CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA: Vanessa Brown Esker Foundation

By Hanna, Maeve | Sculpture, December 2018 | Go to article overview

CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA: Vanessa Brown Esker Foundation


Hanna, Maeve, Sculpture


Purple, pastel blues, greens, pinks, and iridescent white inhabit the works in Vanessa Brown's recent exhibition "The Witching Hour." Brown presents a synthesis of delicacy and brute strength, demonstrating a fine balance between feminist aesthetics and traditional sculpture. Her work exemplifies a feminized practice epitomized through steel, a material associated with industry, "male" sculpture, and warfare.

"The Witching Hour" was at once a dreamscape, a jewelry store, and a wonderland of opulence and mystery. A boudoir scene greeted viewers on entering the gallery. An oversize clock frowned over the scene, winking away the time; two sheer kimonos made from mesh fabric hung from steel frames; and delicate earrings made of glass and steel, sized for a giant, dangled from a frame, while another pair rested on the floor. Two oversize ashtrays, one with cigarette in place, completed the tableau. Hanging nearby, a large tablet etched with symbols spelled out a mystifying dream sequence in a language understood only by the artist. Macro versus micro played into this mise en scene, with intimate, small-scale objects blown up in scale. This deliberate shift transported viewers across a threshold into a world where personal moments are reimagined as a psychic escape from reality.

Leaving the boudoir, which was titled Late Night Trip to the Jeweller's, viewers entered a gallery that doubled as a virtual jewelry shop. Here, Brown scaled down her work, unveiling another aspect of her practice. Smaller sculptures in pearlescent hues, resembling vases and centerpieces, sat on plinths. Rods strewn with various sculptures punctuated the space, offering Brown's version of charm bracelets. …

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