My Highlights from Art Toronto 2014
This is my most classic, but irresistible, choice. Every time I have the privilege to see an artwork by this exceptional artist, I have to reconsider my historical understanding of landscape, form and color, painting and drawing, time and history. Always immediate, Cy Twombly eludes categorization.
Valérie Blass’s titles are always surprising, as is this one—“I have called a meeting with my executioner”—as they often bring together two impossible situations. This dialectic is everywhere in her work: her sculptures explore hybrid objects and figures; she revisits classical sculpture irreverently but skillfully, with unrestrained attention to technique, craft, and materiality.
Obviously I am not objective—as I am the curator of their exhibition at the Canadian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015—but the collective BGL are certainly among the most disarming, fresh, funny, clever, and exciting artists to work with. As they like to say: “We take genuine pleasure in breaking out of the traditional framework in which art is experienced, in order to bring the human being and art closer together and to give the alert, open minded spectator a physical and active experience.”
Pierre Dorion’s paintings are like a journey into architecture, constructed sites, museums, and gallery spaces. Often described as restrained or minimalist, they have an acute sense of place—difficult to describe. My preference is for paintings, as in this one, where the abstraction comes from a dialogue between the architecture and the tableau.
I am one of the few privileged people to have experienced this work in person last summer on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Quebec. Accessible only at low tide and for a very short moment twice every day before the tide came in, the artist was there welcoming people, cooking for them, offering oysters and drinks, carrying away everything except the table, anchored to a rock. La Table de la Méduse is a very relevant title, as the strong of the tide, the winds, and the waves evoke the famous artwork of the French painter Delacroix.
Originally associated with The Royal Art Lodge in Winnipeg, Marcel Dzama is known internationally for his sculpture, painting, collage, film, drawing, and dioramas. This watercolour drawing is intriguing, narrative, playful, and characteristic of Dzama’s ways of depicting the human figure, animals, and hybrids in fanciful and yet troubling references to art history, politics, and social experience.