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Toronto
Terence Dick
Homecoming at Division Gallery | I was here at p|m Gallery
August 19, 2014

Any one piece, no matter how small, by David Altmejd provides more than enough eye candy to justify a trip to see an exhibition. The two heads he has on display at Division Gallery – though one is actually half a head and the other is a head and a bit – are chock full of material detail with glass, hair, putty, crystal and various modelling compounds in evidence. Every inch of surface reveals something new, more often than not his unique combination of organic and mineral forms with their respective associations to sex and geology. They stand out as the work that is not like the others in this gathering of five mid-careerish Canadians who have managed to make something of a name for themselves beyond the national borders.



Marc Séguin, Arctic River Pipeline, 2013, oil and charcoal on canvas

In contrast to Altmejd’s busts, his four peers all work in two dimensions. Scott McFarland contributes a trio of landscapes presented as a single image (a flower garden and the strongest work largely due to the cryptic figure at its centre), a pair of contrasting views (of an unfinished house at dawn and dusk), and a series (that breaks up a section of the Badlands over time as well as space). They will come in handy for those of you who missed his AGO solo exhibition that closed earlier this month. Karel Funk’s one painting is his take on a vanitas still-life and a break from the hooded portraits that are really the paintings you want to see when you see his name listed as a participating artist. Graham Gillmore is represented with three of his text paintings and, while they have left me indifferent in the past (largely due to my antipathy to text in art), in this context they held my attention and I managed to look past the words (which has probably been the point all along) to see the overall visual construction with its many layers and painterly gestures. And then there are Marc Séquin’s canvases, which are sparse in comparison (and the one with the formerly live coyote reminds me – as do most works with dead animals – of student work). However, one in particular (Arctic River Pipeline) is worth a long lingering look-see because it combines two distinct media (oil and charcoal) to set up an unnerving balance of irresolution. Try as I might, I could not make sense of this giant archetype of the Canadian landscape. That, if you ask me, is what I call a good time.



Janine Miedzik, Mantle, 2014, polyvinyl tarpaulin and fabric duct tape

A similarly pleasing confusion can be found in the artistic duet on display at p|m Gallery. Jennie Suddick works mainly with white paper, carefully cut in detailed representations of the built environment or embossed without colour to create white-on-white reproductions of graffiti or a brushstroke (this latter series gives the exhibition its title – I was here – though that could be the unspoken name of every artist’s work). Janine Miedzick’s pieces, on the other hand, are plunked on the floor and are undeniably objects in the way they take up space. They are also vibrantly coloured with stripes of duct tape that cover the full spectrum mapping out the geometry of the tarps they adhere to. Or at least that’s what I assume. Miedzick leaves them crumpled or slumped so that any original order is lost in the warping of the material as it collapses under the weight of gravity. The apotheosis of this relinquishing of control is a massive polyvinyl quilt that has weathered this most un-seasonal of Augusts in the open courtyard behind the gallery proper. Draped from one wall and piled on the concrete, it serves to intrigue and frustrate anyone interested in what lies within its folds. As for how it relates to the delicate layers of cut paper inside, we have ten more days to come up with an answer.


Division Gallery: http://www.galeriedivision.com/toronto/exhibitions
Homecoming continues until August 23.

p|m Gallery: http://pmgallery.ca/
Janine Miedzick & Jennie Suddick: I was here continues to August 30.


Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.

 

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