Separating the desire to define from that of destination can be an exercise in itself. Art can act as a defining template to create meaning, and through its expansion it too can uncover boundless visions and attachments through figurative and abstract formations.

In SEARCH, two artists take the sense of discovery into focus, forming visual mazes of sexualized, confused, insecure and beautiful subject matter, which becomes seeded in desirous textures and cinematic video work.

Marisa Hoicka paintings

The questions pertaining to gender, love and responsibility are among some of the themes explored in the exhibition. Where this creation first begins for each artist is within the comfort of their homes, with their own surrounding tendencies and life awareness being trickled into the formation. Marisa Hoicka can be found within her Chinatown studio in Toronto, Johnny Forever within his living room in Montreal.

“I feel most comfortable at home, probably because the distractions weave their way into the work,” explains Johnny Forever.

There is an attraction to collision; the visual texts that seemingly invent a body of work are carefully constructed with both artists playing strong attention to the process of forming this artistic collision between thematic relevance and exploration of self.

“I often start with a thumbnail image of an interaction or a space that I’ll draw in a notebook, if multiple ideas are happening I’ll often draw and redraw the image until all the parts feel balanced within the composition. I usually have a rotation of about 5-15 paintings that I’m working on,” explains Hoicka

The inspiration that Johnny Forever and Marisa Hoicka look to may have similar bearings, while the art of longing permeates each text.

Johnny Forever video work

JF: “The fact that there is an insular “art world” is something I have struggled with for years. My participation in it comes with constant self-examination. I most often create with and for communities of rad queers, where art making is often linked with larger political goals. This is my first gallery show with no particular activist agenda and I have to consider what this means for me as a gender/queer person, but also as a white person who encounters little barriers accessing spheres that continue to be dominated by white men. That last part is something to fight. Tooth and nail.”

MH: “When I was kid I always loved art, but thought I’d end up in math or science. Once I was in high school with much support I began to realize it was a passion that I should seriously follow. I draw inspiration both from art and other artists as well as observing the communities around me and the stories that people tell me in daily life.”

Marisa Hoicka

JF: “My videos are personal and political dramas, spontaneously scripted and often shot in some meditative state. They come together thematically in the editing process. This is where I take care to consider how the things I have seen collide with what I have written.”

MH: “I improvise as I go along. Often the final piece will be quite different from the original idea. I’ll often start off with an idea of the composition, the tone and a direction for the style and technique but I allow for a lot of room for change and further develop it by adding colours and patterns as I go along.”

Each artist has outside subject attachments and interests that act as the soil to the inquisition and deliverance of their creative backlog.  Whether it is pornography, art history or discussions of body – the contemporary fixings that are seen in each of the works deform and consume without fret.

SEARCH was on view at gallerywest Toronto from September 29 through October 20 2012 (

Next Up:

Johnny Forever’s performance work as part of the HTMlles Festival, Montreal

Marisa Hoicka’s Mortal Coil at Shudder Gallery, Vancouver