Not too High, Not that low
Division Gallery is pleased to present Not Too High, Not That Low, a group exhibition featuring works by Tammi Campbell, Myriam Dion, Bea Fremderman, Eleanor King, Wanda Koop, Brittany Shepherd and Angela Teng (courtesy of Equinox Gallery, Vancouver). The seven exhibiting artists present varied material and theoretical considerations of balance and barriers through the manipulation of surface. In this exhibition, the exploration of surface unveils a dual, conflicting purpose — acting as both a container for illusionistic space and an obstruction that rejects the appearance of depth. Here, surface and materials are used as content, not simply as the vessel to convey a message. Not Too High, Not That Low further points to the various themes explored in this exhibition: taste, class, consumption, as well as mobility, repetition, and the construction of composition.
These seven artists use their chosen media in unexpected ways, reshaping our perception of art, news and the body by defying our understanding of the way familiar materials and techniques are used.
Challenging the traditional process of painting, Angela Teng performs an unlikely form of weaving in which paint, rather than being applied to a support, becomes a support unto itself. Teng crotchets pre-prepared acrylic into wool-like surfaces that evoke both hard-edge abstraction - a traditionally male language - and textile work - a traditionally female one.
Myriam Dion cuts and interleaves newspaper pages and Japanese paper in a genre-defying hybrid of weaving and collage. Created in the context of our media-saturated, post-truth era, her hypnotic tapestries reframe news not with a political agenda, but to place greater emphasis on the human element inherent in world events. The piece in this exhibition is Myriam’s first to indulge in fake news, her swirling, ornamental vegetation perfectly camouflaging the improbability of a New York Times piece about a fallen unicorn.
Brittany Shepherd’s delicate sculptures examine how physical material is transformed by the social purpose it serves. Evoking domestic and public spaces, Shepherd’s polyurethane gloves suggest either frumpy dishwashing tools or the evening-wear of an elegant socialite. Eleanor King’s bathing suits, cast in paint using roller trays, are similarly ambiguous, poised between sleek swimwear and studio labour. In both instances, a single, deceptively simple material resonates with a litany of associations, implying the many roles an object, or a body, can assume.
Vaporous and intangible, Wanda Koop’s Still series suggest fine mists of prismatic light. Koop has managed watercolour-like gradients using acrylic paint, showing us what we come to learn are brilliant skyscrapers iridescing in a rainbow of delicate hues. The ambiguity of her materials, and her destabilizing use of negative space convey the wonder of these grand buildings, reframing them not as impersonal monoliths, but as beacons of technology and progress.
Like Koop’s skyscrapers, Tammi Campbell’s subject hides in plain sight. That subject is paint - its history, its versatility and its fragility as it is pushed into new, unexpected forms. Campbell has fashioned cardboard, tape and bubble wrap out of acrylic paint in an elaborate trompe l’oeil. What are, on the one hand, high realism reproductions of plastic and paper on canvas, are also ersatz ready-mades - elaborate sculptures posing as bland packaging. As such, the paint references in equal measure the Modernist zip paintings of Barnett Newman, the appropriation of Marcel Duchamp, and the behind-the-scenes packing, shipping and storage that constitutes the lifespan of any artwork.
A poetic consideration of surface, Bea Fremderman synthesizes the organic and the inorganic into unique sculptures of consumption, excess and desire. Familiar in form, these fruits have a dual nature - the wonted apple imbues a sense of knowing - while the foam core bite suggests unknown material currents that go wayward.
In bringing together works representative of a wide range of medias, Not Too High, Not That Low explores the ways in which these seven artists have revelled in the materiality of their chosen mediums. In each case, their mastery of the medium is integral to the investigation of their subject.