"Persian Rose Chartreuse Muse Vancouver Grey"

By Szewczyk, Monika | Artforum International, Summer 2014 | Go to article overview

"Persian Rose Chartreuse Muse Vancouver Grey"


Szewczyk, Monika, Artforum International


What does it mean for works of art totalk to one another? How did "Persian Rose Chartreuse Muse Vancouver Grey," curated by the artist Mina Totino, achieve the sense of a conversation--or, more precisely, several intimate and casually intermingling exchanges--that might arise at an informal gathering, probably in a garden, sometime in spring? This may sound frivolous, but stay with me. Imagine going to a party where each guest is so adept at communicating that only a few words are ever needed. The rest is gesture--that wordless language Giorgio Agamben found to be, by the end of the nineteenth century, "irretrievably lost" to the Western bourgeoisie. As technologies of reproduction developed, Agamben argued, the neurotic recording and subsequent overanalysis of gesture compromised its ease, its liveliness. Totino's exhibition gathered more than rhirty silently eloquent "guests"--largely paintings--that seem to recuperate this lost gestural mode. Indeed, it is testimony to the strength of the nine participating artists that each of their works emerged as a fully fledged persona. No snobs (too self-conscious about their status), no nerds (calculating each move), and no souares (in either sense of the term).

Torino eschewed a singular argument about painting; instead, her organizational logic centered around connecting dots among a group of practitioners who have encountered one another in various ways. Elizabeth McIntosh and Silke Otto-Knapp studied together at the Chelsea College of Arts in London, and Otto-Knapp introduced Tomma Abts to McIntosh, who met Torino when she moved to Vancouver. Totino and McIntosh both teach at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, where they met Aaron Carter, Monique Mouton, and Rachel le Sawatsky--former students who have become colleagues. Raoul De Keyser, Mary Heilmann, and Bernard Frize serve as important figures of reference here, as Totino describes them as having "removed the quotation marks that held painting in a confining endgame." Obliquely tracing lines of influence, Totino encouraged gestures from distinct geographies and generations and across materials and processes to forge alliances and dialectics. …

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