with Toni Hamel
Through Incisive Paintings, Toni Hamel Highlights Futile and Inadequate Responses to Global Issues
It may be human to err, but Toni Hamel’s characters take mistakes and futility to irrational conclusions. The artist (previously) is known for her keen wit and observations of contemporary life, which she translates into oil paintings that place folly at the center: a woman paints red stripes onto a tulip’s petals, a man gestures toward a celestial Amazon logo, and a team numbers clouds suspended in the sky.
Many of Hamel’s works comment on inadequate responses to major issues like the climate crisis and social inequities, and she often paints scenes with figures undertaking unhelpful and unrelated actions to remedy the problem. Her “Activist” paintings, for example, depict a melting arctic and figures attempting to stop the loss of life and landscape through words alone. Laced with humor and satire, Hamel considers her work a form of protest and “a reflection of my general preoccupations as an artist.”
Currently living and working in Kingston, Ontario, Hamel will have many of the pieces shown here at CK Contemporary in San Francisco in the coming weeks. You can find an archive of her works on her site and Instagram.
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Subjects Undertake Futile Pursuits in Satirical Paintings by Artist Toni Hamel
Based in Oshawa, a suburb of Toronto, artist Toni Hamel (previously) is concerned with human morality—or lack thereof. In her subtly hued artworks, Hamel portrays subjects in the midst of futile and trivial pursuits: children pluck stars from the night sky, a couple attempts to reconstruct a flower after its petals have fallen, and a young family literally watches wet paint dry. Many of the satirical pieces consider socially accepted anthropocentrism and the relationship people have with the surrounding environment.
Since 2017, Hamel has been adding to High Tides and Misdemeanors, an ongoing series that is intentionally political. “It confronts us with the repercussions of our actions and denounces the current thinking models. In this age of alternative realities, ‘fake news’ and a culture that is increasingly more self-absorbed and superficial, I feel that it’s even more important for me to carry on reporting what I must,” she writes.
Explore more of Hamel’s visual commentaries on culture and politics on Instagram.
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Satirical Images of Virtue and Vice Painted by Toni Hamel
Toronto-based artist Toni Hamel works across mediums to create drawings, paintings, and sculptures that analyze human behavior. In her two-dimensional work the artist often incorporates animals and icebergs being treated as art objects by men in lab coats and smocks. The male subjects are seen analyzing or altering the zebras, giraffes, and whales, painting over their spots or pinning on stripes with a marked precision.
Hamel describes her art practice as an “illustrated commentary of human frailties,” seeking to highlight peculiar behavior in humans. “Drawing from personal experiences and outward observations, I point to historical, social, and psychological references,” she tells Colossal. “Virtues and vices, the holy and the profane, the good and the bad, all share equal weight and supply as infinite source material for my investigations.”
Hamel received her BFA from the Accademia di Belle Arti of Lecce in 1983, and a post-graduate certificate in Computer Graphics from Sheridan College in 1991. You can see more of her satirical works on human behavior on her website and Instagram.
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