MARK NEUFELD: Re-enactments
To Feb. 14, 2015
Gallery 1C03, University of Winnipeg
By Cliff Eyland
"All Hands on the Bad One"
Mark Neufeld, "All Hands on the Bad One," 2013, photo collage, 24" x 18.8".
Mark Neufeld creates a rewarding parody of what he calls “curatorial care” in this exhibition, a compact total work that includes painting, photography, appropriated prints, collage, sculpture, found objects such as trays and plastic vessels, and, in a tour de force, a scripted performance by professional actors about both art handling and local history.
The largest work is a giant reproduction of the cover of an old Winnipeg Art Gallery catalogue for a historical show called Dreams of Fort Garry. This sets the show firmly within a Winnipeg orbit. Directly across from it is a similarly sized monochrome painting that picks up the catalogue cover’s green background colour, as if to erase its content. A monochrome painting means the highest of high art in our culture but in combination with the large reproduction of a genre painting of settlers hauling a Red River cart it seems to suggest Neufeld’s reflection on his distance from local source material to which he would like to reconcile himself.
Mark Neufeld, "Curatorial Studies," 2013, photo collage, 24" x 18.8".
Neufeld is fairly new to Winnipeg, having accepted a teaching post at the University of Manitoba in 2011. His recent work might be an attempt to personally calibrate that move and to find his artistic place in his new city. Neufeld’s collages of photographs of borrowed Remington cowboy sculptures, his paintings of white-glove art handling and model building, and, most importantly, his theatre, represent what I’d guess is his guarded identification and reconciliation to his new circumstances. As his performers caress borrowed Remington bronzes (an activity real art handlers never do, by the way) Neufeld does a kind of seduction of his show’s local references and perhaps his audience.
"Moving Sculptures II"
Mark Neufeld, "Moving Sculptures II," 2013, oil on canvas, 30" x 22".
Neufeld’s cool analytics align with Winnipeg’s recent turn to conceptualism by young artists such as Divya Mehra, older artists such as Jeff Funnell, and mid-career souls such as Neil Farber and Michael Dumontier. Winnipeg art is changing, becoming more intellectual, and Neufeld’s new colleagues at the University of Manitoba are doing their part in this transition.
Sigrid Dahle’s essay is a delightful read and essential to the experience of the show, making it a nice collaboration. She sets the historical context for the fun Neufeld has with historical play and play making.