Have you ever had the feeling, when standing before a work, that it moves? Not because the painting or sculpture are actually being animated by some sort of mechanism, or because they suggest the representation of movement, but rather because despite their static existence, something in them tingles, trembles, and ripples as though propelled by a desire to come alive?
Look straight ahead. Frances Adair McKenzie’s sculptural works look like the carapaces and moults of imaginary animals transformed into fossils of stained glass and set on the floor. Walk around them, take a closer look. Following your movement, each small scale of translucent glass shimmers and draws sinewy gleams of light above the stained-glass armature, composed in lines of copper and streaks of lead. Much more than a simple structure, this silvery tracery catches you in its mirage of labyrinthine images where you discover a geometric pattern one second, a vine trellis the next, then an iridescent landscape that quickly vanishes and metamorphoses into a new fantastical vision. Two folding screens made of similar stained glass zigzag in the space, seemingly about to stir. As with the carapaces emptied of their occupants, the screens do not conceal or protect anything. Instead, they brazenly flaunt their trickster transparency as though to better catch your eye in their trap of spellbinding lines.
Through the glass reflections, the bright colours of Veronika Pausova’s paintings attract the eye from afar. You need to walk across the space, pass the folding screens—perhaps even pass through the mirror—and get closer and then even closer to the works in order to decipher their visual charades. Impressions of pants, a turtleneck, and a slip float in abstract spaces as though they had been hastily tossed there in the urgency of desire, while a collection of handbags reach out to you with their handles or zippers, inviting you to peer inside. Go even closer until your nose almost touches the painting. Here and there you see flies appear, or a fish’s bulging eyes, stylized flowers with sharp petals like predator teeth, a wandering finger, and then another, or strange spheres with eight long twisting legs like those of some unknown species of spiders. One crawls. One climbs along a sweater’s pulled up sleeves. One gnaws at the wavy folds of a red curtain. One twists and nestles in the smallest cranny.
United in this duo exhibition at Parisian Laundry, Adair McKenzie and Pausova offer puzzles that, each in their unique way, elicit a temptation to animation and even to a certain animism. Carapaces, bags, clothes, folding screens: so many veils and envelopes are here bunched up like a glove’s fingers, joyously displayed, and shamelessly offered to viewers like bait to lure our eyes, to play with, outplay, and ultimately stimulate our own desire to see.
PS: The exhibition concludes in the gallery’s bunker with a video by Adair McKenzie that will satisfy—you never know—the animation fantasies you’ve been itching to see all along.
Veronika Pausova was born in Prague, Czech Republic and lives and works in Toronto, Canada. She received her BFA from Glasgow School of Art in 2009 and her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2013. Recent solo and two person exhibitions include Drawing the Curtain at Hunt Kastner, Prague, Czech Republic; Age me a Heavy Twig at Franz Kaka, Toronto, Canada; Be Frictionless Latecomer at Simone Subal, NY, New York; Forest House at Tatjana Pieters, Ghent, Belgium; Chests in the Current at Motel Gallery, Brooklyn, New York; and Tasting the Waters at SARDINE Gallery, Brooklyn, New York. Recent group exhibitions include An Assembly of Shapes at Oakville Galleries, Oakville, Canada; Line and Verse at Andrehn Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Sweden; You are Here at Peana Projects, Monterrey, Mexico; Gesture Play, Simone Subal, NYC, New York; andSeek Professional Help, Bureau, NYC, New York.
Veronika Pausova would like to thank Canada Arts Council for their generous support
Frances Adair Mckenzie is an interdisciplinary artist based in Montreal, whose practice includes video installation, sculpture animation and collaborative ventures. She holds a diploma in New Media from B.C.I.T. and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Concordia University. Her video work has been exhibited most recently in London and Berlin with collaborative projects in Iceland and Belgium. She has also exhibited work at Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; Centre Clark in Montreal; the Musée d'art contemporain des Laurentides and the Satosphere of the Société des Arts Technologiques (SAT), Montreal. Several of her animations have been commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada.
Frances Adair Mckenzie would like to thank to OBORO and Canada Arts Council for their generous support.