Myfanwy MacLeod: Gold

6 November–12 Decem­ber 2009

Myfanwy MacLeod

Catri­ona Jef­fries is pleased to announce the forth­com­ing exhi­bi­tion of new work by Myfanwy MacLeod. MacLeod’s prac­tice draws on a myr­iad of ref­er­ences from pop and con­sumer cul­ture, folk­lore and art his­tory, in diverse media encom­pass­ing sculp­ture, draw­ing, per­for­mance, video and pho­tog­ra­phy. MacLeod’s work is lay­ered with sly humour and is embed­ded with allu­sions to the con­tem­po­rary con­di­tion and an ongo­ing nod to the past. In this exhi­bi­tion, MacLeod’s new body of work engages with folk art and min­i­mal­ist his­to­ries through paint­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy and large-scale sculpture.

Expand­ing on recent work exhib­ited in the Nomads exhi­bi­tion at the National Gallery of Canada which addressed the “drunk nar­ra­tive”, MacLeod has cre­ated a giant moon­shine still re-imagined as a series of rus­tic min­i­mal­ist cubes and painted bar­rels. Every­thing seems empty with­out you (2009) is based on images from MacLeod’s exten­sive col­lec­tion of post­cards from the 1950s and 60s – a con­tin­ued explo­ration of what has been called her satir­i­cal “mon­u­ment to alco­holism”. MacLeod’s min­i­mal­ist con­struc­tion addresses a his­tory of shifts in soci­etal stances on alco­holism over the last cen­tury and specif­i­cally the rise of the ele­vated per­sonae of the rebel­lious mas­cu­line drunk fig­ure in the 1950s. Speak­ing to the rela­tion­ship between mod­ernism and alco­holism in terms of gen­der roles, MacLeod also probes the writ­ing of art his­tory in terms of mem­ory, or the loss of a recov­ery nar­ra­tive, so often induced from over-drinking. Jostling art his­tory from a fixed, to a fluid state, MacLeod’s sculp­ture is indica­tive of her endur­ing inter­ests in art as cul­tural tra­di­tion, art’s social and per­sonal rel­e­vance, as well as the rela­tion­ship between art and commerce.

MacLeod has also pro­duced a series of seven new paint­ings which reclaim mytho­log­i­cal tra­di­tions of iconic Amish hex signs, typ­i­cally painted on the barns of Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch com­mu­ni­ties as a way of sum­mon­ing the forces of good luck, fer­til­ity or love. MacLeod’s signs are painted on wood pan­els by a local sign painter, as if pulled from the barns them­selves, self-reflexively call­ing atten­tion to the exhi­bi­tion con­di­tions of con­tem­po­rary art but removed from the hand of the artist her­self. Ref­er­enc­ing post­war mod­ernism and the dom­i­nant male artists of this period, the vibrant geo­met­ric pat­terns sug­gest Sol le Witt’s wall paint­ings and the lin­ear for­ma­tion mim­ics the seri­al­ity of min­i­mal­ism. At the same time, like the empty min­i­mal­ist cubes of the alco­hol still, the works speak to the aes­thetic car­ry­overs of the barn paint­ings, which now pri­mar­ily exist as dec­o­ra­tion, gen­er­a­tions removed from their orig­i­nal mytho­log­i­cal meaning.

In another major paint­ing Ain’t noth­ing ever hap­pened (2009) MacLeod reclaims folk art forms found in quilt pat­terns from the South­ern United States. Through bold geo­met­ric mod­ernist forms the paint­ing con­tains sto­ries steeped in decades of tra­di­tion and the col­lec­tive labour of a group of women. Re-presented as both a tex­tile wall hang­ing and within the con­text of high art, the paint­ing evokes ques­tions about the notion of an authen­tic art discourse.

Play­ing off the idea of an artist’s great­est hits, or the Gold album, MacLeod has also included an early pho­to­graph from 1981 in this body of work, show­ing an image of a lone female fig­ure smok­ing in the wilder­ness within a heavy gilded wood frame. Using the for­mal device of the por­trait pho­to­graph and ref­er­enc­ing tra­di­tions of the pas­toral land­scape, this work is framed once more by a dark for­est green wall, as if a reminder of the con­stant process of “fram­ing” and a means for col­laps­ing dis­tinc­tions between art work and exhi­bi­tion space.

We are also pleased to announce that in March 2010 a large scale sculp­tural com­mis­sion by MacLeod will be unveiled in the main plaza within the Olympic Vil­lage in South­east False Creek as the first Olympic and Par­a­lympic legacy art com­mis­sion for the City of Vancouver.

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