The human body. The human being. Expectation and convention might suggest, I suppose, that I talk about the aesthetic gaze as it is sculpturally focused on the human body. But I’ll slide sideways a bit, so that while the human body, the human being, is indeed the focus of work I want to talk about, there is nary a representation nor visual reference to the aforesaid anyway in sight. This is about the foreign invaders, those intrusions (intended or not) into and upon the body that, for the most part, fall into two distinct groups: viruses and bacteria and pathogens on the one (by-and-large unwelcome) side, and the oral medications we so increasingly consume to deal with myriad physiological and psychological maladies on the other. Viruses and bacteria and other pathogens are generally of the natural world, while medications are obviously no such things. The oppositions of the natural and the synthetic come into play here, but intentionally so, and I proffer by way of examples the work of two artists, Luke Jerram and Colleen Wolstenholme – one British and the other Canadian. Continue reading
You can blow soap bubbles in the wintertime, and do it outdoors; it’s not just a summertime, outdoors thing. If you do it carefully enough, you can watch the completed bubble begin to freeze. But there’s a catch: the bubbles, alas, don’t last very long. Freezing creates cracks, and cracks allow trapped air to escape, and, well, you can figure out the rest. Continue reading
Through the first half of 2018, the Gardiner Museum in Toronto – an eminent institution devoted to ceramics – mounted The Riverbed, a gallery installation by New York City-based artist Yoko Ono. Continue reading
Representation. Well, there’s a loaded term if ever there was; a veritable minefield. It has myriad meanings, associations, connotations, what have you. So let me narrow it down – quite a bit, actually – to what I’ll call “standing in place of.”
By that I basically mean the displacement of something – in this instance, aesthetic displacement – and that shape of the consequent void being occupied by something “other,” something, well, something “standing in place of.” Continue reading
This starts with glass. Again.
This time, though, it’s not the hot glass of the studio, but rather the commercial and industrial variety. Like Pyrex, that stuff so familiar to us through its use in durable kitchenware for cooking (and maybe less familiar for its use in laboratory glassware). And the setting is of course neither a kitchen nor a lab, but an austere gallery space – your standard white cube. Along one long wall stand 700 long and thin Pyrex rods. The rods are transparent, and actually lean relatively untidily against the wall. Continue reading
I would suggest that there are two primary paths through clay and toward the sculptural: one through (or into) the vessel, and the other not so much.
Okay, that’s not so profound a statement, but really it does rather boil down to this kind of polarity. Either you embrace the fact that clay has pretty much always been about the vessel form and all of its utilitarian associations (and I am here ignoring the fact that clay was actually once the primary means of written communication, but never mind) and work your way through that field towards its sculptural ends; or you pretty much bypass it completely. Do an end run, so to speak. The powerfully abstract sculptural work of an artist like Peter Voulkos might strongly suggest that he took the latter course, but he was no stranger to the pot. Continue reading
I came of age – the late 1970s – in an artistic environment in which artists, and not curators or gallery directors, were taking the lead. In Canada, this led to the founding of galleries right across the country that were programmed and run by artists. One of the credos of this movement was the idea that you were an artist if identified as an artist. Continue reading