Lay Me Down Softly: The Art of Bloodletting

Amanda Nedham - "The Hunger Artist II"

Amanda Nedham - "The Hunger Artist II"

Yellow bile, black bile, phlegm and blood: for thousands of years the art of bloodletting was sought to balance the four humours of which the human body is composed. Greek, Roman and later Muslim and Western European medical establishments that adopted and adapted classical medical philosophy believed that each of these humours would wax and wane in the body, depending on diet and activity. When a patient was suffering from a surplus or imbalance of one fluid, then his or her personality and physical health would be affected. All diseases and disabilities resulted from an excess or deficit of one of these four humors so oftentimes bloodletting was used to expel the harmful surplus. Dubbed by modern medicine as medieval, mythical, or even magical, the term now serves as metaphor for artistic practice or creative release -- free from traditional social or moral constraints.

Toronto's LE Gallery experiments with the idea of bloodletting in three diverse and intimate practices in Bloodletting, their group exhibition featuring some of today's most prolific artists: Katie Pretti, Sarah Clifford-Rashotte and Amanda Nedham. Bound by a mutual interest in exploring the definitions and interpretations of bloodletting throughout history, all three artists present a unique reflection.

Katie Pretti - "Illegitimate Children 2"

Katie Pretti - "Illegitimate Children 2"

Bloodletting serves as an interesting entry point into the world of uninhibited emotion - the familiar yet unknown aspects of human nature. And perhaps the most appealing aspect of uninhibited emotion is our constant familiarity and never-ending bind with these emotions. The escape into one's true self.

Katie Pretti is a Toronto based artist who is interested in the ability to employ the formal concerns of line and colour to achieve narrative in semi-abstracted form. A rising star in the contemporary Canadian art world, Pretti’s ability to harness the visceral impact of emotions is reflected in her frenetic style of markmaking on both paper and canvas. Informed by a rich history of predecessors in the field of abstract expressionism, Pretti adds her distinct exploration of human experience and emotions through her studio practice.

Her work has been featured in Elle Canada, Fashion Magazine and Canadian House and Home, and was included as a feature artist in a Hudson’s Bay Company campaign during the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.

Through drawing and mark making, Sarah Clifford-Rashotte employs a highly intuitive approach to cataloguing her cultural experience that is both detached and deeply personal. Frenetic in pace but calculated in composition Clifford-Rashotte’s work reflects a collision of contemporary themes of excess relating to the female persona and issues of desexualization.

Sarah Clifford-Rashotte - "First Facepunch"

Sarah Clifford-Rashotte - "First Facepunch"

Primarily concerned with the various taxonomic functions of history, Amanda Nedham’s works of paper exhibit a technical proficiency and enamoured exploration of natural history’s complex and overlapping structures. Through a process of abstraction based on the collaging of drawings, largely from television and internet sources, she attempts to focus on those moments that create tension as they challenge the governing voice of history.

Nedham is the winner of the Ontario College of Art and Design’s Printmaking Medal. Her work has been exhibited in Toronto, Florence, and New York.

Bloodletting will be on display from September 10 to October 3, 2010. LE Gallery is located on 1183 Dundas St. W. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 12-6.