The Eyes Have Walls: Nicole Ondre and Mina Totino

The Eyes Have Walls

Photo: Stan Douglas, 2020.


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About the Exhibition

This exhibition features paintings and ceramic works by Vancouver-based artists Nicole Ondre and Mina Totino. Ondre and Totino challenge the mechanical processes of their materials and through their experimentations cause their artistic media to elude fixed forms.

Ondre creates her paintings on tracing paper that is coated in tinted glue, suspending them over ceramic bars or tying them into bows. Totino’s paintings start with a single veil of colour, upon which she builds additional layers of different paints and finishes the edges with more colour. There is an inherent uncertainty in these works—the surfaces and materials are encouraged to defy their formal limitations.

Layers of colour are of equal importance to Ondre and Totino’s ceramic works. These are not made to be functional, but neither are they wholly decorative. Ondre ties elaborate knots from extruded clay and eschews glaze in favour of paint. Totino fashions pots in variable shapes and sizes, applying layers of glaze, like paint, that result in multi-coloured asymmetrical patterns. For both, their ceramics are made with an element of instability, in the same way that they cannot always at first discern the end result of their paintings.

Taken together, these paintings and ceramic works encourage a dialogue about the act of art-making. These works contain an inter-play between materials, such as clay and paint. The experimental processes held in the artists’ physical and mental labour is of paramount importance, even more so than the meaning of each individual piece. The layering, knotting, and shaping of their materials results in an amalgamation of different forms, united by elements of unpredictability in their making. At first glance, their materials are self-evident, but on closer inspection, surprises wait around every corner.

About the Artists

Nicole Ondre is a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program of the Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg. She has exhibited her work internationally, including projects at Diaz Contemporary, Toronto; Or Gallery, Vancouver; Unit 17, Vancouver; Hayaki Arti, Istanbul; and Benzulli Ziegt, Dusseldorf. She ran Exercise project space with Vanessa Disler in Vancouver from 2011 to 2013. Since 2010, she and Disler have collaborated as the artist Feminist Land Art Retreat, and have exhibited widely in North America and Europe.

Mina Totino received a diploma in art from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 1982. Her work has been exhibited at Belkin Gallery, Vancouver; Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Oboro Gallery, Montreal; Diaz Contemporary, Toronto; Galerie Likofabrik, Berlin; and the Latvian Center of Contemporary Art, Riga. In 2014, she received the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation Viva Award.


The art museum was pleased to partner with the School of Motion Picture Arts Capilano University and students Aislinn Boyle and Kathryn Bons to make this film about the exhibition.