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Magazine scene 

We take a look inside the newest issue of Hunter and Cook.

When Toronto-based artists Tony Romano and Jay Isaac launched their quarterly arts and culture magazine, Hunter and Cook, they admittedly didn’t have a clue how the magazine industry worked.

“Going into it, we knew nothing about magazines. I don’t even really look at magazines,” says Isaac. But their lack of industry knowledge seems to have worked in their favour—Hunter and Cook is not your conventional arts magazine. No two issues share the same layout and the ads are discreetly tucked away into the back. “The reason it looks he way it looks, is that it’s artists making this thing. It’s how artists would like a magazine to look,” says Isaac. “People actually enjoy holding it.”

Aside from being pretty, Hunter and Cook introduces contemporary Canadian artists to an international audience, something Isaac feels that few other magazines do. Isaac attributes the magazine’s success to the fact that it’s artist-run. “We’re tapped into what’s happening immediately,” he says. “We can present people that nobody’s ever heard of.” Now in its third year, Hunter and Cook will celebrate the launch of its eighth edition at the Khyber Friday at 7pm.

The artists associated with Hunter and Cook have formed Hunter and Cook Projects, a floating group that will exhibit their their work together at the launch. Romano and Isaac aren’t simply editors of the magazine, but contributing artists and curators as well. Isaac will unveil canvasses that he’s coated in an unlikely, psychedelic fusion of marker ink and oil paint at the Khyber.

“They’re paintings about absolutely nothing,” he explains happily. “They’re completely self-referential.” His work is rooted in the present moment. He works with no clear end in sight, stopping only when he feels the painting has organically reached completion. Luminous layers of fluorescent colour appear to be oozing into one another, transporting viewers to the non-conceptual mental terrain of the artist at the moment of creation.

Anders Oinonen will exhibit his studio sketches at the launch as well, giving viewers a rare glimpse into his creative process. Oinonen often makes geometric faces the central focal points of his work. When viewers see something gaze back at them, it helps them “empathize with the work,” explains Oinonen. He uses heavy brushstrokes to construct faces, which appear to be leaping out of brightly, coloured landscapes, rather than human skin. “Our brains are sort of programmed to find faces more than anything else,” he says. He attributes his fascination with faces in part to his childhood in Thunder Bay: “I grew up in a town, with this giant peninsula in the water in the shape of a person.”

Khyber visitors can also look forward to former Deadly Snakes vocalist Andre Ethier’s grotesque realism, Jessica Eaton’s critically acclaimed explorations into colour theory and work by Mark Delong, who glazes irregularly shaped ceramic pieces with spraypaint-like swirls. “He seems to be doing something that no one else is really doing right now, graphic abstractions mixed with abstract ceramic pieces,” says Isaac.

Artworks by Paul Butler, Aaron Carpenter, Brad Phillips, Maura Doyle, Claire Greenshaw and Tony Romano will be on display at the launch as well. For Isaac, the community that surrounds Hunter and Cook makes his work worthwhile. Being an artist is a “self-obsessed activity. It’s kind of nice engaging with other people and promoting other people,” he says. “I like the idea of artists being a little less self-serving.”

Hunter and Cook Issue 8 launch Friday, March 11, 7pm
The Khyber ICA, 1588 Barrington Street
Hunter and Cook Projects exhibition runs to March 25

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