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Architecture Informs Art in Charles Beamish’s Exhibition at the Glendon Gallery


The latest art exhibition at the Glendon Gallery opened on January 19th with the title Spatial Networks. This is the first exhibition of the works of architect, designer and trained artist Charles Beamish, who has created the complete set of 8 works on display specifically for this Glendon exhibition.

“Through these pieces, I am attempting to investigate the overlap of painting, sculpture and architecture, in order to study the potential for three-dimensionality within painting that provides actual and implied spatial experiences”, said Beamish.

Left: Charles Beamish explains the concept of Exploded Cube in front of the art work

The artist chose to follow in the footsteps of the early 20th century Modernist movement in art, in the sense that using today’s tools, he wanted to respond spontaneously to time and space, based on the idea of implied and real movement.

Several constructions include mirror insets, reflecting the viewer, as well as other points in the room. “Mirrors become spatial points along a linear experience of the piece”, said Beamish, “while other features imply a space within a space, such as the forms within the yellow paintings.” Reflecting Beamish’s architectural background, some of the pieces on display were actually designed to fit specific architectural features of the room. But the artist emphasized that the experience he wanted to create for the viewers was not through science or technology, but through the feelings and responses the works elicited.

The matching set of Yellow Space A and Yellow Space B

Beamish first created a central piece, Exploded Cube – on view as soon as one enters the gallery – based on a cube modeled on a computer. This three-dimensional figure was then fragmented with the aid of the computer, into spatial points and unraveled into a one-directional, horizontal display representing all the elements of the original cube. The other pieces on display were the “next generation” emerging from this original work.

Right: Bridged Space with 3 mirror insets

He examined several features during this process, such as the effects of the speed of movement and the colours generated, and how different densities of the elements resulted in different speeds and variable colour choices.

In fact, colours play an important part in each work’s effect. The peaceful yellows and golds of Yellow Space provide a pleasant juxtaposition to the deep and serious Blue Black Space; Bridged Space with its white background and mirrored insets is a cheerful, playful piece reflecting the viewer and the canvases nearby. Cold Front, the only other work with a specific title, provides a continuous surface and three dimensionality eliciting reflection not only in the visual, but also in the cerebral sense.

Left: Side view of Cold Front with mirrored reflections

Beamish remarked on how he experienced these works differently in the gallery from his original reactions while creating them. “Computer space is artificial - virtual, consisting of light and digital information. Now that the paintings are on display, they gain a phenomenal reality composed of smells, sounds, plasticity and the reactions of the visitors.”

The artist explained that he had made a three-dimensional model of the room and placed each piece before the actual mounting of the exhibition. “When it came to putting them up, the gallery staff, under the direction of curator Marc Audette and I found that what worked was a completely different layout.”

The artist in front of Cold Front

“The nature of how we interact with space has always interested me”, added Beamish, “how we use space, how we relate to paintings, how spatial effects can happen outside of, as well as within a work of art, such as depth, movement and architectural elements.”

Spatial Networks is on display at the Glendon Gallery until February 25th. For gallery hours and directions, please visit the gallery’s website. The Glendon Gallery functions within the Department of Student Services, under the direction of Associate Principal Rosanna Furgiuele. For more information, please contact Martine Rheault, Coordinator of Artistic & Cultural Affairs, 416-487-6859,

More about Charles Beamish

In the field of architecture, Beamish has worked as chief designer and project manager of several building projects: among these were transit facilities, office buildings, and educational, residential, health-care and performing arts construction projects across Ontario. He has overseen the production of various facilities, from schematic design to the completion of construction. He has designed and built several cedar strip canoes and worked as a landscape designer and contractor. His professional output has always been focused on making and influencing space.

Beamish’s post-secondary education includes a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Toronto; Master’s of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University, New York; Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Toronto; and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting & Drawing) at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD).

Article submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny

Published on January 22, 2010