ART REVIEWS AND OTHER TEXT
"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.org, 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
||Yamaguchi Seishi 1901-1994
||Not a leaf stirring:
||Appearing as if
||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;
|| The rain beats on the rain.
||Ochiba ochikasanarite ame ame wo utso
||Hikari-au futatsu no yama no shigeri kana
||Kato Gyodai 1732-1792
|| Blowing from the west,
||Pressing my forehead
||Fallen leaves gather
||On the green tatami,
|| In the east.
||Nishi fukaba higashi ni tamaru ochiba kana
||Suzushisa ya hitai wo atete ao-datami
||Yosa Buson 1716-1784
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...."
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.