Surface & Stratagem

Maryanne Casasanta, Svea Ferguson, Brendan Flanagan, Mike Goldby, Tyler Los-Jones, Abby McGuane, Dylin North, Jade Rude, Michael Vickers

Works in the exhibition

Division Gallery is pleased to present Surface and Stratagem, a show of work by nine artists, each of whom investigates surface, spatial play and contrived trickery. Featuring painting, sculpture, prints, and photography, the show runs June 26 to August 15, 2015, and features Maryanne Casasanta, Svea Ferguson, Brendan Flanagan, Mike Goldby, Tyler Los-Jones, Abby McGuane, Dylin North, Jade Rude, and Michael Vickers. The show’s reception takes place Friday, June 26 from 6-9pm.

The artists in this show share a fascination with material transformation. In contrast to the high modernist credo of “truth to materials”, the works in Surface and Stratagem appear to revel in their own deceptive qualities, engaging and surprising by looking like one thing while being another, or by morphing the mundane into the marvelous. Yet, the end game is not simple mischief, but a process of teasing out an unexpected beauty, or a resonant meaning that is more than the sum of its parts.

Svea Ferguson explores the unlikely material of vinyl flooring, transforming it from flat and functional to sensuously sculptural. The forms are based on drapery in classical marble sculpture, where the human body is implied under stone drapery. Ferguson views this work as an abstracted body, and is continuously interested in the possibility that synthetic materials can indeed find common ground with the natural world.

Like Ferguson, Brendan Flanagan is concerned with the shifting translations between the digital and material worlds. In Flanagan’s paintings the precision of computer-designed imagery is disrupted by paint’s material weight or the artist’s intentional interruption.  Appearing to be simultaneously hand and machine-made, the work highlights the tensions between the crafted object and design for mass production,

Abby McGuane shares Flanagan and Ferguson’s desire to explore the relationship between the artificial and the natural. Found and raw materials are worked into minimal forms that echo bodily gesture. A palette of mostly white, pastel green and taupe recalls the calming scheme used in hospitals and schools, affecting a dynamic contrast between the clinical and mechanically produced and the body and the sensual world.

Nature and artifice are also the subjects of Calgary-based artist Tyler Los-Jones, who reconfigures tourist photos of the Rocky Mountains through folding and re-photography. In the resulting undulating ribbons, the landscape, while still readable, is morphed into unnatural sculptural form, a comment on the process by which landscape photography is used to produce and fulfill our expectations of environments.

Dylin North likewise references geography in his work, although in this case it is the journey between places that is commemorated. The paintings in Where my ass has been are inspired by textiles found on bus seats the artist has occupied, with each painting titled by the journey’s year and beginning and end point. Thus they act as both records of physical movement and of the meditative time inherent in the voyage.

For Maryanne Casasanta, time is a principle agent. In her series, In Four Considerations of Different Fading Systems, photographs of various forms of moving light falling over architectural elements seem to disappear into a hazy monochrome. Uncertain yet intrigued, the viewer is compelled to spend time with these subtly evocative works, in which time’s passage is so beautifully captured.

Mike Goldby’s work also demands extended looking, as his dye-sublimated prints each comprise layers of found images printed on activewear mesh fabric. Beauty treatment visuals merging with apocalyptic Manga imagery and mesh fabric invoke the permeable quality of the human body. This nebulous haze reflects the confused state of humankind under the thumb of globalized mass-consumerism and cultural capital.

Jade Rude’s interest in the social fabric centres around architectural intentions and the processes by which society appropriates space. Not Yet Something, in chromed sheet aluminum painted flat black, explores the space between pictorial, illusionistic and actual space, while The Space In-between Private and Public is a monument to the most neglected and unnoticed areas of our surroundings.

Like other artists in Surface and Stratagem, Michael Vickers is interested in tension, specifically that between painting as pictorial space and the sculptural form. Beginning with a metal base (industrial steel and aluminium), he curls, bends and sprays, referencing sculptor Donald Judd’s idea of the “ specific object”, yet also retaining a painter’s love of immediacy and visual play.