Ted Karkut Logo


"...Ted Karkut with Pret a Porter made a dress of flowers as though you could wear sunshine itself, and the warmth of summer, and the smell of blue sky....."

Taiga Bentley in Juror's Response for Florals 21 online exhibition at Aird Gallery Toronto, 2021

"Ted Karkut, an artist who works with found plant material to elevate nature in original ways.... makes the familiar unfamiliar by making installations with leaves, twigs, and other natural objects, instilling a sense of mystery, awe, and introspection... exploring human-environment interaction in urban environments."

"New Artist of the Week " series at EcoArtProject, July 2021

Bolder than expected: The 2018 Biannual Juried Exhibition at the GPAG
by Ben Gazzola

"...All are wall works, even if "poking" out from it, as with Ted Karkut's "indianyellow 1", whose golden curved black locust stems mime a shelter while threatening any who lean too close...."


"...I think the 30,000 ft. perspective in all your work/the aerial landscape topography in the geometric shapes, patterns and colors may have something to do with your spiritual attachment to a mountain in Tibet, but I'll let you and Gurdjieff work that out..."

John Timmins, musician and writer
indianyellow, Gallery 50, Toronto, October 2017

"......The piece that transfixed me, however, was "Not a Leaf Stirs": the wavery air of summer heat as we lie beneath a tree - as if the earth suspended its breath so that we might feel our own. ......"

Marianne Apostolides. author Sophrosyne: BookThug, 2014
(8 Haiku, Gallery 50, Toronto November 2015)

Eight Haiku Proposal

Haiku has been of decades-long interest to me. The eight chosen for this show have a deep effect on me, some for their Zen aspect and others in the way they make the ordinary sublime. Here they are, in no particular order, both in English translation and Japanese transliteration (romaji):

Going deeper In the waves no trace
And still deeper - remains, though I have swum there
The green mountains. with a woman.
Wake-itte mo wake-itte mo aoi yama Nami ni atokata mo nashionna to oyogishi na
Santoka 1882-1940 Yamaguchi Seishi 1901-1994

Not a leaf stirring: Appearing as if
How awesome nothing had happened, the brightness
The summer grove! of the midday sun.
Ugoku ha mo naku osoroshiki natsu kodachi Nanigato mo nakarishi gotoki hizakari nari
Yosa Buson 1716-1784 Nakamura Kusatao 1901-1983

Leaves falling, Two leafy hills
Lie one on another; Greenly reflecting
The rain beats on the rain. Each other.
Ochiba ochikasanarite ame ame wo utso Hikari-au futatsu no yama no shigeri kana
Kato Gyodai 1732-1792 Joso 1662-1704

Blowing from the west, Pressing my forehead
Fallen leaves gather On the green tatami,
In the east. The coolness!
Nishi fukaba higashi ni tamaru ochiba kana Suzushisa ya hitai wo atete ao-datami
Yosa Buson 1716-1784 Sono-jo 1649-1723

Ted Karkut, 2015

i am always fascinated when artists take familiar things and make them unfamiliar - it opens up the space to so much introspection and reflection. i found the mundane and inconsequential material - leaves, twigs, paper, bark - overwhelming, reminding me of mortality. for me, that emotion and sentiment is itself valuable as so much of our world seems afraid to even utter to ourselves that we will all fade away sooner or later and turn to dust and compost and finally reappear, perhaps as leaves, twigs...

the texture, muted colours, patterns invite me in to themselves and also to my own thoughts, giving it a meditative quality. it reminded me on some levels of gazing at a mandala...

Sanjay Talreja. filmmaker/editor/writer, November 2011

Natural coexistence: Urban Gleaning presents the earth and the city as one organism.
by Bjarke Madsen

It's rare that your first impression of an art show tickles your nostrils. At the Urban Gleaning group show, Stan Krzyzanowski 's 176 Slices quietly fills the space with the sweet smell of dried wood.

Mounted on the wall in neatly organized rows, cross-sections reveal the inner life of a tree. Bent and cracked from changes in humidity and temperature during its lifetime, they welcome the viewer's quiet contemplation of the intense life force of long-lived plants.

Fran Freeman 's two wall-mounted sculptures, Hive Consciousness, explore the link between the human body and the beehive.

Two seemingly sleeping androgynous bodies connect with the bees through their genitals, which have been replaced by pieces of beehive. Sound freaky? Not so. Freeman delivers a soft punch to our imagining of the human body.

The third artist of the Urban Gleaning trio is Ted Karkut , who showcases Shadow Pieces, approximately 130 carefully trimmed maple leaves attached to the wall with clay.

Its frail visual poetry becomes evident when you watch the small vibrations playing with the shadows on the wall. It's the joy of Zen without the pain of the lotus position.

The show doesn't focus on nature in the traditional sense. Nature and the city are perceived as one living organism and a playground for art, where all the toys are readily available. Urban Gleaning inspires the experience of Toronto.

NOW MAGAZINE | APRIL 19 - 25, 2007 | VOL. 26 NO. 33

Geumgang 2007 Artist's Proposal

Sectio Aurea (or the golden section, golden mean, golden rectangle) is the ratio of harmony that has been used since antiquity as it seems to embody aesthetically-pleasing proportions. This "divine" proportion can be expressed mathematically as 1.6180330887.....
In my submitted work "Sectio Aurea" I've approximated this ideal proportion as a starting point but I wanted to introduce an element of wordplay with the terminology: by using the "golden" petals of the plant helianthus tuberosa to fill the proportions of the "sectio" I arrived at the final result here. To give the image a final look of permanence I added a coat of cadmium yellow which is close to the natural colour of the flowers.
Through the use of actual petals, an abstract concept, sectio aurea, is given a grounding within the "real" world of nature.

Ted Karkut. 2007
Geumgang Nature Art Pre-Biennale 2007: Nature Scopes. Yatoo, Gongju, 2007, p.76

Leaf Works / Ted Karkut

You could almost enjoy Ted Karkut's new leaf works (thirteen framed leaf-on-paper compositions at the Academy of Spherical Arts) for their witty titles alone, though of course, there's more to them than just that. But titles such as "Because It's There", "Scatter Piece", "It's Obvious Mandala" and "Downleaf Chroma" provide a setting of easy urbanity that not only enhances the works themselves but also seems to compliment the elegant atmosphere of the gallery.

The works feature dried leaves of various kinds arrayed in pleasing, spare arrangements that suggest an underlying poetic sensibility. Karkut's effects here are sometimes subtle, sometimes splashy, and no two images are alike. What unifies them is his intense, yet delicate sense of texture. Don't look here for any explicit environmental messages, though they do contain a genuine feeling for their natural environmental sources. The works frame and present a variety of kinds of leaves (sumach, cherry, willow, maple) in a variety of inventive arrangements that, however, never violate the dignity of their own raw material. Through his stylizations, the viewer becomes absorbed, with the artist, in the beauty of the raw material itself and thus, intimately, in the creative process. Each of Karkut's playful compositions leads the eye on a new adventure in physical discovery, as each dessicated leaf, lovingly placed, seems to freeze in time, a once-living organic moment.

In his earlier grid drawings, Karkut employed pencil or ballpoint ink to have you feel, than simply see, his large-scaled, moody, minimalist conceptions. Now in the leaf works he lets his sensuality come forefront, uninhibited. He allows his images to charm your eye. There's an almost devil-may-care freedom to them, and this by no means to suggest that they are in any way formless. On the contrary, they are informed with a more invisible structure, in response to and guided by the artist's awe of the material he is using. You could say he was working in collaboration with his raw material. In Karkut's own words: "What initially drew me to using leaves and other natural plant matter as potential material to work with was their physical beauty, variety and changes brought to them over time, and in the various species." The grid artist has not forgotten his sense of discipline. He is still the minimalist, but more intuitive now, and rather than command his material into place, he seems almost, with a patient amusement, to be coaxing, seducing his leaves into the formations he expects of them.

Karkut again: "I wanted to use intuition to create a new sensibility using this raw material in new, and to me, surprising ways." These turn out to be more than just dry, lofty-sounding words on paper. In Leaf Works this surprise expresses itself as a renewed openness to possibilities ; and the artist's affection for the results communicates itself freshly and imaginatively to the viewer.

Charles Siedlecki. educator/writer
Toronto April 2005 .

"I recall the sense of "pop" that entered our aesthetic for this show, as we juried. The woven t-shirt for instance does not fall into traditional media definitions. We loved its surprise, its craft and its presence......."

Leslie Bell. Brock University .
"2002 Juried Art Exhibition July 19 - August 25, 2002". The Grimsby Public Art Gallery

"His black-and-white, manipulated and coupled photographs evoke fragmented spheres of the mind which we too often dismiss by denying the influence of the abstract within the ordinary. Near his drawings and photo works (Karkut) presented three leaf works, including delicately framed arrangements of gingko and willow leaves. Here I admittedly found myself most at home...."

Nancy Graham.
LOLA winter 1999-2000. p.72-3. Review of "Ted Karkut 3 x 1" at the Academy of Spherical Arts, Toronto, June 5 - 26, 1999.

For more information on the artist, email k.ted48@gmail.com.