When you think of Potpourri – your mind instantly goes to Grandmother's house - it is a potent, distinct smell, which I have never really grown accustomed to but it does bring back some fond memories. What else does Potpourri signify? Essentially, it is a medley of dried petals and old spices mixed together to create a kind of perfume. At the forefront, it is death and decay repurposed into something lyrical and beautiful. Taking something old, disregarded and creating something new. This is exactly the underlying message and process the works of take, currently on view at Clint Roenisch gallery.
Entering the space, we are confronted with studies of flowers reminiscent of Dutch Still Life. These paintings are not singular in their investigation. While touching on Dutch Still Life, Cale takes a more complex approach by mixing practices of abstraction, space and materialism. She does not only evoke historical references such as the symbolic motifs of Still Life but pulls together new perceptions of the materiality of painting and what painting can be.
These works were made during a one year period upheaval of 5 different studios. Cale’s materials are repurposed and recycled.
My Vertigo is a visually stunning large scale work. From afar, it would look nothing more than a pretty bouquet of flowers that maybe heavily influenced by Rachel Ruysch. As you get closer, one sees the tiny folds of commercial packaging. Laborious in its creation, Sarah Cale highlights the artistic process and thus elevates notion of materiality. She wants us not only see the end product but gives importance to the idea, the material and the process.
Cale's work can be described as chaotic and complicated. Alternate Reailty is an ascetically, intricate, collaged work that encapsulates the notion of complexity and chaos. Again, she uses recycled materials such as magazines, books, prints and “second hand brushstrokes” (a term coined by the artist to describe the process of applying paint to a surface, then drying it and trasnferring it onto the linen). Her use of space and abstraction here creates a disjointed subject (unlike My Vertigo). By distorting the subject matter, Cale emphasizes the inherent chaos of our realities – nothing is so simple. Reality and truth are a subjective matter influenced by experiences, ideas, theories, our society etc. Her paintings take new meanings as we the viewer imput our own realities and experiences onto these canvases. By blending these together, Cale emphasizes the beauty of chaos.
Sarah Cale’s exhibition “Potpourri” runs until February 24th - it’s a must see!