Devon Marinac “Holistic Barbarian”

Van Der Plas Gallery

poster for Devon Marinac “Holistic Barbarian”

This event has ended.

Van Der Plas Gallery presents Holistic Barbarian, a solo show by artist Devon Marinac (b. 1988).

Devon Marinac is a Canadian artist from British Columbia who currently lives in Toronto, Ontario. In his first solo show at Van Der Plas Gallery, Marinac shows a selection of mixed-medium works which blend techniques of painting, drawing, collage and zine-making.

When asked about the title of the show, Marinac explained that he ‘just likes the sound of it’, a response which seems to capture the debonair inclusiveness of the paintings themselves. Taken from Charles Willeford’s introduction to Jim Tully’s ‘hobo autobiography’ called Beggars of Life, the title also suggests Marinac’s interest in the figure of the vagabond and drifter; Marinac describes one of the paintings as pertaining to a bar scene that was ‘like a merry rotating cast of bums and losers’. The materials used contribute to the curious sense of austerity and a certain hobo-aesthetic, yet some influences and references remain simultaneously literary, as Marinac doesn’t neglect to draw on ‘high culture’ just as he celebrates aspects of the ‘low’.

The you-just-go-on-your-nerve sentiment of Marinac’s explanation certainly speaks for the overwhelming sense of inclusion and cross-reference. Indeed, ‘holistic’ is the overarching principle in terms of what Marinac decides to include, as he ‘just runs with a bunch of stuff.’

Four of the works might be described as a librarian’s nightmare, in which classification and categorization are relentlessly protested in a frenzy. Marinac seems to deliberately taunt the frustrated librarian by writing ‘Dewey’s Decible’ which is a malapropism suggesting the noisiness that the works possess, a further sonic affront to the traditional library. The premise of the hectic book shelf allows Marinac to jump across literary genres and periods in vast cross-cultural sweeps. In one section, ‘Burgess’ is placed next to ‘What to do between birth and death’ and the subtle rhyme between these consecutive spines brings home Marinac’s desire to see echoes and connections between seemingly disparate parts of life.

In one of the book shelves, book spines are dotted between wine bottles as a bar atmosphere emerges not only in the alcohol paraphernalia but in the dominant sense of an inebriated consciousness that is able to dart nimbly between different associations. Marinac too describes this substance-induced mental agility, as he connects feeling ‘very mentally limber’ with a ‘way too easy-to-access cognac habit’.

One of the most striking aspects of the works seems to be the centrality of language and handwriting, as words and letters not only signify as language with semantic meaning, but become their own form of imaging. Titles of books seem to function equally as shapes and drawings in a flurry of reference that is both linguistic and visual in its signification. Marinac comments on his own focus on language and literature as he describes himself ‘playing around with subject matter and titles like a writer writing.’

This dizzying sense of commixture and commingling registers Marinac’s embrace of the variousness and messiness of life, which contains not just ‘misery, but ‘some playfulness’… These are ‘dens of ups and downs.’

Indeed, as we try to make sense of the somewhat impenetrable mixture of what is infinitely more than squiggles and words, objects and symbols, colors and shapes, one thing is for sure, that we ‘certainly just like the look of it.’



from July 23, 2021 to August 08, 2021

Opening Reception on 2021-07-24 from 17:00 to 20:00


Devon Marinac

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