Nadia Myre’s Desire Schematics series uses beadwork to make social comment.
MATHIEU GAUDET, NADIA MYRE AND MARTHA TOWNSEND at Birch Libralato (129 Tecumseth), to August 25. 416-365-3003. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Three Montreal-based artists imbue pristine, post-minimalist works with a surprising depth of meaning that's enriched by grouping them together at Birch Libralato.
References to domesticity emerge in Martha Townsend's Cooking Place (inspired by cooking pits in ancient Ireland), a trio of large, perfectly round and flat slate discs each supported on three bun-shaped rocks, and the wall-mounted Horison, two divided discs made of wood, slate and mirror. Her perfect circles and spheres add tension and mystery to minimalist geometry.
Sharing the room with Townsend's Cooking Place, Mathieu Gaudet's works exploring the idea of the horizon line also rely on the power of threes.
On three canvases hung askew, a black "ground" forms a consistent horizon where it meets the white "sky." Three vertical wooden beams leaning against the wall at different angles are painted red up to a unifying eye-level horizon line. Gaudet also carves horizontal wooden beams into "landscapes" of rolling hills topped by coloured acrylic.
Anishinaabe artist Nadia Myre, who's used beadwork to comment on the Indian Act and mining company logos, here shows more enigmatic work from her Desire Schematics series.
Two vitrines hold tiny rectangles woven with pink geometric designs on a background of white seed beads. Crosses seem to evoke obscure Christian iconography, but they're actually scientific or engineering symbols gleaned from a 1960s technical manual.
A series of photographic prints greatly enlarge details of Myre's beadwork, obliterating their identity as meticulously crafted handiwork and transforming them into grid-like modernist abstractions. Among other themes, she probes the collision of tradition and modernity and beads' historic role in the economics of colonization.
Clean lines and shapes, cool-to-the-touch materials like glass and stone, and layers of content give the show a quiet, meditative feel that offers a respite from the noise and heat of August in Toronto.