Jessica Stockholder

Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver
September 19 - October 10

#252 (1995), photographs

Jessica Stockholder creates the kind of artwork that is the envy of any serious collection. Recently described as a "Matisse of the 90's", she synthesizes Pop, Minimalism, Formalism and Surrealism to produce brilliantly coloured visual essays on the theme of forms in space.

Her site-specific installations are fully informed by historical awareness. In fact, without such tutored conceptual lenses, the pieces likely would not communicate at such an intense visual level. They are irrevocably "American" with a small "a" in feel. They take Stella's "demolition-derby approach to colour and shape" to a new, "faux-nerd" level.

Conceptual as well as constructed, the installations play on the dynamics of light and atmosphere in their surroundings, speak to the relative physical scale of gallery viewers, and take advantage of chance relationships between their own materials and content and those found in the rooms in which they are installed.

Like her mentor Mowry Baden, a Victoria sculptor with "a large appreciation for painting", Stockholder shows that she is completely aware of the formal nature of the world as one that is constructed by us, the conjurers of categories and references. While she constructs her own visual meanings from such "scratch" as coils of wire, limp plastic sheets and household objects, the viewer is called upon to grasp their gestalted totality. Only in their status as "art objects" can they be perceived as distinct, inclusive yet exclusive entities.

© Mia Johnson