Raymond Waters shreds and unravels American culture

at Craig Scott Gallery

Raymond Waters, VALUES

Opening Reception Friday, Februray 1, 2008, 6-9 p.m.

Continues February 1 - 29 February 2008
Exhibition URL: “VALUES exhibition page”


Raymond Waters’ first solo show engages with the values and symbols of American life and of the United States’ presence in the world. Each work simultaneously affirms and queries those values and symbols by making art from raw materials of American cultural identity. In VALUES, Waters transforms vintage film reels, flag fabric, US currency, gold, bright lights, and tabloid newsprint into remarkably balanced works – powerful both conceptually and aesthetically. Paralleling the Canadian nationality of the artist, a Canadian invention – Plexiglas – forms a clear barrier between the viewer and the ultimate image.

Eleven of the pieces in the VALUES exhibition are created by Waters from the interaction of film and light. In a process of controlled spontaneity, Waters generates works that resonate with the spirit of Jackson Pollock’s ‘drip’ works, both in result and process. As Pollock so famously did and as did the Navajo sand painters who inspired Pollock, Waters works by standing over and moving around his canvas as he lays down his image. Works include Martin Luther King, Jr., From Montgomery to Memphis (1972) 16mm, King Kong (1933) 16mm, The Gold Rush (1925) Charlie Chaplin 8mm(see image above, to the left), and Deep Throat (1972) 16mm.

The precise interaction between the aesthetic and a conceptual planes of Waters’ film works depends in each work on a range of factors from the physical properties (colour, gauge, length) of the film used, to the subject-matter and cultural referents of the film, to the source, intensity, and density of lighting selected for the particular work. Each work also embodies a tension at the level of social commentary about values (especially about American or Americanized values), a constant tension between homage and critique. In conversation with the works around them, various film works interrogate the relationship between film and foundational values like freedom, democracy, equality and, now, security in American narratives.

If Waters’ film works draw life from their open-ended meaning(s), Waters’ flag works – three in total (New Orleans August 2005; You Are Either With Us or Against Us; (see image above, to the right) and White Flag) – are positively redolent with ambiguity. The flag works involve reconstituted American flags undulating against a backdrop of white gold leaf on canvas. “Reconstituted” refers to the fact that the flags have first been shredded by Waters into strips before being put back together as new – and, paradoxically enough, renewed – objects.
The subject of Waters’ flag works can be understood as being not (only) the American flag but (also) the American flag in art. There is a straight line through history that links Waters’ works with Jasper Johns’ 1950s flag works. It is also this icon and not simply the flag ‘itself’ as icon that is addressed by Waters.

Accompanying the film and flag works are Five Hundred Dollars ($US 500 worth of shredded $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills) and Various Tabloids Fall 2006 (shredded newsprint).

VALUES continues throughout February. The show opened precisely on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the opening of “Jasper Johns – Paintings” (January 20, 1958, Leo Castelli Gallery, New York). This year – 2008 – is also the 60th anniversary of the year that is widely recognized as the single most important year in the development of Pollock’s signature ‘drip’ paintings.

Upcoming Exhibitions: Following VALUES, Craig Scott Gallery presents Scott Waters’ exhibition of new military-life paintings, TIME HEALS ALL WOUNDS – NEGOTIATING A LIE, PT. 2, in March; Rudolf Bikkers’ bio-fantastic mixed-media works (acrylic painting on colour lithographs), MORPHOGENETICS, in April; and Julie Tremblay’s metal sculptures of floating figures, REFLECTIONS, in May. Please visit the gallery’s exhibitions page at: “CSg EXHIBITIONS page”

Contact: For more information on the exhibition or upcoming exhibitions, including to request high-resolution images or interviews with the artists, please contact Craig Scott, Director, at 416.365.3326 or at

Location and Hours: Craig Scott Gallery is located in downtown eastside Toronto in the Old Town, very near to the Distillery District. We are one street west of Parliament, and between King and Queen Streets East on the ground floor of the Berkeley Studios building.

The gallery is open at the following times: Wednesday to Saturday 12 – 6; Sunday 12 – 5; or by appointment. We are closed on Monday and Tuesday.
TEL + 1 416 365 3326


Gallery Moos Gallery Moos