Opening reception: Saturday, November 9, 2019 from 3-5 p.m.
Bevan Ramsay: What’s on Your Mind?
Art Mûr Montreal
Text by Katherine Lissitsa
Bevan Ramsay completed his graduate degree in sculpture nearly a decade ago, but it’s only now that he feels he has truly graduated from his MFA. This liberating feeling comes with a recent revision of his artistic practice — shifting from heavily researched conception followed by wearying production, to an unbridled expression of his creative voice. A departure from theory and structure, What’s on Your Mind? represents an entry point into an instinctive and open-ended place of material and psychological exploration.
At the heart of this exploration lies the fascination with objects found in antique stores and thrift shops — an interest that unexpectedly flourished after an apprenticeship in antique restoration during Ramsay’s time as a student. Considering collecting a form of expression, he now rummages through arbitrary assortments of objects until he uncovers something striking.
Aware of how a given object was once meaningful to its creator, he deems its removal from that context bizarrely compelling. “I just love that,” he says. “I’m endlessly entertained by looking through these collections of things, thinking of the histories of these pieces, and then collecting them myself.”
What follows is an ad-lib artistic assemblage. Ramsay lets the objects speak to him by fusing, manipulating, and playing with what he acquires — from plastic baby dolls to unsettling clown paintings. Attracted to the idea of contradictions coexisting in the same space and time, Ramsay blends humour with horror, beauty with eeriness, and turns these contradictions into cohesive, sculptural wholes.
But these pieces don’t come with a roadmap. Instead, they evolve throughout the process without the presence of a preconceived outcome. When asked about what goes through his mind as he creates, Ramsay’s answer is simple: nothing at all. “I just go for it,” he says. And out of 100 joyous experiments, he arrives at a final satisfactory piece — the sum of which now make up What’s on Your Mind?
This novel approach to his sculpting practice emerged as a way to find a process that feels organic and sustainable. In turn, letting go of the notion that a coherent thesis is mandatory resulted in a generative, exciting, and fulfilling experience — to the point where Ramsay considers some of the pieces allegorical self-portraits that crack open a window into his spontaneous subconscious.
Bevan Ramsay not only welcomes the unknown in relation to production, but he also embraces flexibility when it comes to perception. The improvisation embedded in his newfound approach makes the meaning of the featured pieces indeterminate, opening the door to multiple interpretations. And given that he seeks a collaboration with the individual interpreter as an added layer to the work, Ramsay therefore asks: what’s on your mind?
Bevan Ramsay is a Canadian sculptor and installation artist whose artistic practice focuses on the dialogue between expectation and frustration in which there can be no clear resolution. By exploring contradictory perspectives of a subject, his sculptures and installations do not seek unity, but rather admit paradox as a basic feature of human experience. Ramsay is currently based in Norfolk, Connecticut.