Jacob Robert Whibley at Zalucky Contemporary

Installation view of Jacob Robert Whibley, to kiss the lip of the horizon, 2018. Photo: Iris Wu

to kiss the lip of the horizon, a solo exhibition by Toronto-based artist, Jacob Robert Whibley, displays works with multiple mediums, including sculpture and collage. Largely influenced by Hito Steyerl’s theory outlined in the essay “In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective”, this show challenges the traditional perspective of art (known as the linear perspective) and attempts to provide an irregular and innovative understanding of “perspective” through the disorientation of the horizon. With the introduction of high technologies, such as 3D cinema and Google Maps, people start to embrace different feelings of orientation, and simultaneously, disorientation.

taking a slight, 2018, baltic birch and acrylic paint, 38.5 x 16.5 inches (left) and detail (right). Courtesy of Zalucky Contemporary

Belonging to a series of four metal installations, “taking a slight” represents an hourglass. Looking at it, one may wonder: how can it be associated with the object since nothing seems to be pouring downwards. However, at closer examination, you will be surprised to find a tiny round opening between the two connected triangles, a see-through, modifying our perspective even more. This kindly reminds us of the theme of the exhibition: distorted sense of orientation. Considering the duality of perspective endowed in this work, the linear structure of the hourglass might be just the bare outline of the object, symbolizing the flow of time while the hole in the middle could take us into a different dimension.

tightrope walker, 2018, 38″ steel rod and enamel paint, 60 x 60 x 10.5 inches. Courtesy of Zalucky Contemporary

As you explore further in, at the end of the gallery there is a semi-abstract sculpture composed of steel rod and enamel paint. Titled, “tightrope walker”, this piece recalls the famous movie, The Walk, directed by Robert Zemeckis. The figure, as depicted by Whibley, is holding a pole while trying to balance himself in the midair walking on a tightrope. A moment of suspense is captured, as the figure is just about to lose his balance. The potential failure of his tightrope walking will again result in disorientation. At the same time, the work conveys a sense of humor through its exaggerated gesture and reductive lines.

fughetta, 2018, paper ephemera and flattened pennies on panel, 12 x 9 inches (left)
the orchestra collapses, 2018, paper ephemera and rusted staples on panel, 12 x 9 inches (right). Courtesy of Zalucky Contemporary

In Whibley’s collages the contrast of colors, or the absence of them, carry an appearing visual effect. As proclaimed by modern art historians, collage is a form of art that reflects the disorientation resulted from the pace of modern life, which surprisingly echoes with the theme of the show. Composed of paper ephemera, flattened pennies and rusted staples on panel, “fughetta” and “the orchestra collapses” disintegrate the structure of an orchestra to provide a fresh perspective for viewers to look at the subject. “fughetta” is almost “realistic,” showing the usual setting of an orchestra. It uses a complementary color to emphasize the main motif: the stage is blue, the empty space in front of it is yellow while the musicians’ block is orange. “the orchestra collapses” depicts the chaos of the collapse. How can an orchestra collapse? Is it real or hallucinatory? There is no indication for an answer in the monochromatic abstract forms, besides a stop sign on the top.

secret breaths / shifting graves, 2018, paper ephemera and rusted staples on panel, 12 x 9 inches (left) & pick pocket / smooth quotidian, 2018, paper ephemera and flattened pennies on panel, 12 x 9 inches (right). Courtesy of Zalucky Contemporary

The exhibition seems to play with the idea of distortion, as the works imply the potential disorientation of traditional views by mixing them with the ones that exist in modern society – asking the viewer to contemplate the unpredictable and unexpected that appears on this new horizon.

Iris Wu

*Exhibition information: March 24 – April 21, 2018, Zalucky Contemporary, 3044 Dundas Street West, Toronto. Gallery hours: Wed – Sat 11 – 6 pm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *