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Winnipeg
Steven Leyden Cochrane
Kristiina Lahde at Martha Street Studio
January 20, 2015

Printmaking is, in many ways, an obvious fit for “classic” (O.G., capital-C) Conceptual Art’s concerns and sensibilities. By necessity, its processes are ordered and repeatable, its aesthetics commensurately tidy. Printmaking shares “documentary” qualities of immediacy and indexicality with other works on paper (drawing and photography, respectively), and fine art prints are close cousins of institutional and commercial forms of paperwork.



Kristiina Lahde

In Criss-Cross, which opened Friday at Martha Street Studio, Toronto’s Kristiina Lahde makes much of this natural affinity, laying out what seem, after the fact, like self-evident links between analogue printmaking and historical conceptualism. The trails left by ink-covered dice record chance operations, echoing a century of Conceptual and proto-Conceptual gestures. Mute impressions of carefully-arranged drafting triangles and tangled measuring tapes evidence a preoccupation with visualizing measurement straight out of a late-sixties Mel Bochner installation.

If Criss-Cross doesn’t aspire to break new ground, Lahde seems to relish the faint air of outmodedness that attends both her material processes and artistic precedents (even her drafting implements are slight anachronisms at this point). With a light touch, she wrings pathos out of otherwise pristine, procedural gestures, and takes evident pleasure in traditional printmaking’s tactile properties.

Several of the dice images are paired with hand-drawn mirror images, Lahde’s fastidious pencil recapturing each incidental swipe and splatter. Pointedly redundant, the graphite reflections painstakingly replay and “reverse” a literal (and perhaps overly literal) stroke of fortune. They’re also the only “reproductions” in an entire show of print work.

Stacked imprints of special right triangles create vibratory fields and the illusion of overlapping planes, hovering somewhere between abstraction and representation, Sol Lewitt’s proscriptive geometry and Louise Nevelson’s own exuberantly-patterned embossed paper works. Doubling and redoubling on themselves under the weight of the press, Lahde’s tape measures yield patterns of satisfying depth and complexity, her treatment of the everyday objects a gentle nod in the direction of Gerald Ferguson and NSCAD Conceptualism.

Nothing about Criss-Cross comes as a surprise, exactly, but the work is well reasoned and uniformly lovely.

An opening reception will be held Friday, February 6, with an artist talk by Lahde taking place the following afternoon.


Martha Street Studio: http://printmakers.mb.ca/mss/exhibit/criss-cross-kristiina-lahde-main-gallery
Kristiina Lahde: Criss-Cross continues until February 20.


Steven Leyden Cochrane is an artist, writer, and educator based in Winnipeg, where he contributes weekly exhibition reviews to the Free Press. He is Akimbo’s Winnipeg correspondent and can be followed @svlc_ on Twitter.

 

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