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Susy Oliveira: Back to the Garden

Modern Fuel, Kingston Mar 26 to Apr 23 2011
Susy Oliveira <em>Centre of your world</em> 2009 Susy Oliveira Centre of your world 2009

Susy Oliveira <em>Centre of your world</em> 2009

Though winter weather is stubbornly overstaying its welcome in many parts of Canada, spring is in full bloom at Kingston’s Modern Fuel. The artist-run centre is hosting “Your face, like a lone nocturnal garden in Worlds where Suns spin round!,” Susy Oliveira's travelling exhibition of collage-sculpture that reflects broadly on themes of nature and the garden. With the show’s recent stops in Waterloo, Halifax, Winnipeg and Calgary—not to mention the inclusion of Oliveira’s foldout piece We Know How to Make Life Go On in the November/December issue of the Believer—the Toronto-based artist has become celebrated for her contemporary take on cubism, in which she mashes up three-dimensional sculptural realities and two-dimensional picture planes. The works on view in Kingston use this method to distort natural subjects including flowers, grass, twigs and turf. Centre of your world, for example, turns a flat photograph of a forest floor into a wall-mounted landscape with advancing and retreating surfaces. It might remind one of a schematic or a topographical map, and consequently of our desire to order and tame the natural world. Time keeps goes a step further, presenting a minimal sculpture of the grass archetype: a bright green array of rigid, straight, triangular blades. This work’s artificial, cartoonish quality can be read as critical of the pesticide-laden perfection that many strive for in their lawns and yards. It’s also an extreme example of Oliveira’s geometric aesthetic, which takes its cue from virtual reality and video games. Seeing such objects in the round could prove disillusioning, as it challenges our devotion to manufactured fantasies. But it also promises, at the same time, substantial visual delights. (21A Queen St, Kingston ON)

This article was first published online on March 31, 2011.

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