By Bobinec, Greg on December 9, 2019.
The Southern Alberta Art Gallery has unveiled two new main exhibits in their gallery that manipulate materials to give them a new life, and take on new heights and demensions to give viewers a new perspective.
The first exhibition is by Colombian Indigenous woman Delcy Morelos who presented Mother’s Surface, curated by guest curator Mariangela MŽndez Prencke. Mother’s Surface spans dozens of feet throughout the main gallery at SAAG, exposes the colour, richness and potency of soil as a painting material.
“Delcy is a painter, she has been painting for 30 years in large format, and over the last decade she expanded her large format paintings to the space, so she started working architecturally in a way, but she also shifted from using colour and instead chose soil as the material, because it is material and colour at the same time, so this is a cultural paint,” says MŽndez Prencke.
“Her use of soil as the source of her painting and her work has many sides and that is because she is interested in soil as a living thing, she is interested in recuperating and bringing back the importance of soil into our western mind, because we have forgotten that we are a part of it, we need it, we cannot keep exploiting, damaging, poisoning it or excavating it.”
In recent installations, Morelos has worked with soil in soliciting its material properties, blending other materials like cocoa and corn to the fertile matter. The use of soil signifies as a return to the roots to understand soil as one extensive organism.
Explaining her use of the material, Morelos says “I am living earth, creative, fertile, vital. Soil is the origin, the base, the common ground; ancestral and revered since it is a fundamental principle of our exchange with life. The soil is the skin of the earth; when it is stripped of its vegetative layer, the landscape looks naked, bare. It shows its colour.”
“This is like an altar, a piece that does an homage to soil, she wants as a visitor to be closer to soil, you get to see it, smell it, and to walk around because it forces you to walk around, it isn’t something that you can see in the blink of an eye, so her idea is that you think and reflect about it,” says MŽndez Prencke.
“A constant in her work has been skin colour and how you embrace some skin colours and reject others, also how darker skin colours have been subjected to racism, because she comes from an Indigenous community in Colombia, so she has to work a lot with that, and the soil is the skin of the earth, when it’s bare, the soil colour or skin colour is shown.”
The second exhibition unveiled Saturday evening was Eidetic Tides, by Laurie Kang, a Toronto-based artist. Kang’s entropic, deconstructed photography instillations provide an embodied experience of how eidetic imagery can be carried with us. Using large sheets of photo film, Kang exposed the light sensitive material to light, imprinting the images surrounding the film onto it.
“What you encounter when you come into the space is permeable wall structure that is also a hybrid between support, sculpture, instillation and architectural intervention.
“There is skin with these unfixed, continually sensitive sheets of film that are translucent, so light passes through, and they will continue to shift in this environment,” says Kang.
“My practice is really interested in continual sensitivity, and unfixable as a state of being, and especially in relation to the body and the materials, although they are industrial, some of the colours evoke things like blood, marrow or flesh, so they have a relationship to the body even though they are less organic and more industrial.”
Both of the new exhibits at SAAG present themes of human relativity, using materials that relate to skin, flesh, bones, and human action and reflection. Mother’s Surface by Delcy Morelos, and Eidetic Tides by Laurie Kang, will be on display at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery until February. For more information on these new installations and other programs, visit saag.ca.
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