The great thing about art is, it can take two opposing ideas or contradictions and meld them into something new. It can imagine something unthinkable and make it possible. This was the overshadowing feeling I got when wandering through the large scale, "celestial" paintings of influential Canadian painter, Paterson Ewen at Olga Korper Gallery.
Entering the Korper space, you are first struck by the sheer lightness of these weighty, large scale paintings. Massive in size, they incorporate materials such as wires, rocks, granite, marble to echo the materiality of the vast universe we inhabit. Paterson always having a deep interest in the cosmic world was greatly influenced by this and used it throughout his subject matter. Running through this series, we can see interpretations of the sky, stars, galaxy and milky way. Dense, weighty and encompassing - yet here, Paterson is able to poetically create a contradiction of lightness. The paintings seem as though they are floating effortlessly within the space, as Matisse or Miro might. The bright vibrant colours float on the canvas and bring a sense of optimism - that regardless how insignificant and small we might be in this universe - that it does not negate our presence or spiritual tie to this realm.
The playfulness between space and artwork is also something worth noting. Originally an iron foundry, (later a bomb and Matress factory) Olga Korper Gallery is, again, heavy with its industrial influence (steel bars, doors and exposed ceiling). But it is the exposed ceiling that allows the light to shine in and create a kind of "spiritual" altarpiece for experiencing these abstract works. A dialogue between space and object ensues. The natural light again mirrors the lightness of the paintings thus create a sublime, ephemeral feel to the whole experience.
The motif of the circles plays to the sublime, ephemeral presence of all these paintings. Art historically, a circle can represent eternity or a sense of wholeness - we see Bosch use circles within his painting to articulate symbolically the wholeness of life - birth to death. I believe in this context (the context of abstraction) the circles tie Paterson's astrological interest and his sense of spirituality. These bright orange and pink circles float behind the weighty materials and manage to uplift and create a"religious" experience.
The experience of walking through this exhibition is a sense of awe and grandeur. Definitely worth seeing while the show is still up! (up until July 15, 2017)