Artist Feature: Gabriella Solti

Gabriella Solti is a Hungarian-Canadian visual artist who explores the role and value of labour and skill in the formation of identity & community. Her multidisciplinary practice encompasses drawing, print-making, book art, participatory projects, and accessible technology.

She holds a MSC (Computer Science) from Budapest's Eötvös Loránd University, a BFA from Emily Carr University, and an MFA from Western University. Her work has been exhibited in Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, & the US and acquired by museums and special collections libraries across Canada & Europe.

"As an artist, I’ve embraced symbols and notations as expressions of the sublime"

"I believe that art is a catalyst for community building and personal growth"

I’ve been interested in signs, symbols, and notations since my studies in advanced mathematics. As an artist, I’ve embraced symbols and notations as expressions of the sublime — not just as expressions of the functional or communicative. My studio practice is influenced by linguistic writing systems and by graphic notation systems in music, particularly Iannis Xenakis’s innovative diagrams at the intersection of music, architecture, and advanced mathematics. I’m also inspired by visual representations of literary works, such as contemporary Japanese poet Gozo Yoshimasu’s visual writing style. These interests have led to work that deals with notations in diverse media. My first letterpress book, The Sensory Delights of Text, is composed of handwritten editorial marks and critical comments removed from their original context on essay manuscripts. And my Crossword Canon, a quartet for “unmusical” vocal performers, uses only squares and arrows for notation, a system based on a linearized crossword.

 

More recently, my interest has turned toward rule-based drawing for which verbal notations serve as instructions. This work includes a series of greyscale photographs of wrinkled paper that I colour based on elaborate sets of instructions devised in advance. The resulting drawings speak to the cohesive aesthetics that instructions can produce and also to the inadequacy of language and complexity of interpretation.

 

I’m now creating more elaborate compositions from photographic images of folded, crumpled, or torn papers representative of mundane daily activities — loose leaf, diary and calendar pages, craft paper, personal cheques. I’m curious how visual representations change when colouring instructions aren’t based on formal considerations but on statistical data (such as demographic and economic reports from Statistics Canada) that reflect our economic and cultural realities. I wonder how the resulting drawings will speak of their subtle origins.

 

I’m also committed to engaging the public through participatory art projects. I believe that art is a catalyst for community building and personal growth for people of all ages. This August, I'll team up with fellow artist Molly Miksa to produce Botanical Sunprints: A Collaborative Visual Mapping of London’s Native Flora at Satellite Project Space. We’re inviting Londoners to help us map the plant life of a London park using one of the earliest photographic processes — the cyanotype (also called sunprint or blueprint). Participants will learn about the cyanotype technique while learning methods for identifying and classifying native flora.

Gabriella Solti is an artist on the London Arts Council's London Artist in Residence roster and works in our Education and Health programs. She is a three-time recipient of project funding through the City of London's Community Arts Investment Program (CAIP), administered by the London Arts Council. Her previous CAIP-supported projects are From Foraging to Forging Communities (in collaboration with visual artist Lynette de Montreuil) and The Animated Life of Everyday Objects (in collaboration with visual artist Tegan Moore).

Gabriella Solti and Molly Miksa's Botanical Sunprints, also supported by CAIP, is a community-engaged art project involving events and workshops that are free to the public and suitable for all ages and abilities. It will take place at Satellite Project Space (121 Dundas Street) from August 12 to 26, 2018.

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