Lionel Stevenson, Erratic #4, 1999, digital print on paper. Purchased, 2012
In the Balance
This exhibition highlights objects from the collection that generate a tension between formal control and the innate shaping properties of the materials of art—their density, structure, colour and texture. These works focus more on internal dynamics than they do on recognizable content—the relationship between an idea, figure or process and the consistency of its “support,” whether beeswax, whalebone, acrylic paint or Masonite. Focusing primarily on ostensibly formal issues these works actually reveal in their structure a resistance to persistent myths with social and ecological implications—the autonomy of the artistic statement, and the elevation of the artist to the status of a commanding, godlike shaper of inert material. In these works, artists confront a problem—the necessity of making a gesture that is at the same time receptive to the impact of other forces. The works ultimately oscillate between presenting a unifying solution and a disharmony that pulls them apart, opening them to the larger world.