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Reviews / April 16, 2013

Marco Cibola Marks Time and Labour at the Gladstone

Gladstone Hotel, Toronto April 4 to 28, 2013

Hotel hallways are not usually venues for art exhibitions. Toronto-area artist Marco Cibola has fun with this idiosyncrasy in his first Canadian solo show, “It’s About Time,” at the Gladstone Hotel, a venue that has made it a priority to integrate artists into its operations.

Trained as an illustrator at Sheridan College, Cibola has done impressive and evocative depictions of the human figure for publications such as Time, the Grid, the Globe and Mail and the Washington Post. Now, as a student in the interdisciplinary master’s in art, media and design at OCAD University, he is exploring more abstract forms of representation.

Since 2002, Cibola has been included in a number of national and international group exhibitions. “It’s About Time” features a collection of new pencil drawings on paper with cheeky titles–such as Untitled (Sorry)–written on the walls in pencil as well. His work addresses themes of time and repetition, and in his most recent drawings in particular he grapples with the problems inherent in representing time, and he explores how one might try to concretize something so ephemeral and fleeting.

Beside each artwork title, written with Cibola’s trusty pencil, is a tally of how many hours it took him to complete the piece, with the stipulation that each hour of work costs $50, for those looking to purchase one of his drawings. (You can never escape math, even in the art world.) By providing a form of measurement for the passage of time that is integral to the production of his work, Cibola attempts to give form to the abstract process that his drawings convey.

Cibola has drawn arrows onto the walls to lead viewers down and around the hallways of the fourth floor, which (hotel-room doorways aside) are lined with his drawings. The experience almost feels intrusive as one tiptoes across the creaky floors of someone else’s lodgings. Yet there is an overtly playful tone, and Cibola encourages an exploratory spirit by demarcating the bounds of this space with “UN-DEFI-NED –M” and “UN-LIMI-TED –M” scrawled across two walls.

With a steady hand, the artist devises shapes that are painstakingly detailed in their shading, stippling, and crosshatching. Action: 9, Reaction: 2 (9 hours) is one of Cibola’s most laborious endeavours, as he manages to make a fairly simple repetition of pencil strokes appear layered and bottomless, like the pit of a well. The effect is almost hypnotizing, as if one is Alice being led down the rabbit hole.

This is a Worm (8 ½ hours) is an assorted collation of papers ranging in colour and size that span an entire wall to form the body of an intricately drawn worm. The collage-like attachment of papers suggests that this has the potential to be an infinite image, as more and more portions of the torso could ultimately be inserted to add to its length.

1 x 1 x 1 (Daily Drawings from the Month of March) (1 hour each) charts Cibola’s artistic process over a month’s time; some days perhaps alluding to a cyclical train of thought through the inscribing of circular forms, others with images of criss-crossing lines suggesting a state of being at odds with something. There is an element of the subconscious at play in Cibola’s drawings, as they often transition into the realm of the automatic in which unmediated processes seem to govern the abstraction of his shapes.

There is a calculated simplicity to the execution of this show; clever in his minimalist approach, Cibola proves that you don’t need fancy vinyl labels in order to make an impact.

Nives Hajdin is web intern at Canadian Art and is also a master’s student in criticism and curatorial practice at OCAD University.