Oakville Galleries presents Eviction Notice, the first institutional exhibition in North America by Berlin-based Canadian artist Elif Saydam, from 29 September 2023 – 6 January 2024. The exhibition features a new body of work commissioned by Oakville Galleries and is curated by Theresa Wang.
In their expanded painting practice, Saydam examines the formation and judgment of aesthetic taste and the forces that influence them. With humour and rigour, the artist employs strategies of abundance and excess––combining diverse techniques, materials, content, and style––to create works that defy medium-specificity, bringing forth the connections between aesthetic and social ambivalences.
Eviction Notice comprises a new body of work encompassing painting, textile, installation, and photography. Drawing upon traditions of ornamentation outside of the European canon, Saydam considers the dynamics of desire that are extended to objects and social spaces. They mine the decorative as a methodical and transgressive tool, one inextricably bound up in racialized ideologies of class and gender, and mobilize its falsely attributed frivolity to challenge what, or who, is of value.
Set in the suburban backdrop of Gairloch Gardens where the gallery itself is a former home, the exhibition extrapolates the material qualities of built structures. Mural-sized pieces expose the gallery’s skeletal foundations and ornamental origins, articulating broader topics around our collective aspirations of social mobility within both private and public spaces. In addition, diminutively-scaled artworks depicting urban landscapes under threat by commercial development are heavily embellished to form an expanding archive of cities bending and breathing under the inevitable forces of gentrification. Ultimately, the focus is on the lives and desires of those who dwell within these spaces. Saydam stages these relations and complicates them by using a contradictory logic of adornment. Together, the works in Eviction Notice disrupt, take up, and reshape spaces through the visual grammar of decoration to offer emancipatory potential.