Jessica Stockholder’s Fish makes a dance out of the figure-ground relationship.
JESSICA STOCKHOLDER at Barbara Edwards Contemporary (1069 Bathurst), to June 8. 647-348-5110. Rating: NNNN
For Jessica Stockholder, play is serious business.
As a sculptor, she's a pre-eminent proponent of a looser, renegade formalism, her rigorous sensibility always tempered by an irrepressible sense of fun. Combined found objects speak to one another through an inventive syntax of eye-popping pastels.
Stockholder's works on paper at Barbara Edwards echo the concerns she's addressed in the larger three-dimensional work that gained the Seattle-born, New Haven-based artist an international reputation as a sculptor of big, colourful, kinetically charged site-specific installations: the juxtaposition and meeting point of sculpture and painting, the relentless play to be found in form, and her deep love of colour.
Working on a smaller scale is obviously no problem for her, and Stockholder excels at turning the figure-ground relationship into a dance. In Fish, an abstract piscine head and tail float over scraps of torn newspaper and a pale red rectangle. This figuration, only teasingly suggested, somehow conveys the sense of a living form wriggling upwards.
Other pieces read like sketches or studies of the potentialities of line and colour. Tight Rope balances a bright green slash atop a soft smear of pink, both forms floating against a background nest of receding blue lines. The lines add resonance to the green slash, itself a balancing act that lends credence to the work's title.
Stockholder's virtuosity can seem deceptively casual, her use of colour sassy in its brilliance. But the moments of sheer visual joy she wrests from simple elements show that she's far from flippant.