Peter MacCallum and Mark West at Eric Arthur Gallery, U of T (230 College) to June 8. 416-978-5038. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Here's a show that's dry and sloppy. In Cement, Concrete, photographer Peter MacCallum and architect Mark West explore the properties of what must be Toronto's most abundant building material. Regarded by most as dull and ugly, concrete can actually have magical properties when poured by skilled hands.West, an innovative architect for whom the University of Manitoba has built an entire research facility, likes his concrete wet. As curator Kenneth Hayes points out, West's work looks sloppy to our eyes.
He pours his concrete into underwater fabric moulds. The concrete displaces the water out of the mould and sets in whatever organic shape the corset dictates. One of these innovative moulds hangs in the gallery window like an oversized jean dress.
A series of photos and black-and-white sketches line the walls. They reveal the undulating, textured columns that have been poured from West's moulds. A large hall of his design has exposed beams made of concrete that resemble the structural ribs of a human chest cavity. In West's hands, the same material that forms our city sidewalks settles into shapes more akin to the trees and rocks of our forests. His work is truly inspiring.
MacCallum, a photographer who has mastered the art of capturing light and shadow in silver, prefers his concrete set. For one series, he pointed his camera at the concrete industry in Ontario. Large factories made of concrete sit out in fields, busily churning out cement to make more concrete to make more plants to make more cement, and so forth. It's the reproductive cycle of concrete.
The shots are simple, but aside from the documentary value of the work, they are masterfully executed. The beautiful interplay of shadow and light across large concrete structures -- something we often lose sight of when we bash the material -- is revealed through his firstname.lastname@example.org