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Art

#climate crisis#humor#painting#satire#social commentary#Toni Hamel

Through Incisive Paintings, Toni Hamel Highlights Futile and Inadequate Responses to Global Issues

March 7, 2023

Grace Ebert

“Ikebana VII (The Arrangement)” (2023), oil on canvas, 18 x 18 inches. All images © Toni Hamel, shared with permission

It may be human to err, but Toni Hamel’s characters take mistakes and futility to irrational conclusions. The artist (previously) is known for her keen wit and observations of contemporary life, which she translates into oil paintings that place folly at the center: a woman paints red stripes onto a tulip’s petals, a man gestures toward a celestial Amazon logo, and a team numbers clouds suspended in the sky.

Many of Hamel’s works comment on inadequate responses to major issues like the climate crisis and social inequities, and she often paints scenes with figures undertaking unhelpful and unrelated actions to remedy the problem. Her “Activist” paintings, for example, depict a melting arctic and figures attempting to stop the loss of life and landscape through words alone. Laced with humor and satire, Hamel considers her work a form of protest and “a reflection of my general preoccupations as an artist.”

Currently living and working in Kingston, Ontario, Hamel will have many of the pieces shown here at CK Contemporary in San Francisco in the coming weeks. You can find an archive of her works on her site and Instagram.

A painting of two men writing numbers on clouds to count them

“The tally” (2023), oil on canvas, 18 x 18 inches

A painting of a man standing on the earth pointing at a red orb with the Amazon lgoo

“To infinity and beyond” (2022), oil on canvas, 12 x 12 inches

A painting of a woman painting red stripes on a tulip's petals

“Ikebana VI (Final Touches)” (2023), oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches

A painting of two people drawing an oversized pigeon

“Prototype I” (2019-2022), oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches

A painting of a whale and a person writing "stay" in yellow on its belly

“The Activist II (Stay)” (2022), oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches

A painting of a woman sweeping the petals of a tulip

“Ikebana V (Spring Cleaning)” (2023), oil on canvas in artist’s frame, 14 x 18 inches

A painting of a person scaling an iceberg to write "Last Call" in yellow on the side

“The Activist I (Last Call)” (2022), oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches

A round painting of a group of people standing together and looking at aircraft in the sky

“The arrival” (2022), oil on panel, 12 x 12 inches

#climate crisis#humor#painting#satire#social commentary#Toni Hamel

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