Meaghan Hyckie is a Toronto based artist whose work has gained significant recognition in recent years. The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Atomic Radiation is her third solo exhibition in Toronto, consisting over 10 individual pieces and her UFOs series. When entering the gallery space, it is hard not to notice that the entire exhibition is formed with vibrant colours. At the same time, the colours are balanced harmoniously with some monochrome drawings in between them, so that the audience do not experience visual frustration when exposed to this overwhelming colour range. Moreover, the monochromatic compositions balance the entire exhibition in a decorative way.
Meaghan Hyckie, The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Atomic Radiation, full installation view. Photo: Sophie Wang
Humans make drawings from the beginning of times in order to make their marks – Hyckie does it for the same reason. She has a rich, highly charged palette and uses the colors in a way that their contrast and the relationship between them has a maximal effect. In “New Build” she applies one-point perspective with a noticeable vanishing point in the center of the work. The suburban block, that builds like the tower of Babel, is depicted with dreamy, rainbow colours, in front of a wall that seemingly created by waves. The waves have a tsunami like movement that can destroy this almost illusionist neighborhood, but suburbia is sheltered – as it should be – by a globe, not unlike a snow globe, and surrounded by a green, protecting aura.
New Build, 2013, coloured pencil crayon on paper, 70.75″ x 49″. Courtesy of Olga Korper Gallery
Hyckie aims to investigate the perception of space, the scales of its composing elements in order to define and articulate the environment she portrays. The series of monochromatic works in the show depict architectural structures. The houses and blocks represent more than simple geometric shapes, as Hyckie pictures her childhood memories of Canadian post-war buildings, honouring Canadian history and culture. The minimal use of lines and dark colours create a futuristic sense.
Left to right: Block-1, 2016; Block-2, 2016 & Endless Access to Everything you Desire, 2016, each: colored pencil crayon on paper, 45″ x 31″. Courtesy of Olga Korper Gallery
Another important part of the exhibition is the UFO series, consisting of 18 small equal sized drawings; that of 15 is displayed here. These compositions follow Hyckie’s artistic style and theme in recent years, combining sensitive drawings of cloud-like motifs and dynamic colours to create abstract forms that remind us of modern technology. Some of the compositions look like photo negatives, and the positive-negative contrast makes them even more scientific looking and challenging.
UFO-59, 2018, coloured pencil crayon on paper, 12.75″ x 16.75″. Courtesy of Olga Korper Gallery
As the title hints these clouds could be easily caused by an atomic bomb, so their elastic beauty deteriorates in front of our eyes and becomes utterly dangerous. Their ambiguity makes the viewer look at them longer and more carefully trying to decipher the soft forms until a deeper, more layered meaning surfaces. It was a good idea to install them into a tableau; the viewers can lose themselves into images of clear lightness of greens and blues disrupted by heavier oranges and reds, finishing with a foreboding dark cloud. As the artist wrote: “In my drawings of clouds, houses and landscapes I deconstruct and visualize space as a way to reflect on environmental, political and personal ideals and anxieties.”
Installation view with UFO series, 2017-2018, each: coloured pencil crayon on paper, 12.75″ x 16.75″. Photo: Sophie Wang
However, in this exhibition, danger is overruled by beauty.
Featured image: UFO-62, 2018, coloured pencil crayon on paper, 12.75″ x 16.75″. Courtesy of Olga Korper Gallery
*Exhibition information: Meaghan Hyckie, The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Atomic Radiation, March 23 – April 21, 2018, Olga Korper Gallery, 17 Morrow Avenue, Toronto. Gallery hours: Tue – Sat, 10 am – 6 pm.