Kathy Venter – Life (Gardiner Museum)
West Coast ceramic artist Kathy Venter exhibited some three dozen sculptures of the female form in her recent solo show at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, and, as the cover of her catalogue makes clear, these life-sized nudes evoke real women with ample breasts and bellies, not the anorexic models of popular culture. They stand with a matter-of-fact attitude, rather than reclining or posing coyly for the male eye, as so often the case in Western art history. Venter further emphasizes the physicality of her subjects by creating surfaces, sometimes in various colours, that have a rough and tactile quality.
Curator John K. Grande notes in his essay that Venter deals with universal themes in ways that relate to current realities. Indeed, Venter, who moved to Salt Spring Island after emigrating from South Africa in 1989, says her initial ideas are drawn from stories of antiquity, whether myth, legend or religion, but are also informed by her daily life. “I’m rethinking how to tell the stories of today without overlooking the rich visual and conceptual history of the past,” she says.