Jerry Pethick

12 September–11 Octo­ber 2008

Jerry Pethick

To launch its 2008 fall exhi­bi­tion pro­gram Catri­ona Jef­fries Gallery pre­sented a solo exhi­bi­tion of major works by Jerry Pethick. On the fifth anniver­sary of his pass­ing, the exhi­bi­tion included large scale sculp­tural works, pho­to­graphic arrays and numer­ous wall works rep­re­sent­ing the broad range of Pethick’s explo­rations into imag­ing tech­nolo­gies and epis­te­mo­log­i­cal thought. At a moment when a younger gen­er­a­tion of artists such as Geof­frey Farmer and Gareth Moore are explor­ing new approaches to sculp­ture and mate­r­ial, the inno­va­tion of Pethick’s work is piv­otal. His prac­tice is strongly rooted in its vis­ceral mate­ri­al­ity and is marked by a rig­or­ous inquiry into art his­tory, sci­ence and the­o­ries of visual perception.

This exhi­bi­tion brings together early works on paper from the 1960s and sculp­tural work from the 1980s through to the 2000s, includ­ing Pethick’s first large scale pho­to­graphic array and his early inves­ti­ga­tions into the rela­tion­ship between sculp­tural space and multi-dimensional imag­ing sys­tems. Pethick con­tin­u­ally drew upon and linked his work to advance­ments in think­ing through­out his­tory, par­tic­u­larly the free­dom of artis­tic and sci­en­tific explo­ration that occurred in Europe at the end of the nine­teenth cen­tury and begin­ning of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury. In his pho­to­graphic arrays, Pethick devel­oped the French physi­cist Gabriel Lippmann’s the­o­ries of the fly’s eye lens through the use of fres­nel lenses and mul­ti­ple images of one sub­ject which cre­ate a com­pos­ite image. Pethick’s arrays address the camera’s inabil­ity to cap­ture three-dimensional “mate­r­ial space.” Removed from the pic­to­r­ial or ref­er­en­tial, Pethick’s array pho­tographs promi­nently fig­ure the indus­trial land­scape, his­tor­i­cal loca­tions and the artist’s stu­dio as sites of par­tic­u­lar interest.

The fly is also a motif that con­tin­u­ally appears in Pethick’s work. Sim­i­lar to the fly’s expe­ri­ence of space, form and mean­ing in Pethick’s work oper­ate through a non-linear embod­ied expe­ri­ence of the viewer, dis­lodg­ing our sense of real and vir­tual space. In this way, in works such as Out of the Cor­ner of an Eye (1990) and The Last View (1989) Pethick calls atten­tion to the way in which we per­ceive what we are see­ing, out of the cor­ner of our eye or as the last shape that is recorded on the retina of the eye at the final moment before death. In Through the Trees (Wal­nut) (1994–95) yel­low forms painted on enamel and a tele­vi­sion tube ref­er­ence the dap­pled light cre­ated by sun through the leaves of a wal­nut tree, not meant as a lit­eral depic­tion but as a ref­er­ence to the effects of light and shadow and the influ­ence of tech­nol­ogy on visual perception.

Pethick’s three dimen­sional wall works dis­rupt what we have come to under­stand as draw­ing, paint­ing and sculp­ture. He acknowl­edges and yet shifts the con­di­tions of pro­duc­tion and com­mod­ity cul­ture through the re-configuration of re-cycled indus­trial and domes­tic mate­ri­als. Shown for the first time in Canada, this exhi­bi­tion will present Pethick’s large-scale free stand­ing fig­ure made entirely of glass bot­tles, Le Semeur/Sunlight and Flies (1987–2002). In this mon­u­men­tal work Pethick explores light and reflec­tion and again con­nects to moments in the his­tory of art, ref­er­enc­ing the sower of seeds in French Real­ist Jean-Francois Millet’s rural land­scape. Fol­low­ing the con­tin­uum of all Pethick’s work, the fig­ure is at once play­ful, his­tor­i­cal, eco­log­i­cal and perceptual.

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion or press enquires please con­tact Catri­ona Jef­fries or Anne Low at +1 604 736 1554.