18 March – 7 May, 2000
in Gairloch Gardens and at Centennial Square
Curated by Diana Nemiroff
Organized and circulated by The National Gallery of Canada
Oakville Galleries presents Odd Bodies, a selection of works from the National Gallery’s permanent collection of modern and contemporary art and photography. Diana Nemiroff, the National Gallery’s Curator of Contemporary Art, surveys the gallery’s collection of twentieth century art, choosing works from over twenty nationally and internationally renowned artists. Nemiroff brings together ‘figurative’ work from Modern artists, such as Pablo Picasso and Otto Dix, with more recent works by Betty Goodwin, Jana Sterbak and General Idea. The varied representations of the human form in Odd Bodies deviate from ideal depictions of the body found in traditional and popular imagery. They reconfigure the body through distortion and fragmentation, redrawing a vulnerable and at times freakish body. The works transform, mutate, segment and turn the body inside out as if to put it under scientific scrutiny. They dissect the body in order to reconsider conventional ideals and expose contemporary fears and anxieties. The process of representation, namely in terms of art, often conceals the body’s vulnerabilities, smoothing over blemishes, erasing lines and ignoring scars. Instead of rendering the ideal body, where conventions are used to promote sameness, the works in Odd Bodies depict marred surfaces and seeming imperfections. They celebrate the peculiar, the unfamiliar and the vulnerable, thus isolating and defining idiosyncrasies. Here differences are privileged.
Artists have used repetition and sequential forms over and over again throughout time. Today, yet another generation of artists are repeating forms and working in multiples and grids. In this exhibition, Curator Marnie Fleming draws our attention to the renewed significance of seriality and repetition for several contemporary artists whose work is represented in Oakville Galleries’ Permanent Collection. We are reminded that minimalist sculptor Donald Judd, writing in 1964 from the point of view of a different generation, explained that for those artists exploring strategies of repetition and ordering, “the order is not rationalistic and underlying, but is simply order, like that of continuity, one thing after another.” At that time for Judd and others, an ordering system had value in and of itself. In contrast to this modernist legacy, the exhibited works display a difference that springs from contemporary artistic concern with imagery, context and narrative, while also folding in an allegiance to the powerful system of sequence, the grid and geometry. Viewed in this light, works by Canadian artists such as Stephen Andrews, Sylvie Bélanger, Magdalen Celestino, Aganetha Dyck, Micah Lexier, Sandra Rechico and Jeannie Thib are brought together in a valuable commentary on influence and renewal in the art of our time.
Exhibition booklet available.