Libby Leshgold Gallery

Under the heat the banana tree becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Thirsty, it takes more and more energy into its roots and senses a squeeze throughout its torso. But as the banana tree grows, what at first feels like an embrace, morphs into a slow constriction as binds and shackles of copper grip its woody flesh. To its misfortune, the banana tree cannot stop growing. It pleads, it tightens, it pleads, it tightens, until it can take no more and begs you for release.


A botanical incantation is cast somewhere in the syncretism between mystic, precolonial and Catholic ritual. A shrine of lush confinement appears, a vestige from decades of violence and destruction, at once humid but sharp, vibrant but dark, as if watching a tropical thunderstorm. Spattered lead and reconstructed shards adorn the vessels that house the spirits in their sweaty splendor. Panes of glass seal secret spells, undisclosed, like that of a clandestine love affair. A vine reaches out its leaf to blow a kiss, a knowing wink to you from behind the window. Choose reverence or torment, you might get a wish.


Maybe the cousin to the banana tree spirit is the one that lies in the 42” flat screen. Is the energy running through the LED any different from the energy running through the vine’s stalk? Old-world spirits remain, while their manifestations take new forms. Advanced technologies generate electronic anting-anting and new cybernetic portals for spirits to reveal themselves. Like finding the holy ghost in a sunset, you never know when you might encounter the divine in the digital, hidden between corrupted images, chain emails and system error codes.


Text by Asia Jong


The Libby Leshgold Gallery is pleased to announce the presentation of flying kiss for receiving cheek, an exhibition by artist Simon Grefiel. This work will be presented in the southwest corner of the Libby Leshgold Gallery, in our exhibition space Glass Corner.


Simon Grefiel was born and raised in Tacloban City, Philippines, and currently lives north of the Fraser River, on the unceded territories of QayQayt and Kwikwetlem First Nations. Through digital works, performances, and objects, Grefiel explores language, ethnographic archives, spirits, and speculative narratives of human migration. Grefiel’s visual language is informed by dreams, familial stories, and images, proposing new ways of experiencing the supernatural realm and the material universe.





Canada Council for the Arts


Image: Simon Grefiel, flying kiss for receiving cheek (2021)