Didier Courbot’s A Place Where It Rained reflects on urban planning issues.
DUSSELDORF CONTEMPORARY REDUX at Susan Hobbs Gallery (137 Tecumseth), to August 9. 416-504-3699. Rating: NNN
Sometimes the best-laid plans can crumble in the face of circumstance. But sometimes another useful form can be found for them.
The latter’s the case with Düsseldorf Contemporary Redux, a summer group show of gallery artists’ pieces originally destined for a cancelled German art fair.
Interestingly, many of its artists riff on the theme of planning and the ways it can go awry.
Didier Courbot’s photograph Something That Was Not Yet Planned shows small lengths of lumber taped to the branches of a tiny tree. Krista Buecking’s Proposal For Ruins series uses an architectural drafting style to imagine Modernist mansions with pre-busted doors, walls and windows. In his Short Cuts sculptures, Axel Lieber cuts off all the outside corners of an object – for example, a dresser – and then assembles those corners to look like a super-mini dresser. He uses the technique with mirrors as well. The result is a “compressing” or “zipping” of the object into a plan or outline of itself.
Not all the works adhere precisely to the theme, but there are still echoes. Laura Vandenburgh’s delicately coloured drawings resemble coastlines, maps and geological cross-sections. Donovan Barrow’s seemingly abstract paintings are based on studies of collapsed architectural maquettes. Scott Lyall trades in his usually massive sculptures for 2-D prints. And Patrick Howlett’s enjoyable small abstracts subjectively map the tendencies of art reviews like this one.
In almost all cases, there is a sense of interplay between surface flatness and symbolic depth, as well as tension between 2-D and 3-D experiences of space.
How to approach such heady, Hegel-friendly artworks? Kevin Yates offers a hint in his sculpture Bliss, where the title, in blue neon lighting, is affixed to a half-full bucket of water. This word is reflected in static, somewhat dusty fluid, becoming both a mirror-image and a real object.
That’s far from a step-by-step guide, but it’s still a blueprint for some fresh understanding.