that Xavier is producing are treating data and information as a material.

So, coming back to Lionize, what is the process?

For those of you who are not sitting with us right now, this is one of the pieces from the series. It is the eighth piece and it is called Unseeing. This is what it sounds like [see below]. This is the remnant of the investment, which was used to produce the second piece in the series called Self Portrait. The process I am using is an adaptation of what is called the Lost Wax Process which is 4500 years old and allegedly invented by the Prince Sennacherib of Assyria.

The way you do that is you make a mold of an object, you pour wax into the mold, you remove that wax and cover it in ceramic, you melt the wax out through a hole, pour bronze into the hole, and then break the ceramic once it cools and hardens.

This is part of the mold that was facing the painting, so this is the texture of the second piece.

What is the wire for?

 a portion of the mold
a portion of the mold

When you pour in the bronze there is a thermal shock to the shell which can crack it or warp it. As the bronze cools it contracts which can warp its shape. This wire is to add strength against unexpected tensions.

Are you working with multiple people to produce this series?

Right now, I am working with a company called Artcast based in Georgetown. The owner is named Marcus Knoespel and he is doing a lot of the work directly with me. They are a really good company.

On your website you mentioned that most of your work is exploratory. What have you learned in your exploration through Lionize?

It’s hard to put into words. I’ve learned a lot about death, and the ends of things. About half of the paintings I used for this are destroyed in the process – and they are not my paintings with the exception of one of the recent ones. So, I am learning what it feels like to destroy something very personal to someone else to achieve some kind of ideal – which is something happens all the time to people who are hurt or abused or exploited.

I’ve learned a lot about appropriation. I was concerned about that at first. I am less concerned about it now. I’ve learned for me, the sensation of appropriation requires assuming the identity of someone else which I am not doing. I am very firmly seated as the person who is making these sculptures, not the person who painted them. I’ve learned a lot about durability as the absence of fragility rather than as something protecting fragility. It’s been a sad and painful process. Self Portrait is from a picture someone painted of me, and it is not one of the paintings that survived. So in making this I learned what it felt to tear apart a portrait of my own face, and then also have it gone in the final piece.

How did that make you feel?

Serious. When I do things like this it makes me want to earn the position of what I am doing.

When you mention durability and the feeling of destroying other people’s work. How do you feel about your work being destroyed?

Oh, it’s really hard to destroy this.

Do you mean physical or emotionally?

All of them. To be serious, it’s hard to destroy these because destruction is implicit in the process. When the vector you are on is degradation anyways they are really good at absorbing abuse.

Do you keep photos of the paintings before you use them?

No.

Is your main format normally sculpture?

No, it’s kind of new to me. The last artwork I made – you know how I said that these I made of art and history? The last artwork using this metaphor was made partly of privacy. It was a book of pictures that I made over the course of two and a half years. It was my third or fourth attempt at making it. The thing I did before that was study the French painter Delacroix and make kind of mashed up copies of his pictures. Before that I mostly painted pretty birds and trees.

You mentioned, on your website, that you get more inspiration from Asian art over Western. What are the main differences between the two?

One of them is an element of service. I was sitting at this table yesterday with an artist who is a friend of mine named Ekow Stone. He draws a lot of imagery from his roots growing up in the West Coast looking at Haida and Coast Salish art and his heritage from Africa – to engage with the spiritual symbols of his ancestry. We were talking about that yesterday and there is a greater sense of seriousness as soon as you get out of the European tradition. It is about honouring things. I don’t really buy the whole European notion of art being about expressing yourself. I don’t feel creative when I make work. It doesn’t feel like something I made. It feels like it’s something that I found either inside myself or outside of myself – and I’m trying to honour that.

When people look at your work, what do you imagine is the ideal response from someone looking at your work?

A moment of honesty. I describe a lot of my work as being quiet.

Funny because the pieces in Lionize make sound.

I’m talking with a local musician, Just John, about organizing a series of musical soirées where drummers from various percussion traditions would perform on pieces from Lionize. This, which is now a secret between me and Grounders, might happen at some point in 2018.

What was the question? Oh the perfect circumstance.

A few years ago, I made a work of art that really humbled me and taught me about being honest and I haven’t really made anything for someone else since about a quarter of the way into that project. I know that what I am engaging with, with my work, is vital and true enough that if people who are in a position to engage with it, to meet it, they will. And I’m really only concerned with my relationship with it. Not that I don’t appreciate my audience. I have a lot of people who don’t notice my work. I’ve also had people who spend an afternoon staring at a piece, and people who laugh and cry. Those are all amazing responses including the people who didn’t notice them.

 

After Leo’s showcase at the offsite space he will have another show at The Peäch Gallery (722 College)

You can also stay up to date with Leo by following his Instagram

 

 

 

Future of Streetwear

Fashion really embodies what the trends of the streets are, at that given time. This is how streetwear essentially first started, what brand you say sports being played in, what brand people were hanging out in. People are defining a lot of product as high fashion right now. Can a crewneck really be high fashion? If the materials are quality, and they are shown on the runway, does that make them “high fashion”? In my opinion, not at all, this is almost disrespectful to the people really trying to make a high fashion brand model. Clothes will a small styling change up and coloration to what is essentially streetwear are the ones essentially destroying this traditional model.

It isn’t essentially one vs the other, one better than the other, it is just now apparent how brands are taking this sly business motive to make very wearable clothing, a high fashion status. This means charging $1500 dollars for a sweater is nothing but a number of collectors buying this clothing. Brands known for this recently are Balenciaga, Vetements, and Gucci just to name a few.

Their inspiration and style are obviously repurposed from streetwear using tracksuits, hoodies, and athletic sneakers as the main flagship items. Balenciaga is doing a great job of marketing these new items, as it was named the top profitable clothing brand in the world.

Their items such as the triple S Sneaker sell out in a matter of minutes after being released online. The brands figured out that it is all about marketing the product to the younger age brackets, essentially millennials “The ecosystems have changed, particularly where the much-discussed millennials are engaging with fashion, style, and culture. For a luxury brand, it’s very important to understand how that dynamic is changing as our engagement with the millennial segment is growing quite dramatically,” says Robert Triefus, chief marketing officer at Gucci in a recent interview. This is thinking about the future, yet affecting today’s markets immensely.

The streetwear trend is heavily influencing today’s fashion collections using a street staple. My favorite that has recently been done Is the Balenciaga cap. The ball cap has been a classic item in clothing culture since the beginning of time. An outrage for this style of the cap had been seen everywhere when baseball starts to gain trends in the US.

 

Balenciaga reinterpreted the ball cap hat, adding their custom typeface font and dressing it with a silky, made of Italian cotton. This basic hat creation by the high fashion house is an example of developing a very wearable product, with a high end feel and look coming in at a 385-price tag. For a long time, luxury brands kept their distance from publications and the “lower end” of what fashion was. They did not want to be accessible or have younger people wear the items they produced.

We can see these statements being reversed completely in 2017 and for years to come. Fashion is a never-ending creative expression that is always changing to better the system. Fashion has changed a lot over the years, especially now expressing a new theme revolving around retro styles and 90s culture. The luxury brands are utilizing these trends to secure their positions in younger culture today, to have access to controlling the future of fashion.

 

By James Dais

@Jamesdais_

 

Music 003: Kid Lucifer

Kid Lucifer is a garage band based in Montreal and originating from Vancouver, they just released a new EP “Black Moon.” Their sound is edgy, dramatic, and faintly reminiscent of indie music from 2012. We had the chance to chat with the band’s drummer, Quinn, about the band and EP. Click the link the photo to listen to the EP or check it out on iTunes while you read the interview below. 

 

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your history with music?

I’m Quinn, I’m 21 and I play drums in Kid Lucifer. I grew up around music thanks to my father, who was and still is a huge music fan. I was fortunate enough to constantly be exposed to amazing music at a young age-Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Rush and King Crimson were household staples. I’ve been interested in music since I can remember, but really started exploring writing and recording in high school after taking guitar classes. From there I fell in love with bass, started out drumming about five years ago and haven’t stopped since.

 

How did Kid Lucifer come together? 

Kid Lucifer is myself, Sam Schuette on bass, Henry Girard on vocals and rhythm guitar, Linus Heyes on lead guitar and Gabby Des on keys and guitar. Sam and I met in grade one and have been friends for over 15 years. Kid Lucifer in its first form started shortly after the two of us met Henry at a Pity Sex concert in Vancouver. We started playing together as a three piece and found an instant musical chemistry. Linus, Henry’s cousin, joined the band after we met him at a local festival in Henry’s hometown. The four of us moved together as a band to Montreal at the end of this summer to pursue music, and we met Gabby, our newest addition to the band, at our first show in Montreal.

 

Was there one point if inspiration for this EP? Does it tell a story?

This EP definitely represents who were are right now as a band and as people. We really discovered our sound and what we wanted to say musically around the time we were in studio, and we developed a lot creatively. It was our first time with access to a proper studio, and we recorded shortly after Linus joined the band. Having that experience along with Linus’ creative input on the songs took the whole project to a new level. We actually recorded a full-length album and cut it down to these six songs that we’re most proud of and excited about, so it’s definitely a good snapshot of where we are right now.

 

What’s your favourite song on the EP and why?

It’s hard to choose, but my personal favourite has to be My Girl. It’s one of the first songs we ever wrote, and I love how simple, but catchy and dynamic it is. It’s also a riot to play live, for myself especially.

 

Why did you choose to include the acoustic version of My Girl in the project?

The first thing we ever recorded as a band in my bedroom back in B.C. was an acoustic version of the song. We recorded the new EP version last minute on our last day in studio for this project, and we were unsure whether or not to even record it. In the end we just loved the laid back vibe of that first version so much we couldn’t resist revisiting it.

 

Any shows people can look forward to?

We’re finishing off the year with a show with fellow Montreal band Rough Gentlemen at Bar Le Repaire on December 16th in Montreal. Nothing is set in stone quite yet for the New Year, but we’re booking dates, working on our first full-length record, and planning tour dates for the spring. We’re keeping ourselves busy.

 

EDIT: Unfortunately due to publishing delays this article was posted on December 16th but we hope Kid Lucifer had an incredible show

 

Stay up to date with Kid Lucifer by following them on Instagram.

THE VIEW FROM HERE

This event is an art show by Vancouver locals presented by the Past Five. All proceeds went to the BC Mental Health Foundation. 

 

We arrived at MIA at 11:00pm and were lead by a strip of yellow lights down some stairs to pay cover. After tossing our tens we worked through a small maze to the low ceilinged club. The event was winding down with around twenty people milling around. Artists had little nooks which they turned into immersive experiences of their art. 

 

VCTRTCHN’s work

 

The crowd was decked out in chains, baggy pants, and colourful sweaters. Many of the attendees were either artists or friends of the artists. Aided by some $5 drinks, the conversations about art flowed freely–the vibe was friendly and open. There were even rumours that Cole Spouse stopped in for a minute, which confirms that the show was definitely hip. Overall, we definitely recommend future events hosted by the Past Five.

Mescondi and Reece Voyer’s Photos

 

We highly recommend checking out the artists in the show, a couple of which are Grounders alum:

Lil’ DevDev

Katsutaka Inoue

Reece Voyer

David Leflurk – featured in Grounders Issue 3 read here

Mescondi – read his interview on the Grounders blog here

Noah Viloria

Amanda Glover

VCTRTCHN

Hunter Reilley

 

Noah Viloria’s work

 

This event was attended by Olivia and Ash from the Grounders Team

  Event Poster
Event Poster

Disposable Diary 002: San Francisco

The Disposable Diary series aims to showcase an intimate view of a place or experience. These photos will be taken by members of the Grounders team and artists to gain multiple perspectives.

Diary 002 was shot in San Francisco between October 8-11, 2017 by Shanice Bishop. 

To see more of Shanice’s work follow her on Instagram.

Artist Profile: Karen Davis

Name: Karen Davis

Location: Draper, Utah

IG: @karun_the_wzrd

 

At only 19, Karen Davis has established her artistic style as one that gives the audience a peak into another world. She has dabbled in photography for most of her life, and recently began experimenting with complimentary poetry that gives the viewer an honest look into her mind. Below is a short interview with Davis, and samples of her work.


Tell us a little bit about yourself! When did you start writing poetry and taking photos?

I started taking photos at a very young age. I have always had a love for photography, and I have taken a liking to poetry recently. I enjoy letting my feelings out and maybe having someone relate to how I’m feeling.

Your photos all seem to tell a story, could you share what some of them are? Or the thought process behind them?

Most of the stories that I want to show through my photographs are ones that I want someone to look at and wish they were in. They’re an escape from my reality to a dream world! It’s everything I see, everything I would want my life to look like.

  

 

Are you behind the entire production of your images or do you collaborate with other people?

I generally have the subject do their own makeup or I will do it, but I have collaborated with a makeup artist and they’re fun to work with.

What would you like people to get from your work?

I want my work to inspire people. I want to motivate them and make it easier for them to express themselves. I want to support and love everyone for each one of the ideas and the creativity they have. I also want them to look at my photographs and wish they were a part of my own dream world.

FORM // Preview

photographer: Sevan ichkhanian

event information

FORM is a design showcase for the second year fashion students at Ryerson University. The name has a double meaning to us, one one hand it represents fashion forms a vital aspect in creating our garments. While simultaneously meaning the forming of ourselves. As young designers and creatives we are in the constant search to find our aesthetics, styles, and most importantly ourselves. FORM is the representation of that crucial moment in any designers life when they come into their own and realize the kind of impact they can make.

          – Blake Harris, Organizer

 

Looks 009: Natasha Kimmell

Natasha Kimmell is a 21 year old photographer currently studying at the University of Oregon. Her portraits turn light into poetry, casting colourful shadows that create an illusion of intimacy between the viewer and subject. 

To see more of Natasha’s work check out her Instagram.

 

In my art I often find myself returning to themes such as youth, urbanism, womanhood, and sexuality, because these are things I relate to, and which challenge me on a daily basis. Overall, my greatest hope is to convey authenticity in my images. I take pictures as a way to explore my own thoughts, and to connect to a world which I often do not understand. In this way photography is more a way of life than an art form to me. That being said, I hope that others might see my photography and feel something familiar, like that special nostalgia you get looking at people you’ve never known in places you’ve never been. Or, at the very, least feel anything at all.