Given the torrential downpour that beflooded Toronto last week and kept me checking my basement every couple hours for encroaching dampness, I couldn't resist a trip to Olga Korper's summer duet exhibition to see a work by American artist Jeremy Everett titled Most of My Fiction (flooded). In this as well as other book, newspaper, and poster-based sculptures, he submerges the texts in a chemical bath and allows the forming crystals to buckle and colour the now unreadable objects. As an avid bibliophile I am both horrified and intrigued by this process, curious to see what originals have been destroyed in the name of art, and pleasantly surprised by the legibility of the resulting metaphors: age, change, growth, nature, infection, mortality, learning, knowledge, and so forth. As gravestones for the books they once were, they serve as evocative reminders of the fragility and resilience of the word.
Jeremy Everett, Most of My Fiction (flooded), 2011, crystallized ink, paperbacks
Paired with Kristina Burda's paintings of irregular shapes, they also serve as the opposite extreme of abstraction – the organic, random, chaotic, and unintentional creation to her precise, careful (barely a brushstroke is visible), inhuman (those missing brushstrokes again), and (despite the soft colours) cold canvases. I can't help but be drawn to the former for reasons that are psychological as much as they are aesthetic.
As I make my way over to Christopher Cutts' summer show, I struggle to figure out just what I'm missing in Burda's work. There's just not enough there for me to latch on to and I've never been comfortable with (or trustful of) silence. Amidst the selection on view, I find more confirmation of what I'm looking for in Andrew Rucklidge's equally non-representational work as he adds unexpected elements – asymmetries, incompletions, incompatibilities – that keep this viewer off balance. I'm looking for art that gets in my face and challenges me; there's too much noise out there to be polite.
I find a clamorous crew down in Parkdale at General Hardware's summer group show ('tis the season) with Matt Crookshank's ill-behaved resin paintings refusing to stay on the paper, belligerently ignoring the rules of the form. Derrick Piens' sculptures also capture the process of becoming, resembling handcrafted versions of the elemental crystals that started my day. I bow before the forces of nature.
Olga Korper Gallery: http://www.olgakorpergallery.com/
Jeremy Everett & Kristina Burda continues until August 3.
Christopher Cutts Gallery: http://www.cuttsgallery.com/
Summer Group Show continues until July 31.
General Hardware Contemporary: http://generalhardware.ca/
Skipping Stones continues until August 31.
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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