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Terence Dick
20 Years at Lonsdale Gallery
April 07, 2016

The tenth anniversary of the first Akimblog review is coming up in a couple weeks and I'm feeling a tad reflective about the passage of time. Now that I refer to the past in terms of decades not years, I spend a lot more time dwelling on what it all meant rather than what it’s going to be. Your past is an undeniable indicator of who you are, so institutions, just like people, benefit from the reminder as well as the reassertion (or sometimes recalibration) of that history. Angell Gallery is marking twenty years in the game this month, as is the downtown's northernmost outpost Lonsdale Gallery. Both spaces are marking the occasion by hosting gatherings of their various alumni with the result being less a hit parade and more like a family reunion where you’re happy to see some familiar faces, surprised to someone new, and careful to steer clear of those you know to avoid.

Elisabeth Picard, Rainbow Mountains, 2015, 60 000 dyed Zip-Tyes

I visited the latter gallery, drawn in by the striking suspended weaving by Elisabeth Picard strategically placed in the front window. Rainbow Mountains did its job of getting me through the door, but the shadowy mass splayed across the back corner made me want to stay. Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann’s Slurry is an ectoplasmic abstract barf combined with an ink-drawn evocation of caffeinated anxiety. And I mean that appreciatively. Amongst the better behaved works spread through the gallery's two levels, there are a handful of notable anomalies, like Jim Hake’s sign language signing gloves, Patrice Charbonneau’s intriguingly incomplete painting of what might be a shower curtain, and Keith W. Bentley’s bifurcated blue garden sculptures.

Peggy Taylor Reid, form follows (dis)function, shoes, 2016, inkjet print

Hidden away in a nook on the second floor is the prize inside for this grab bag art exhibition. Peggy Taylor Reid makes the kind of art that I didn't think anyone made anymore. There's a touch of Micah Lexier in her use of cardboard, but the classification of forms in her flatly objective prints of various cardboard containers harkens back to commodity critiques of the nineties and structuralist photo docs of Bernd and Hilla Becher. There's also a sly humour and the melancholy of detritus, linking junk art and found abstraction with the dumb simplicity (as in directness) of neo-conceptualism. It feels old but fresh and timeless in that way all art aspires to. The more I hung around it, the more I fell for it, though I worried my reaction was just evidence of a weakness for nostalgia (just like my ongoing fondness for indie rock of the nineties). Haven't I grown up yet? Isn't it time? The wisdom and certainty of age that I expected when I was younger isn’t as emphatic as I hoped, which isn't to say I don't know what's good; rather, I still appreciate - even hunger for - whatever confusion comes next. That's what will carry us through to the next big birthday.

Lonsdale Gallery:
20 Years continues until May 1.

(see Page McBurney's InstaView here)

Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.



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