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Howard Podeswa at Fran Hill

Globe and Mail | September 11, 2004
by Gary Michael Dault

Toronto-based painter Howard Podeswa used to have a studio (and maybe still does) right smack in the middle of Kensington Market and, partly as a consequence, painted what he saw out his windows: eggplants, peppers, onions, leeks, lemons. I don't know anybody who painted fruits and vegetables better than Howard Podeswa. And there are still some of the old still-life paintings in the basement of the Fran Hill Gallery, if you wanted to search them out. But Podeswa, who harbours more technical (and political) curiosity and passion than his still-life paintings could contain, has now moved on. He still paints objects brilliantly. But now his objects are contributions merely to a complex painting methodology he has only lately come to explore. This new exhibition is called OOPS, which doesn't indicate the presence of a sudden mistake, but rather stands for Object-Oriented Painting Show.

Podeswa's current romance with Object-Oriented (OO) computer technology is as absorbing to him as it is opaque to me. Suffice it to say, it involves his replacement of "standardized symbols or icons to represent objects of significance to a system" with objects that have a personal meaning for Podeswa himself -- everyday studio objects like a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, a box of digestive biscuits. These various objects are now distributed on lushly painted fields that look -- well, they look to me rather the same as before OO technology entered the picture. For Podeswa, the handsome new paintings are the embodiment of what he calls "my two lives": still-life paintings "constructed like Object-Oriented diagrams, narratives written in a visual language borrowed from the software world."