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Into Shards, Crude Stars

Sarah Cale, Into Shards, Crude Stars (detail), 2015,
adhered linen, oil and acrylic on canvas, 198.12 x 182.88 cm.
Photo: Robert McNair

Sarah Cale: Instants passing through the air I breathe Exhibit

January 23 - May 8, 2016

Location:  Varley Art Gallery
216 Main Street Unionville (at Carlton Road) map 

Linen shards float upon a pink celestial void. Repeatedly, these fragments are pushed and pulled by the gravity of the nebulous plane upon which they lie. Subtle layers of colour — yellows and whites — surround and define each piece of material, giving them weight within this raw environment. Sarah Cale combines aspects of painting and collage to create colourful and intricate artworks. On one hand, her paintings are the result of a meticulous process that exploits the physicalities of her medium, while on the other, they are poetic musings on the creative process itself.

Cale’s work stems from a desire to move beyond conventional forms of abstraction. For this reason there is a large degree of experimentation and spontaneous creation in her process. This exploration is evident in the aesthetics of each work, for example, how certain pieces are created using “second-hand” brushstrokes. In some early pieces, acrylic paint is applied first to a plastic surface and once dried, peeled off and glued onto to a canvas or linen support. Paintings, such as The Looming (2014), may seem initially to have been inspired by the gestural works of early modernist abstract painters, yet, Cale’s calculated approach to questions of materiality and gesture results in complex canvases that challenge the preconceptions of her viewers. In these works Cale’s brushstrokes are not, in fact, splashes of paint, but layers of colour carefully and systematically glued down to create the illusion of spontaneity. The artist’s process is also impelled by a desire to expand the notion of mark marking. When assembled side by side, acrylic “marks” of various shapes and sizes create depth and dimension within an otherwise flat field. Smaller marks recede, while larger ones ascend to the surface. As seen in Cuts Fall (2013), these collaged elements also create a patterning effect, bringing a distinctive visual style to Cale’s work.

In Ask Me Anything (2015) and Broke Down Portal (2015), Cale breaks from the confines of her canvases and reaches beyond the edge of the painted frame. Strips of canvas or unraveling linen hang down toward the gallery floor and into the realm of sculptural intervention. While these elements are visually striking, not all of Cale’s collage elements are as immediately apparent. More recently, older paintings have been recycled as fodder for new works, cut-up and grafted onto another surface. Despite mutilation, the cut-up remnants have received a new life on a new skin and often dictate the direction that the added-to paintings will take. Some of the cut-up pieces of canvas applied to the surface are left bare, while others become embedded within previously painted surfaces. In Awkward Ritual (2015), layers of paint and collaged material create complicated relationships within each plane, often requiring the viewer to take a second look in order to understand how an effect has been produced. These various processes prompt us to contemplate the artist’s techniques and how a specific work was created.

The title of the exhibition is derived from the prose of Clarice Lispector, whose novel, Água Viva is conceptual and non-narrative in nature. What attracts Cale to Lispector’s work is its innovative formal qualities, its stream of consciousness, its deconstructive mediation on life and time. Both artists create work that is always evolving and that seemingly exists within a never-ending continuum. In this place, there is no pressure to create in a linear fashion and words (or paintings), can exist in the past, the present or the future. The title of one of Cale’s most recent paintings, Muscle Memory (2015), hints at this idea. The artist is free to move back and forth, like a breath, pausing only to contemplate her individual experience. As an attempt to go deeper into her own artistic process, Cale has created a body of work that is an extension of herself, and integrated into her everyday life.

- Anik Glaude, Curator

Sarah Cale received a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and an MFA from the University of Guelph. In 2009 and 2010 she was shortlisted for the RBC Canadian Painting Competition and has been awarded numerous grants and residencies. Her work has been included in recent solo and group exhibitions at Galerie de l’UQAM, Montréal (2013), Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton (2014), Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Fredericton (2014), Jessica Bradley Gallery, Toronto (2015) and Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener-Waterloo (2015). Sarah Cale is represented by Clint Roenisch Gallery, Toronto. The artist would like to thank the Toronto Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

Opening Reception
Sunday, January 31 | 2 - 4 p.m. | Free
Catering generously sponsored by Whole Foods Market Unionville

Exhibition Related Programming

Artist Talk with Sarah Cale
Sunday, January 31 | 1 - 2 p.m. | Free
Join us and exhibition artist, Sarah Cale, for talk about her practices and pieces for Instants passing through the air I breathe
Co-presented with the Markham Group of Artists

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