Figuration (cont’d): Kathy Venter and Evan Penny

Evan Penny, Self Portrait after Gericault’s Fragments Anatomiques, 2017, pigmented silicon, fabric, resin, 57 x 78 x 18 in.

When last we spoke about what I’ve been calling “figuration ” – the aesthetic drive towards representing the living, breathing organisms that populate this here planet (even if only in our fevered imaginations – I’d introduced work that tended towards the smaller scale, towards sculptures that referenced figurines, addressing issues raised by such mass-produced items of collectible nostalgia, like Hummel or Royal Doulton figurines, or the even smaller stuff that once came with the tea bags we purchased. Continue reading

Robin Peck: The Heads of the Town Up to the Aether

Robin Peck Sculpture

Robin Peck, Crania installation view, 2015, CANADA, New York

In an earlier blog posting, I wrote about the “school” of 1:1 sculpture as it had manifested itself in the work of some faculty and students at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax. Amongst the names was one artist whose work I didn’t discuss at any great length because in some ways it stood apart, despite having been extremely influential in the goings-on at the aesthetic hothouse that was the sculpture department of the period: Robin Peck. Continue reading

Ilan Sandler: Big, Precisely

Ilan Sandler Sculpture

Ilan Sandler, Double Storey, 2003.

I first encountered the work of Canadian artist Ilan Sandler in the summer of 2004. By “encountered,” I mean the experiential thing, not the second-hand meeting of a sculptor’s work – the mere seeing of it – in an image. This is an important distinction at so many levels, but for me it had to do with a meaningful encounter with scale. With big. Continue reading

High Fidelity

Marc Courtemanche sculpture

Marc Courtemanche, Toolbox of Tools (detail), 2010, stoneware and metal, to scale

There is, as a lot of people might remember from their art history classes, the renowned story related by the Greek writer Pliny the Elder concerning the artist Zeuxis, and of the claim that his painted representation of grapes achieved such fidelity to their subject matter that the birds attempted to eat them. Continue reading

Flicker and Border Blur

Jennifer Angus Sculpture

Jennifer Angus, Black wings

Like a lot of people, I suspect, I’m fascinated and utterly engaged by that in the world which I’ll call the “neither/nor”. That is, I’m taken by things – primarily works of art, but also literature, film, theater and even the more mind-boggling realities revealed by science – that are not tidily assigned to very specific categories, things that don’t fit into convenient intellectual or aesthetic boxes, that aren’t amenable to easy labeling and categorization. I’m talking about the equivalents, I suppose, of littoral zones, those ecological areas that straddle the meeting of land and sea – areas that are really neither/nor – and which are, intererestingly, fecund with life. Nature, it seems, often prefers such areas; hedgerows in farmed areas, the edges of forests – all are extremely amenable to the creative process that is life. Continue reading

Dawn MacNutt: Resisting the Monumental

columns-twined-feature

Dawn MacNutt, Columns, twined willow

You know how often I reference the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in my blogs? A lot, actually, in part indicative of my familiarity with and respect for the institution (having lived and worked in Halifax for a number of years, and having curated and written about a number of its faculty and graduates). But mainly it’s indicative of the importance of the place; in the late1960s artist and teacher Garry Neill Kennedy utterly transformed a staid, provincial art school into a veritable power house that came to have international prominence. Conceptualism became indelibly linked with the institution, and even departments traditionally considered realms of “craft” (like weaving and ceramics) felt, even embraced, its impact. NSCAD is long past its heyday when it was arguably considered the best art school in the world (perhaps exemplified in John Baldessari’s lithographic print I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art, done at NSCAD in the early 1970s), but the reverberations of what happened half-a-century ago continue to shape its path as it struggles for survival and relevance in the 21st century. Continue reading