Under the protection of …
Grand narratives of the past and present evoke the notion of aegis as a protective invisible shield in the form of an association or club, a cult, a religion, a governing body, a legal court, a system of validation and strength, and ultimately something greater than mere mortals: an ideology. In Classical Greek mythology Athena wore her aegis in times of war and some say in times of peace. It was either a goat skin garment with gold tassels, or a protective shield adorned with the head of a gorgon, or some combination of both. Regardless of what form it took, Athena’s aegis was of the material world yet imbued with her immortal powers.
Michelle Grabner’s (Milwaukee, WI) gingham and crochet pattern paintings and her afghan blankets transformed into bronze sculpture honour traditions and domestic labor within the space of the gallery. She intentionally adopts the languages of large-scale abstract painting and the historical and heroic symbolism of figurative bronzes. Aneta Grzeszykowska's (Warsaw, PL) works from her Beauty Masks series are sober portraits of the artist in constrictive masks, coupled with a work from her Mama series, where the artist’s daughter interacts with a waist-up silicon replica of Grzeszykowska. Here she is adorning her mother with dabs of unruly make-up applied as fuchsia war paint. Grzeszykowska operates on surfaces of the self and self-representation in series that are at once haunting and darkly humorous. Ivy Haldeman (New York, NY) creates a complicated symbology of the female figure. In Image Makers, Peach and Tan she removes the woman but leaves the suits embodied. She also invents unexpected sultry possibilities by eroticising a lowly comestible in large scale paintings. Karen Kraven’s (Montreal, QC) cuttings are reformed into a kind of unwearable silk costume. Her textile pieces exist somewhere between the art of the couturier and abstract sculpture. Oversize looped belts and meticulously sewn scraps of fabric invoke a sense of suspended presence. Dominique Sirois (Montreal, QC) takes up the story of Danaë in a fragmented form of gridded ceramic tiles, alluding to both the mythological princess showered in gold, as well Titian’s multiple depictions of her. Ceramic welding masks appear as if they are melting into the wall offering an uncertain sense of protection.
Artwork by Michelle Grabner, Aneta Grzeszykowska and Ivy Haldeman is exhibited courtesy of James Cohan Gallery, Lyles & King and Downs & Ross respectively.