Lindy Fyfe’s fab fabric

LINDY FYFE at Verso Gallery (1160 Queen West), to October 4. 416-533-6362. Rating: NNNN

Abstract modern meets found art in Shift Twist, Lindy Fyfe’s fabric montages. An extension of a painting practice that has already earned her a major retrospective at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Fyfe’s new show at Verso retires paint entirely. 

With paint or without, Fyfe is a fearless cheerleader for sheer visual pleasure. By using patterned vintage fabrics found in thrift shops, sewing and stretching them into her canvases, Fyfe investigates formalist ideas about colour, pattern and form first vetted by the post-painterly abstractionists of the last century.

She adds her own playful twist, however. Her stretched pieces of vintage cloth carry a whiff of kitsch along with traces of the bodies that wore and moved in them. The world of fashion and, by extension, the body get dragged onto the canvas. The title Shift Twist says as much, evoking the play of pattern that happens to dresses on a dance floor. 

The results are exploratory and celebratory. Like many 21st-century visual artists mining the tropes of 20th-century art for inspiration, her use of post-painterly formalism is rooted in historical understanding but largely free from its original dogma. 

These works mark an important return to the sensual and visual, accomplished through a cheeky genre-mashing in which the pleasures of the eye trump old-school convention.

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