Absence Inhabited part 2

The represented objects all appear to hold a patina or residue of life, yet all the objects presented are inanimate lifeless forms.

By Alberta Foundation for the Arts

Alberta Foundation for the Arts

Tendencies To Exist (1988) by Darci MallonAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Introduction to part 2

The three parts of this exhibition represent 29 artworks by 27 Alberta artists. These artists all highlight unique perspectives on object-hood and have contributed to a rich survey of domestically-situated artworks. These works bring into focus notions of intimate home spaces within a continually growing and interconnected relational world.

Darci Mallon’s Tendencies to Exist was part of a series entitled Quiet Acts which included seven individual works plus a poem silk-screened onto the floor. Each piece in this series involved a pair of black chairs with tapered legs, between which an unattached steel element was keeping them together, and at the same time, apart.

Riding on a theme of fine balance, this piece speaks structurally about gravitational balance, but also implies, metaphorically, a balance between two people who have entered into some form of interpersonal relationship.

According to one of Mallon’s artist statements from this time in her career, she was always interested in the construction of identity – what conditions contribute to how we define ourselves and who we think we are. This particular sculpture definitely seems to invite curiosity into the ways our environment and interpersonal relationships might shape us both individually and collectively.

Scavenger And Forager (2007) by Walter MayAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Walter May’s working process during this time in his career was described as always beginning with a found material or object that he might have recognized as “mysterious, elegant or poetic”. Collected items could originate in the city or the country, from industry, nature, or from the domestic.

Whatever their history or origin, they passed through May’s studio and eventually ended up as sculptures or installations with intentionality and resolve. In this particular work, the two opposing chairs speak of duality, partnership, or difference.

There seems an inherent theme of exploring the crossover of counterparts – such as those present in the distinctions between functional and non-functional, or industrial and natural.

Chesterfield, Uncovered by Arlene StampAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Arlene Stamp recalls her mother decorating their family home in detailed, unusual ways. In a statement made by the artist, she discusses how her mother would, “buy wallpaper, cut out the roses and stick them on the ceiling.”

At this point in her career, Stamp most often painted interiors and their furnishings, rather than people. With these sorts of domestic memories holding importance and prominence for Stamp, her work often revolved around similar domestic themes.

This piece Chesterfield, Uncovered, with an outreaching appendage of a palm leaf coming in from the side seems to speak towards a longing or a desire for comfort and presence within the space. An empty couch almost always beckons as a place of comfort, doesn’t it?

Basement Suite (1985) by John BrockeAlberta Foundation for the Arts

John Brocke is said to be one of the most accomplished practitioners of young, realist painters that evolved in the nineteen-eighties. Brock received much attention for his highly detailed domestic paintings before his life came to a tragic end due to a car accident at the age of 55. During his short career, he managed to complete a very small number of works because of the detailed and painstaking nature of his working method.

A painting would generally take months to complete, and as a consequence his surviving paintings are appreciated for their rarity as well as for their realistic quality. This extreme attention to detail in his paintings creates a liveliness even in a view of an uninhabited room.

In this particular work, the left chair covering has a very ghost like quality to it, and the compositional framing of the painting places importance on the furniture - their positioning and their implied usage as objects for living and relating to one another.

Untitled (Desk) (1983/1984) by Ray ArnattAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Ray Arnatt often said, “What artists do is self-portraiture.” This particular work is not a self-portrait in the direct sense of the definition, not a photographic representation or composition of a person but it could be said to be a self-portrait in that furniture and the things that surround us in our dwelling spaces are reflections of our psyche, personality, and history.

Ray Arnatt was said to be a passionate, dedicated instructor and researcher, and was inspired in his own artistic practice by philosophy, quantum physics, and his own children’s artwork.

He continued teaching and creating art until his death in 2004.

A Room With A View by Evelyn GrantAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Grant’s work during this time in her career began to shift from functional wares to more detailed architectural forms. She began to introduce pieces that were more narrative rather than useable crafted dishware which she had previously been making.

In A Room with a View, the chair and the binoculars, while positioned as unmoving objects, still present a narrative of “neighbor spying”.

It invites discussion around the idea that the social construct of the home and of neighborhood is continuously influenced by interpersonal comparison, and voyeurism.

Credits: Story

Absence Inhabited
Curated by Ashley Slemming
2017 Emerging Curator Fellow

This exhibition represents 29 artworks by 27 Alberta artists:

Barbara Amos
Ray Arnatt
Martin Bennett
John Brocke
Janet E. Brown
Elizabeth Clark
April Dean
Diana Edwards
K. Gwen Frank
Evelyn Grant
John Hall
Douglas Jones
Lylian Klimek
William Laing
Glen Mackinnon
Darci Mallon
Walter May
Lesley Menzies
Pamela Norrish
Jim Picco
Susan Robbins
Mel Rosa
Kate Schutz
Marc Siegner
Bill Simpkins
Arlene Stamp
Terry Winter

These artists all highlight unique perspectives on object-hood and have contributed to a rich survey of domestically-situated artworks. These works bring into focus notions of intimate home spaces within a continually growing and interconnected relational world.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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