Near, Far & Somewhere In-Between
October 17 – November 22, 2015
Our relationship to the land is complex. In an age of ecological upheaval, a new generation of artists is looking to the land as a metaphor for the human condition, ranging from the everyday to the surreal. Near, Far & Somewhere In-Between brings together three such artists: Laura Demers, Julia Martin and Annie Taylor who each take on the theme of the landscape as a means of self-expression and discovery. In examining their relationships to nature, these artists reveal new ideas of coexistence with the land. In their totality, these works speak to an intimacy with nature, tinged with cautionary messages of (self) preservation.
Laura Demers’s practice engages both painting and collage. Her mixed-media works use image fragments to create surrealist landscapes. Though her compositions are richly layered and brightly coloured, they are not calm pastorals. Rather, Demers’s land constructions play with the imaginary, the fabricated and the intangible. The spaces in her work aren’t easy, they force us to look. Just when the eye picks up on a hint of foliage or a grassy knoll, her obliterating gestural abstraction carries us into a new space. One work, Theatrical Fabrication, forgoes traditional supports, instead building the work up through layers of clear resin. The artist’s painting gestures and collage elements a suspended, seemingly in mid air. Here, her optical play on the landscape is realized in the third dimension. Demers’s unstable landscapes speak to a double-edged relationship with land somewhere between reverence and instability.
Julia Martin’s photographs show close-up images of natural elements such as foliage, grasses, plants and animals. These works borrow the filmic language of the establishing shot, the atmosphere in each piece speaking to a space imbued with emotion. For Martin, these are interior landscapes, her own sense of self reflected in found elements. The plant life she captures allude to ideas of mortality and the cycles of life – they grow and decay, they are affected by outside forces beyond their control, they are fragile and beautiful in their resilience. Light plays a critical role in these works. Often shot at night or in overcast conditions, lighting tempers the mood of each scene. For this series, the artist uses a cellphone camera and low-fi techniques to achieve a diaristic tone. In some works the degradation of the image is enhanced, exposed, to speak to ideas of memory and nostalgia. Martin’s photo diary of the land speaks to the artist’s transience and her continued search for a connection to place.
Annie Taylor’s photographs draw the viewer in with broken, light-catching fragments. On closer inspection, these shards reveal themselves to be collapsed landscapes. We are compelled by their beauty and at the same time question their disarrayed state. Her works present an interesting set of binaries: micro and macro, analog and digital, reverence and warning. Taylor plays with processes, her works existing somewhere between the scientific and the alchemical. The initial impulse of each work is pleine aire photographs, which are shot and developed using traditional analogue processes. Taylor uses photo emulsion as sculptural material, playing with physicality of the wet darkroom. The resulting compositions are shot in high definition digital, capturing the minute details of the emulsion tableaux. The final works are presented as round compositions that give the feeling of globes, yet the details of the works reveal themselves to be portals to other spaces. These photographs are at once hyper real, yet totally false. Talyor leads us to question our own place in the big picture and with each landscape fragment our notions of ecology are put off kilter.
Left: Annie Taylor, Earthly (Rifting), 2015, pigment print, 44.5 x 50 inches & Right: Annie Taylor, Earthly (Drift), 2015, pigment print, 44.5 x 50 inches