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Social distortion 

Gabriel Parniak’s Ice Cream Social brings politics and humour to Anna Leonownens Gallery

click to enlarge Parniak's "Harvest Womb"
  • Parniak's "Harvest Womb"

Gabriel Parniak’s NSCAD grad show, Ice Cream Social, (opening November 26 at Anna Leonowens Gallery, 1891 Granville, 5:30-7pm. Running to December 1) tries to see the good in everyone.

Specifically, Parniak’s tongue-in-cheek oversized prints, drawing and sculptural pieces look at how journalistic media lumps people together in ways that only serve to keep people apart (oh man, we don’t do that, do we?), and imagines what it would be like to reclaim a bit of good old fashioned person to person connection. Taking an objective look at the way politics are presented in the media, with a special focus on what it means to be Canadian in a country that so influenced and informed by our neighbours to the south, Parniak hopes to engage a diverse group and create connections.

“I am interested in politics, but at an arm’s length,” says Parniak. “I have a distrust but an interest, and I wanted to look at why I have that distrust. “Emotion plays the biggest role in politics and gets played on by the media all the time. We're emotional people—that's why we’re accepting one on one but also why groups are so easy to manipulate.”

Humour saturates the eclectic show, detailed caricature-like portraits comment on individuality in hegemonic culture, and prints speak to the idea of “Canadianness” and how that has changed. “Part of the show is based on how we get lumped into the US. Does anyone really know what our identity is? With the US becoming stronger it kind of erases what Canada used to be politically,” says Parniak. “The perception of ‘Canadianness’ is much more benign.”

Ice Cream Social features non-traditional printmaking techniques, some sculptural elements, objects and drawings. “I consider all of my work collage,” says Parniak, who says the idea of creating community bleeds into his work, and that collaboration is a large part of his practice.

“I’m also trying to make it accessible, not necessarily having to appeal to everyone, but I’d like to make people more interested in reading into the work,” says Parniak. “I'm averse to insular art ideals based on art history, especially western art history, I think it's just redundant at this point.”

click to enlarge Parniak's "Sad Clown"
  • Parniak's "Sad Clown"

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