Paul Butler Semiotics Aside & The Collage Party

Works in the exhibition

Division Gallery is proud to present a two-part exhibition by Winnipeg-based artist Paul Butler, consisting of The Collage Party, a nomadic studio where guests are invited to produce art in a social setting, and Semiotics Aside, a new body of work generated and inspired by the detritus from these sessions. Butler’s art deals in indeterminacy; his studio expands and contracts to include alternate locales, while collective group sessions inform his individual practice. Sustained by a perpetually evolving heap of materials—so-called leftovers from collage partiesButler’s predominantly collage-based work belies the neatness of analogy, instead reveling in loose associations and their idiosyncrasies.

Since 1998, Butler has staged his internationally renowned The Collage Party in numerous locations such as public schools, universities, department stores like Bergdorf Goodman, New York, and organizations for artists with mental and physical disabilities. These staged happenings have also been held at institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Creative Growth Art Center, Oakland; la maison rouge, Paris; the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA), Toronto; and Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. While the location changes, the mechanism remains constant: Butler invites participants (friends, artists, community groups), supplies materials (magazines, scissors, adhesives), and leaves out instruction. Display and production synchronize in a choreography of tearing, pasting, shuffling, searching, tacking and ripping that negates the precincts of personal space or private ownership. For this iteration at Division Gallery, Butler has restaged his Winnipeg studio in the gallery so that disparate realms—Winnipeg and Toronto, studio and gallery, labour and commerce—are folded into one another, cancelling the gulf that once maintained their seeming separation.

Drawing from this attitude of (dis)association, Semiotics Aside transcends the classification of the original work of art, beginning with reproductions and remediating them as blown-up c-prints. While these images are procured from a bygone era where print reigned supreme, they take on the medial qualities—the ability to move through sequences of formats and chains of activities—of their contemporaries.  Found images of landscapes are fitted together, creating glossy stages for unforeseen events. These impossibly rich scenes form around visual resonances and formal congruities; in turn, they are subject to a logic which is open-ended and elastic. 

This is Paul Butler’s third solo exhibition with Division Gallery. In addition to hosting The Collage Party in a number of galleries and museums, Butler has had solo exhibitions at White Columns, New York; The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Toronto; Plug In ICA, Winnipeg; and Jessica Bradley Gallery, Toronto. Butler’s work was included in Collage: Geste et Fragments, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; My Winnipeg, la maison rouge, Paris; Bit by Bit, Vancouver Contemporary Art Gallery; and Sit(E)ings: Trajectories for a Future at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), Winnipeg. He was formerly curator of contemporary art at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the director of The Other Gallery. His interest in alternative pedagogies led him to organize the residency Reverse Pedagogy at the Banff Centre and Reverse Pedagogy II and III in Venice Italy and at The Model, Sligo, Ireland.

The Collage Party is open to the public during gallery hours on Saturdays throughout the exhibition.

Special thanks to sponsors DeSerres and Steam Whistle for their generous contributions. 

For group bookings, please contact Tamara Hart thart@galeriedivision.com

For more information on the artist