It’s called Wurm Gallery: a small visual-arts space tucked between rows of rental videos inside the Invisible Cinema. The gallery is intimate and a fitting space for Rob Friday’s first art show – Pointed Creatures and a Man in All Directions.
Friday, sporting a hat, waistcoat and multicoloured tie, talks about his work with the passion and dedication of someone who has been creating art for the past 25 years.
“Getting the design out of head and onto paper is the big thing – after 25 years I’ve finally got my art together,” he says, laughing.
Friday’s intricate work incorporates shapes, urban-art patterns and indigenous imagery that connect together into abstract anthropomorphic forms. His paintings begin with a line drawing and then are slowly built upon using a combination of shapes and a four-colour palette combination.
Friday says he found his colour palette through trial and error – an indication of the time, energy and thought that goes into each painting.
“The reason I am doing this [the exhibition] now not only has to do with my ability to focus and having the time to do it,” writes Friday in an email. “It’s mostly because I’ve been very methodically developing my body of work over the last year and a half.”
In September 2010, Friday was selected for a juried show at the Beaux-Arts in Brampton, Ontario. One of the jurists was renowned Ojibway artist Daphne Odjig, whose work Friday had seen in a retrospective at the Museum of Civilization.
“I love her work, and her selection gave me the confidence to finally stage a solo show,” he writes.
Each of Friday’s paintings is very meaningful to him. The Ghost of the Mantis, for instance, was created after his grandmother died. The mantis is upright with an elderly stance, its face looking the viewer in the eye.
Friday relates how a mantis flew into his apartment one evening, just after he’d returned home from his grandmother’s burial.
“It was kind of a symbol – if you believe in that stuff – that she was coming to tell me. Who sees a mantis in the city? It would make sense that it would be something she [his grandmother] would come as, because it would be something I would notice,” he says.