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Gil McElroy
Jaime Angelopoulos at Cambridge Galleries
October 15, 2013

Well, I've said something to this effect before about other exhibitions, but damn, how good is this: Jaime Angelopoulos doing her sculptures and drawings at Cambridge Galleries. Just a handful of the latter: three oil pastels absolutely related to what is on the floor. Much more of the former: five of sculptures (bless her for using the exhibition space so well, giving each piece ample elbow room and avoiding the everything-including-the-kitchen-sink tactic), plus a couple smaller works situated on a wall-mounted shelf.

Jaime Angelopoulos, Emotional Feeler, 2013

It's all figurative, by which I mean her sculpture relates closely and intimately to the body as a primary referent, and to our physical presence as overtly figuring into the final shaping of an overall aesthetic experience. Scale is important, for none of her works confrontationally loom over us, and none are unnecessarily visually fussy. Rather, Angelopoulos opts for the clean directness of aesthetic engagement over tedious demonstrations of aesthetic complexity and self-congratulatory cleverness. Will the Tail Fall Off shows what I mean. Like most of the other sculptures here, it's a stick-like assemblage: a couple skinny blue tubes connected to one another that rise vertically from the gallery floor courtesy of an orange curlicue-like supportive element; the structurally simple arrangement is topped with small, triangular yellow flag. A Willingness to Break is a slightly more complex arrangement of orange tubes supporting, in a leg-like way, a horizontally-oriented work capped by a large red head-like form. And Emotional Feeler is an even slightly more complex amalgam of lime-green tubes from which vertically sprouts a long, thin orange tube that sags over onto itself near the top.

Okay, so the body is clearly referenced. The elemental arrangement of our biological bits and pieces sieved through the filter of natural selection is demonstrably a major source of aesthetic push and pull. Fortunately, that's not the be-all and end-all of Angelopoulos's sculpture. Her employment of aesthetic reductionism is of consequence; the diminishment of arguably anthropic elements to the level of almost primitive signifiers is important. There's no aping going on, no attempt to articulate a 1:1 correspondence between sculptural artifact and referent. And while her work flirts with abstraction, it never falls headlong into it. She resists committing to any aesthetic camp. Borrow? Yes. Pledge allegiance? Never.

Cambridge Galleries:
Jaime Angelopoulos: Heating the Hammer of Reason continues until November 3.

Gil McElroy is a poet, artist, independent curator, and freelance art critic. He is the author of Gravity & Grace: Selected Writing on Contemporary Canadian Art, four books of poetry, and Cold Comfort: Growing Up Cold War. McElroy lives in Colborne, Ontario with his wife Heather. He is Akimblog's roving Ontario correspondent and can be followed @GilMcElroy on Twitter.



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