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Calgary
Lindsay Sorell
Jacob Dutton at Five Art & Merchandise
May 23, 2018

There is a heart-shaped Jacuzzi floating in blackness, complete with romantically lit candle standing up on its own, a lip-like plump red rim, and steam emanating in a peculiarly angular blob. A bar of cotton candy-pink soap and a liquid dispenser rest on the tub’s edge next to a super shiny chrome faucet; a fuzzy pink rug waits for my feet on the ground. Ah, the holidays!



Jacob Dutton, Mintcondition, 2018 (photo: Kaitlin Moerman)

Jacob Dutton’s Mintcondition – a memorable three-painting exhibition currently on display at Five Art & Merchandise – caricaturizes familiar objects beyond nostalgic response. Sketches of what could be real-life encounters become surreal as they are rendered in pop colours, pastels, and perfect gradients, or reduced to flat patterns. Angularity and stoic parallel lines are subjected to a wildly intuitive squiggly mark in each painting. Dutton’s theatrical and humorous scenes create ambiguous narratives that point toward a non-gendered actor in the scene. After a while, I realize I am that actor.

The bright orange plastic water/juice cooler of my childhood makes an appearance, but I barely recognize it. Rendered in clean lines and surfaces, it is smooth like a Photoshop texture rather than covered in the rough ridges I used to run my hands along for a massage that gave me a shiver. Scribbles on the cooler that could indicate hair, closed eyes, and a nose in relation to the mouth-spout look like they were done with an iPhone pen tool.

Finally, not instantly recognizable either, is a view from the window-seat of an airplane. I survey a meal tray with a napkin, sliced cucumber, and bottle of water on it. The netted pouch containing an airline brochure on the seat in front of me, and a window, textured with cartoonish lines of clouds, is to the left. It’s a cheaper flight so obviously they upholstered the whole plane in the same recycled 1980s laser-patterned carpet that always lines Greyhound buses.

Painted using a mix of oil, acrylic, and housepaint, Mintcondition is pointedly flawful. Dutton challenges mediums to rub up on each other, making it clear where he taped what edge, and where paint has bled over its boundary. It appears that Dutton doesn’t care about – or doesn’t believe in – the illusion of the perfected image. He is after something tied to the personal hand –the intertwining of memory and object design, and identifying difficulties in tearing identity away from commercialized object. Dutton offers us tearaways.


Jacob Dutton: Mintcondition continues until June 3.
Five Art & Merchandise: https://fiveartandmerchandise.com/
The gallery is partially accessible.


Lindsay Sorell is an artist and writer who recently collaborated with the Advanced Toastmasters of Calgary for the IKG Live 1 performance festival and completed two solo exhibitions of new work: Exercises in Healing at Contemporary Calgary and Buddha, Why Am I Alone? at AVALANCHE! Institute of Contemporary Art. She is currently working on a large-scale watercolour painting of food and is the editor of Luma Quarterly. She is Akimblog's Calgary correspondent and can be followed on Instagram.

 

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