It isn’t the most obvious theme, that’s for sure.
Until May 2, Articule is presenting a group show entitled Psychic Sublimation, bringing together the work of emerging artists Valérie Lamontagne, Christian Kuras and Duncan MacKenzie. The binding element is purportedly each artist’s respective manipulation of the notion of subject.
Lamontagne’s Becoming Balthus series, already exhibited in Banff and Peterborough, is the most at home in the show, thematically speaking. Her large-scale digital printouts warp existing paintings by Balthus through photographic superimposition. Turn-of-the-century French painter Balthus was known for his sexualized, romanticized portraiture of women. Lamontagne very bluntly appropriates his work by injecting her own sense of femaleness, her own version of his subjects, into his paintings. It’s a classical case of feminist cultural repossession.
Slightly further from the concept is the cerebral, sophisticated work of Kuras, whose statement in The Control Room addresses something like the inhuman nature of notions of progress and excellence depicted in 1930s science-fiction movies. His aesthetic is minimal and quirky, pleasing in an alienating sort of way. In that sense, the subject-as-gallery-goer feels disjointed, out of place – an interesting form of sublimation.
And then there is the work of MacKenzie. His approach is less clear, both in its relation to issues of subjectivity as well as its independent raison d’être. Comprised of large photographs of blown-up miniature dioramas – forests and mountain ranges made of dough and dyed icing sugar, from what one can tell – as well as a video of scenarios involving similar dioramas, his works seem groundless compared to the others. The photographic paper bubbling off their lamination support is confusing, an unwanted effect at first interpreted as intentional – how does it all relate to the sublimation of subjecthood? Does it rest on the idea of scale? To be honest, the relationship is too weak to warrant much investigation.
Psychic Sublimation, at Articule until May 2