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Michael De Feo and Alex McLeod: From the Streets to Self-Portraiture

Angell Gallery, Toronto Aug 8 to 29 2009
Michael De Feo  <I>Untitled (Self Portrait)</I>  2008  Courtesy of Angell Gallery Michael De Feo Untitled (Self Portrait) 2008 Courtesy of Angell Gallery

Michael De Feo <I>Untitled (Self Portrait)</I> 2008 Courtesy of Angell Gallery

In 1992, a silkscreened flower graphic began cropping up around the streets of New York City, pasted to everything from newspaper dispensers to city buses. The man behind this project—which today comprises of thousands of flowers—is artist Michael De Feo, whose latest self-portrait paintings are part of Angell Gallery’s current exhibition. The self-portraits are painted over vintage maps that De Feo purchased on eBay; the maps provide a way of referencing his street-art practice as well as a means of placing his mark or tag without having to visit the location. The visibly viscous drips applied to the canvas—a mixture of pigment and urethane—make it appear as if the figure is slipping downwards and off the canvas, evoking a sense of agony and dreary displacement. Prompted in part by De Feo’s separation from his wife in 2006, the paintings, when viewed in succession, provide an affecting look at an artist in the midst of self-exploration and identity repair. De Feo’s paintings are being exhibited alongside Alex McLeod’s surreal landscapes—digital prints that were created using 3-D rendering software, and which look at life cycles. (890 Queen St W, Toronto ON)

This article was first published online on August 20, 2009.

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