Tuesday, February 24, 2015

David Kaarsemaker at Gallery St. Laurent + Hill in Ottawa

In The Fragile Surface, an exhibition of recent work at Gallery St. Laurent + Hill, David Kaarsemaker adds to the dialogue between painting and photography. His pictures are surely about painting, representational while verging on abstraction, the canvasses rendered diaphanous through the application of colour and thinly layered images. They are also about photography in that they construct images that appear to be accurate depictions of the visible world while being faithful to the way that lens-based analogues can be blurred and out of focus. More directly, photographs are partly the subject of the paintings. The processes by which the works are made generate their dramatic interest, and though fully on view, as in the painting Cross-Section 1, they add to their mystery by bordering on the metaphysical. Inasmuch as paintings and photographs are about memory through their commemoration of people and places, Kaarsemaker’s process engages with space and architecture not unlike the “method of loci” of the immemorial rhetoricians.

David Kaarsemaker, Cross-Section 1, 2015, oil and charcoal on canvas 

The trick that memory plays transforms the spaces we remember over time. And just as these spaces are subject to change, so too are paintings, photographs, and people. Kaarsemaker’s biography reveals a peripatetic life, traversing the US, Burkina Faso, and many places in Canada, where the artist now makes a home in the Ottawa area. Kaarsemaker’s paintings are mobile in the manner of today’s digital technology. His paintings, such as Cross-Section 4, evoke the inner glow of networked flat screen monitors and equally ubiquitous hand-held tablets and phones. The paintings share the uprooted quality of a digital image that can be anywhere at any time, connected simultaneously to a global, dispersed social network, always at hand but ironically untouchable.

The complete text of my review of the exhibition was published here on the February 24 Akimblog. It is my last Akimblog post, as Akimbo will cease publishing reviews from its Ontario regional correspondents in March 2015.

No comments:

Post a Comment