July 25th - September 15th, 2012
This exhibition brings together four artists who, through contemporary investigations, seek to continue the conversation Russian avant-garde painter Kazimir Malevich began, and minimalist artists such as Josef Albers and Sol LeWitt developed further.
New Meditations begins with a reflection on the works of Malevich and his exploration of spirituality in art. In his famous painting White on White (1918), Malevich sought to create a visual illusion of spaciousness through colour compositions and the endless working of flat geometric forms. In this compositional space, the viewer accesses contemplation and transformation through Malevich’s building of movement through layers of colour and repeating geometric forms. Almost a century later, the artists in this exhibition have created works that not only echo Malevich and his conceptual successors Albers and LeWitt, but also propose new questions on ideas of spatiality and spirituality in art.
Guadalajara, Mexico-based Jose Dávila and Montreal-based Jessica Eaton directly reference these painterly histories through their own unique processes of art-making, including sculpture, painting and photography.
Dávila’s two works in the show, from his series Homage to the Square (2011), pay tribute to the work of Josef Albers, who produced a groundbreaking series of paintings between 1950 and 1976 that go by the same title. Here, Dávila employs sculptural forms by placing layers of translucent glass against a single painted square. Light passing through each panel of glass creates colour tonalities, thus bringing Albers works into a three-dimensional space.
Three new works (courtesy of Clint Roenisch Gallery) from Eaton’s series Cubes for Albers and LeWitt (2012) blends Albers’ examination of colour theory with LeWitt’s ideas of conceptual art. In her studio, Eaton arranges sets of cubes, which are painted white, black and varying shades of grey, and then photographs them, exposing the film through combinations of green, red and blue filters. The painted shade of each cube determines the hues and tones that are created when exposed to the different colour sources. This painstaking photographic process allows Eaton to explore the possibilities of manipulating time, space, perception and colour.
Toronto’s Derek Liddington and Vancouver’s Elizabeth Zvonar introduce the idea of abstract narrative as a means of creating open-ended conversations between the work and the viewer. Through these communicative strategies, they choreograph a contemplative dialogue between colour, volume, mark and form through the aesthetic language of Malevich, Albers and LeWitt.
Liddington’s new work, A Love Story Between 3 Squares (1959) (2012), continues his interest in prop, artifice and Modernist aesthetics. This new work uses visual languages derived from Constructivism, Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism to trace an illicit love story between three squares. The work investigates the literal possibilities for an abstract language that circumvents traditional narrative and historicity in turn for emotive responses brought on by composition, materiality and history. In this image, we are presented with a composition of two lovers torn apart by their love of another. Literally, the perfected spatial compositions of Malevich and LeWitt vibrate on the wall through the use of repeated and violent graphite marks. Composition, mark making and scale become an anecdotal staging for a moment of conflict and desire; a love affair of working class proportions.
Zvonar’s sculpture Object of Contemplation (Multidimensional Gateway) (2009) is a group of cubes of varying sizes assembled on top of one another. Made of two-sided coloured glass (in gold and blue), the arrangement of cubes creates a full rainbow range of colour, depending on the light. Here, Zvonar replicates a device that was available for purchase from the back pages of American Science journals. The device promised that, if meditated on for a sustained period of time, the viewer would experience the “4th dimension”. Here Zvonar plays with Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which indicated that the 4th dimension we experience (“spacetime”) is a combination of space and time.