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Denyse Thomasos: From Superjails to Super Paintings

Denyse Thomasos Arc 2009 Courtesy the artist and Olga Korper Gallery

Born in Trinidad, raised in Mississauga and based in New York, Denyse Thomasos is known nationally and internationally for her striking abstract paintings. And several times over the past decade, Thomasos has applied her brushwork and palette directly onto gallery walls, staging large-scale installations at the Art Gallery of Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, the MSVU Art Gallery in Halifax, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and other venues. With her latest solo show of work at Olga Korper Gallery—which follows on the heels of her first New York show in 10 years at Lennon, Weinberg—Thomasos returns to the canvas and (excepting Arc, a 20-foot-wide painting) revisits a slightly smaller scale of production. Nonetheless, the themes and devices of Thomasos’ work would seem to be evolving in a consistent direction, with interests and research in imprisonment, war, genocide and the histories of people of colour being worked through in large, complex and fluid abstractions. For some, the works might call to mind the large mural that Thomasos installed at Mercer Union as a recent Yale MFA grad in 1994, one which alluded to both raffia textiles and the architecture of slavery. For others, it might evoke Thomasos’ wide-ranging research experience in the killing fields of Cambodia and the superjails of America. Whatever one’s perspective might be, one thing’s for sure—there is always a lot to see and to sense in Thomasos’ absorbing artworks. (17 Morrow Ave, Toronto ON)

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