Ideas & Things
Kamloops Art Gallery
March 28 to June 13, 2015
By Amy Modahl
"May 8, 1906: A Film Adrift in the Cosmos"
Mark Neufeld, "May 8, 1906: A Film Adrift in the Cosmos," 2015, paintings, vinyl text, crates, lamp, various found objects, spotlight and two sculptures by Frederic Remington (The Bronco Buster, 1895, and Mountain Man, 1903) on loan from the University of Manitoba, gift of William R. Newman, installation view.
For Ideas & Things, curator Charo Neville brings together six artists who traverse the space between materiality and idea-based practice. Each artist’s approach falls between making and collecting, creating webs of association between discrete art objects and the larger syntax of the gallery space.
Mark Neufeld’s work most closely enacts Neville’s curatorial focus. Neufeld excavates the mythologized story of American train robber Bill Miner as understood through the lens of a 1983 film by Jean-Luc Godard. Presented as if they were in a museum display, Neufeld’s disconnected items variously reference history and fiction. Text, found decorative metal plates, bronze statues of cowboys on horseback, and Neufeld’s original paintings question what we accept as fact and the reliability of perception. Neufeld calls this work an “object network,” a term that easily could be applied to the whole exhibition.
"Graces and Exemplars and Nymph"
Hadley+Maxwell, "Graces and Exemplars and Nymph," 2013, Cinefoil, magnets and steel, installation view.
Hadley+Maxwell visually unify disparate histories by merging iconic statues into one high-relief installation. Graces and Exemplars is composed of fragments of monuments moulded in black aluminum foil and arranged on a metal grid. Faces line the top row, followed by columns, torsos, drapery and, at the bottom, feet. These fragments bisect place and time, echoing and intertwining deep narratives. Yet Hadley+Maxwell also cue the transitory, for the paint has worn away from some creases in the foil, in contrast to more enduring marble. Disposability is a secondary theme that weaves through this show, particularly in work by Derek Sullivan. He intentionally engages lowbrow materials, bringing together a motley assortment of pencil drawings and photocopies on a prefabricated wall reminiscent of a big-box store display.
"More Than Anything"
Kelly Lycan, "More Than Anything," 2014-2015, various materials, installation view.
Kelly Lycan’s work focuses on domestic spaces, commenting on the uniformity of contemporary decorating. Stacked vases and other precious and banal possessions that teeter atop crumbling drywall supports blossom into sensuous bulbous forms when covered with poured layers of white acrylic paint. Her work upsets the syntax of the home and the expected function of its contents, as do Jen Aitken’s subtle, low-lying sculptures. In colour and form Aitken’s work suggests industrial machinery hybridized with living room furniture, seemingly ready to perform some necessary task. Yet unlike the domestic sphere, viewers must gaze from a distance, carefully skirting and never touching them.
Installation view of "Ideas and Things"
Jen Aitken, installation view.
In Ideas & Things, each artist’s work builds on the relationships between human and thing, creating and collecting, permanence and immediacy. Essentially, Neville is asking viewers to read the art, letting their responses to the works combine, like words, into larger texts about how they understand objects and ideas.
"A turn of ninety degrees is the most that one can change direction without backtracking"
Derek Sullivan, "A turn of ninety degrees is the most that one can change direction without backtracking," 2015, various materials, installation view.