Canadian Art - - Reviews -


In anatom­i­cal at­lases, there are cuts, but no blood. The body is ex­posed, with its most in­ti­mate, hid­den de­tails on dis­play. The com­plex­ity and depth of a per­son’s his­tory, re­la­tion­ships and suf­fer­ing are as­sumed through the cold fact of the body’s ex­is­tence.

In “Hang upon to­mor­row and lose to­day”— a phrase adapted from Seneca’s 2,000-year-old trea­tise On the Short­ness of Life—small sculp­tures by Jane Buy­ers and Zachari Lo­gan lay to­gether on a slab. Buy­ers’s Prat­ica (1995/1997/2000) are semi-ab­stract bronzes. A merg­ing of tools, the body and flora, la­bo­ri­ously pati­nated, they look brit­tle de­spite the strength and weight of the ma­te­rial. The me­an­der­ing, or­ganic-shaped pieces seem as though they have been buried for ages in a fal­low field. Lo­gan’s painted-ce­ramic Cut flow­ers, af­ter Mary De­lany (2016) are be­tween the real and ar­ti­fi­cial. The cut stems ap­pear sharp, but the in­tri­cate plants re­tain shape and vigour, their colours strong.

Both artists draw on the long his­tory of botan­i­cal metaphor, mor­ph­ing the built-in sig­ni­fiers of death, celebration, af­fec­tion, gen­der, sex­u­al­ity, mem­ory and the do­mes­tic. Their con­sid­ered and up­dated tax­on­omy con­cerns hy­brid­ity, and the dis­cur­sive unity be­tween the two artists’ pre­oc­cu­pa­tions cre­ates a rich di­a­logue that mim­ics the un­der­tones of a deep con­ver­sa­tion.

It is hard to tell the rea­sons be­hind some of the de­ci­sions in the gallery setup, such as paint­ing plinths and parts of walls pink, or plac­ing one of Buy­ers’s par­tic­u­larly ovar­ian-shaped sculp­tures on a pink wall di­rectly fac­ing the blue­flow­ered wall of Lo­gan’s paint­ing Kitchen Wall­pa­per (1410 La­trace Rd.). Though these choices flat­tened the mean­ings of the works, push­ing them to­ward a gen­der bi­nary and tak­ing away from the more nu­anced ideas of iden­tity and sex­u­al­ity rooted in the art, the tan­gled evo­lu­tion of what hap­pens be­low the sur­faces of these art­works was still able to burst through. —ALEXIS KIN­LOCH

Screen­shot from the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia’s on­line Mod­ern and Con­tem­po­rary Poetry course, 2016

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