Few artists have practices as distinct as Paul Butler’s. Beginning in 1997 with his now legendary Collage Parties he has worked collectively and collegially to include and spark as many art making fellows as a given space could accommodate. These Parties were non hierarchical, using relational aesthetics to good effect—Rirkrit Tiravanija, without the food. Out of these occasions came work of astonishingly high quality. Butler’s own infallible sense of formalism, mixed with a minimalist sensibility produced spare, rigorous works or alternately, simple sheets using porn and fashion sources that sizzled in spite of, or because of their economy. He has used the material of current culture, including high-end art magazines to produce work uniquely his own. His media also includes the idea-based “Reverse Pedagogy” experimental school sessions, his Upper Trading Post website for artists only—a nice way to side-step the art market and his Greg Curnoe Project, an homage to the noted artist and bicyclist from London, Ontario who played a formative role in contemporary Canadian art. His most recent collaboration is a project he has designed with Winnipeg artist Craig Alun Smith, a collage party pavilion they identify as a social sculpture.
The disciplines in which Paul Butler has engaged are so multivalent and diverse that the simplest term to apply to this artist is “post-disciplinary.” It is his own designation. He is the founder of the migratory collaborative workshop, the Collage Party, which has toured internationally since 1997. He is also the director of the nomadic contemporary commercial gallery, The Other Gallery, which has presented some of Canada’s most significant young artists to international audiences. In 2008 he initiated an experimental art school expounding an approach he identifies as Reverse Pedagogy. Coincidental with his collaborative activity he has continued to produce his own work which is exhibited in Canada, the us and Europe.