Neoism

The Life and Times of

ISTVAN KANTOR

September 25 - October 5, 2008

(re)mixed media and performance

Opening Reception/Live Performance Sept 25, 7pm

Nuit Blanche event Oct 4, starting 7pm until dawn

FOUNTAIN
Director Maggy Perry
652A Queen Street West, Toronto
Entrance on Palmerston Avenue
416.955.1318/647.519.0420
fountaingallery@gmail.com
Opening Hours: Friday-Sunday 2-7pm

The Life and Times of Istvan Kantor is an exhibition of Kantor’s most recent mixed media works extended with two nights of performances, for the opening and for Nuit Blanche. Employing his accumulationist plunder method Kantor keeps appropriating and reworking already existing images with childish playfulness and neo-punk rebelliousness. He only works with recycled material, readjusting thrift store art, thrown away canvases, Value Village and Goodwill items, children book covers, art posters, etc. He mostly uses spray paint and china markers to add his signature icons, and for best result he also mixes his own blood into the multiplying colors, red, black, gold, silver, green, pink, yellow and blue.

Kantor’s painting technic is somewhat similar to his video editing: multilayers of images added with text, noise, and action based dynamic expressions widening the limited two dimensional surface of the canvases, wood panels or hard cardboards.

Kantor never gets inspired by empty white surfaces except when he is confronted by white walls in museums tempting him to deface them. Otherwise he would never start painting on a blank canvas in his studio. Kantor’s working method starts with a quest for images in second hand stores and in the streets. After collecting and accumulating a large number of seemingly worthless kitch and reproductions, he attacks them with spray cans and markers, working on 10 to 50 pieces at the same time. Throughout a few insanely busy hypnotic days and under the spell of the ghostly spirit of Neoism, Kantor can finish a whole new body of work at once. The last touches include the marking of the exact date, day/month/year, and the titles. For Kantor both are essential part of the final product.

The following short anecdote demonstrates the importance of dates and titles in Kantor’s practice. A collector once asked him to erase or change the dates on a number of works dated by the exact same day because for him it seemed like a commercially devaluating mark, suggesting that the artist made all of them on the same day and therefore didn’t put much effort in their creation. Kantor responded with wiping out not only the dates but all of the images as well and then marking the “blank” pieces with historical dates of revolutionary events for titles and finally faithfully and accurately dating each of them with the exact same date of the day.

Kantor’s solo exhibition at Fountaine, entitled The Life and Times of Istvan Kantor, presents action fueled visual expression coupled with skillfulness in decomposition. Kantor’s surprisingly crafty anti-art production deliberately emerges through the autobiographically focused, ironical modus operandi.


Neoism

Istvan Kantor, recepient of the 2004 Governor General's Award for Visual and Media Arts, also known as Monty Cantsin, the founder of Neoism, is an action based media artist/subvertainer/producer, active in many fields, performance, robotics, mixed-media, installation, painting, sound, music, video and new media.

His main subjects are the decay of technology and the struggle of the individual in technological society. His work has been described by the media as intellectually rebellious, anti-authoritarian, as well as technically innovative and highly experimental. His radically changing creative ambitions are always related to his living environment and social situation. He has been arrested and jailed many times for his blood-x interventions in museums. Kantor was born in Budapest where he studied medical science. In 1976, at age 26, he defected to Paris and from there immigrated to Montreal. He also lived in Portland, New York, Berlin and presently is a resident of Toronto where his children, Jericho, Babylon and Nineveh were born in the 90’s. Besides his individual work he is bandleader/singer of the Red ArmBand, founder-member of MachineSexActionGroup and Kantor Family Circus.