KUDOS VII at the Canadian Sculpture Centre

The Canadian Sculpture Centre started the New Year with the launching of their KUDOS VII exhibition on January 23. The show was primarily organized as an expression of gratitude to the patrons, volunteers and artists of the Sculptors Society of Canada and celebrates the generous support, dedication, and commitment of the SSC’s executive board, volunteers and the Greenrock Charitable Trust during these challenging times. Hence the title ‘kudos’ — which according to the Oxford Dictionary — is the Greek term for ‘praise’.

Continuing their longstanding KUDOS series, the Canadian Sculpture Centre brings this latest group exhibition showcasing the work of the Sculptors Society’s membership. The content is not defined by any overarching theme, but rather celebrates the multi-faceted interests and talents that the individual artists possess.

Installation view with works by (L-R): Marc André J. Fortier, Karen Stoskopf Harding and Camie Geary-Martin (2 sculptures)

Everyone is complaining about difficult times now as we are still in lockdown because of COVID-19. For art lovers, like myself, it is a nightmare since all the museums and galleries are closed. Accepting the challenge of this hardship, some of the artists addressed the pandemic and its outcomes directly. I found Janine Lindgren’s pieces especially expressive of our feelings. Stop the Spread depicts two aspects of this pandemic: the effort of trying to stop it and waiting for a vaccine. A woman captured and tiptoeing in a laboratory tube holder reaches out to catch the virus, embodied as a red balloon flying tethered with a red cord to a laboratory flask that contains contaminated blood. A heroic intention indeed. There are many more glass tubes in the holder that also suggest more testing — and our hope for a vaccine.

Janine Lindgren, Quarantine Struggle (left) and Stop the Spread (right), both bronze, mixed-media

Lindgren’s Quarantine Struggle is a very dramatic composition. It depicts the lockdown literally as a woman is caged in a glass container, completely isolated from the outside world. She desperately tries to break free from her chokingly small and boring surroundings — but it seems that the walls won’t yield. I think we have all had similar feelings throughout this year of COVID-19 lockdowns. This work successfully depicts the conflict between the natural world outside and the unnatural world inside the cage.

Judi Michelle Young’s Soul by Track was originally created as one segment in a visual narration of Canada’s “iron road” family, a sad part of the past. But looking at the skull one can’t help but associate it with the many deaths from COVID-19 and remember that in Italy, for example, they had to bury the dead in mass graves. Their families won’t even have a grave to go to and remember their loved ones.

Judi Michelle Young, Soul by Tracks, mixed-media (anodized aluminum veil, waxed skull, cedar wood)

Peter Wirün’s, A Black Hole Analysis Imager, was intended to reimagine “black holes” — that very interesting phenomenon that is mainly unknown. The artist’s ‘novel idea’ is that the Big Bang created parallel universes. Recent research suggests that “black matter” is actually much larger than the “light matter” we know more about. However, looking into that bottomless hole, one associates it with the “dark” days we have been experiencing for far too long a time; the fear of the unknown.

Peter Wirün, A Black Hole Analysis Imager, stainless steel, rust paint, ceramic

Whenever humans face hard times, hope is always there; as Gerhard Richter pointed out, “Art is the highest form of hope.” César Forero’s work, The Red Clover and The World illustrates Richter’s quote perfectly. A small figure hugs a gigantic red clover. As the artist explained: “4-leaf clovers generally symbolize ‘luck’; my ‘red’ — represents love & awareness — an optimistic view in difficult times.”

César Forero, The Red Clover and The World, ceramic

Marlene Kawalez in her work, Together, shows that no matter what challenges we face, we maintain our connection to loved ones. Even when family members seem to be separated by dividers, they still find support and happiness in their bond to each other.

Installation view with Marlene Kawalez, Together, fired clay (front right)

Installation view with works by Won Lee (left) and Barbara Fletcher (right)

It is very unfortunate that we can’t visit the gallery to enjoy this exhibition in person. Sculpture is a 3D artform where spacing plays an important part. But even if we can’t walk around them, the exhibited pieces still deserve our attention, so please check them out online.

Emese Krunák-Hajagos

Images are courtesy of the Canadian Sculpture Centre

*Exhibition information: KUDOS VII, January 23 – February 27, 2021, Canadian Sculpture Centre, 19 Mill Street, The Distillery District. An online group show featuring: John Clinton • Barbara Fletcher • César Forero • Marc André J. Fortier • Camie Geary-Martin • Karen Stoskopf Harding • Saulius Jaskus • Marlene Kawalez • Won Lee • Janine Lindgren • J. Mac • Bastien Martel • Dina Torrans • Peter Wirün • Judi Michelle Young

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