Over The Shoulder by Jonathan Davis and Ryan Mackeen

Over The Shoulder
Jonathan Davis and Ryan Mackeen
October 15 to 25, 2015
Opening: October 15 (6-9 pm)

Above: Recreation 10, by Jonathan Davis. Below: The Mission, by Ryan MacKeen.

In Post-Graffiti Life, Artists Find New Means of Expression
Toronto–September 21, 2015

Which version of yourself do you allow the world to see?

In their exhibition Over the Shoulder, on view from October 15 to 25 at Gallery 50 on Gladstone Avenue, painters Ryan “Case” MacKeen and Jonathan Davis offer viewers a voyeuristic peek into scenes of protagonists curating the exhibition of their alter egos.

Davis and MacKeen approach their paintings as directors would film scenes, referencing their backgrounds as a storyboard artist and a music video director, respectively. MacKeen uses spray paint to achieve his distinctive soft focus effect, while Davis exploits the richness of oils.  Borrowing from cinematic conventions such as the widescreen format and "over the shoulder” shot, they direct the viewer's narrative experience, following closely behind their subjects while remaining outside observers.

Davis, drawing on classical tradition, believes the human figure can be a powerful symbol. His two scenes portraying female figures suggest allegories - of voyeurism and exhibitionism in social media, and memory as a constructive process. Both scenes explore the conflicting desires to break out of, and surrender to, our comfort zones. His process involves storyboarding the scenes, choosing locations and casting for still photographs, which he then references for his final paintings.

MacKeen, also working from photos, embraces both the limitations and stylistic potential of the spray paint medium, to depict a crew of graffiti writers in the act of “bombing”. His scenes depict a view that is meant to go unseen; the covert the act of graffiti, rather than the result. He captures the adrenaline rush, the inherent risk and rebellion that bond the faceless characters who conspire to leave their mark. He feels these acts are statements of social and cultural significance.

The two artists have been friends and collaborators since their graffiti-writing youth. CASE and SPYDR, as they were first introduced, have gone on to develop more sophisticated ways of working while continuing to be influenced by the street aesthetic, and tag themselves #postGraffiti.

For more information and preview images, contact overtheshoulderart@gmail.com

About Artist Ryan MacKeen

Ryan MacKeen is a graffiti artist known as "CASE" who is working and living in Toronto. Case has merged his graffiti experiences and his studio study into a style that integrates both classical and street art, while continuing to explore the industrial medium of spray paint without traditional boundaries. He uses no stencils, no airbrush, no brushes, but instead chooses to wield the aerosol can like a painter - freehand, layered and spontaneously. His work explores the effects of light and contour, reshaping silhouettes and representation in simplified, often symbolic context.

Case recently completed a commission for the Historical Randolph Housing in Harlem, New York. His 24 years of urban beautification have spread his notoriety across the globe; showing overseas and throughout the United States, including shows for the Carmichael Gallery of Contemporary Art in Hollywood, CA, the Graffiti World exhibit at GO Gallery in Amsterdam, Cutlog in New York, NY, and Art Basel in Miami, FL.

His Canadian exhibitions include the Art Gallery of Ontario and The Royal Ontario Museum. Case has been published in a number of books and periodicals, including Rutgers Journal of Comparative Literature, Graffiti World, as well as being a subject in a variety of documentaries in the late nineties. In addition, Case is an award winning director, receiving a Juno for Video of the Year for The Arcade Fire's "Neighborhood #3" in 2007 and the "Young Guns" award in 2004 and from the Art Directors Club of New York.

His work can be viewed at ryanmackeen.blog.com or @casemackeen on Instagram, and he can be contacted at ryanmackeen@yahoo.com.

About Artist Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis is a Toronto-based painter and illustrator specializing in figurative and narrative formats, in media ranging from oil on canvas, to digital, to spray-painted murals. His personal work draws on his years of experience in film and commercial production, as well as his early career as a muralist and graffiti artist known as SPYDR.

While attending OCAD’s Drawing & Painting program, he spent a year abroad in Florence, Italy, fostering a love for classical art. He later strengthened his painting skills at Canada’s foremost fine art mural company, Lorimer Studios. He earned his Associate Diploma from OCAD in 2002, and following his graduation, gained several years of design experience in the art departments of feature film productions, where he developed his ambition to expand his career into digital storyboarding and concept art, which he continues to this day.

His work can be viewed at davisdimension.com or @davisdimension on Instagram, and he can be contacted at jd@davisdimension.com.