By Hannah Godfrey
and speak in vain to the silent ash
Catullus, “101,” trans. E. Cederstrom
and talk (why?) with mute ash
Catullus, “101,” trans. Anne Carson
I was boarding a train from London St. Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. At the end of the platform, on the wall of the station, above the clock, was some large, pink neon handwriting.
I Want My Time With You.
By Penelope Smart
The moment at evening
when the pictures set sail from the walls
— excerpt from “Cargo” by W.S. Merwin
Pictures on the wall in Jennifer Murphy’s The Shadow of Sirius stand tall and still. In the gallery, jewel toned birds, moths, dragonflies, frogs and flora of human-scale have migrated from a dream-like state or have been grafted from the pages of a children’s storybook. Except—as in a Grimm’s fairy tale—prettiness tends to couple with death. Murphy’s exquisite creatures came to life within our new countdown: one in which our time-frame for saving the planet can be counted in months (131), not years. As an exhibit that was mounted in the autumn of 2019, a few weeks after Iceland held its first funeral for a glacier and a few months before Australia’s skies turned red from its burning shorelines, Murphy’s silent gathering of animals, insects and flowers—borne from love, anxiety and heartbreak—take on the power of a silent vigil. Read More
By Ricky Varghese
In the Right of Inspection, Jacques Derrida wrote of the medium of photography in these terms: “You could speak of…[a photograph] as of a thinking, as a pensiveness without a voice, whose only voice remains suspended.” I was reminded of this evocative description when I saw Sandra Brewster’s show Blur, on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario from July 24, 2019 to March 29, 2020. The association between Brewster’s work and Derrida’s thinking was brought on by those very final words in the latter’s statement—“…voice [remaining] suspended.” (1) In fact, suspension—or rather what it means to be suspended, to be seen in a seeming state of frozen arrest, both within the frame and, perhaps, beyond it—seems to be an apt way of understanding and talking about the artist’s new work. Read More
By Brennan Kelly
They’re all turned away; faces pressed against the wall. The wood frames circumscribing their borders evince this rotational reversal, displaying the typically undisplayed—incidental flecks of paint, v-nails clasping mitred joints, hardware insets, and vacant nail holes. Despite their reversed orientation, each frame is still performing its principal function, framing (and thereby demarcating) a discrete composition. In this dualistic state of front-and-yet-also-back, a question arises: Are these works, as individuated units of frame and composition, exposing something previously concealed? Or are the frames themselves merely turned away? Read More
By Andrew Witt
Last year a number exhibitions, events and talks addressed the state of contemporary painting in Vancouver. The following essay is a belated survey of these exhibitions and events but also an analysis of the blind spots, clichés and missed opportunities that have stood out during the discussion. Paying close attention to the works on display, ‘Painting and Obstinacy’ attempts to short-circuit the dominant currents and tendencies of the debate by thinking through how the artworks themselves, through their formal manoeuvres and political content, shore up a new vocabulary for the reception of contemporary painting in the present.