March 2 – April 20, 2024
Saturday, March 9, 2024 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Holly King & Sarah Stevenson : Suspension

Text by Chloë Lalonde

To be in suspension is to be stopped, to halt and to float, to resist time. Suspension is at once a relief as it is a punishment. To be delayed or regarded as invalid, suspension is transient – free from immediate support.

Working with maquettes, painting, drawing, sculpture and photography, Holly King is interested in the interpretation of the so-called naturalist landscape, seeing them as an externalisation, or projection of personal realities. Her work calls for complete immersion, and intrigued by the notion of a visual barrier, entering her landscapes are restricted. Nonetheless, she has invited fellow Montreal-based artist, Sarah Stevenson to intercept her serene spaces with otherworldly dispositions.

Familiar, foreboding, and ethereal, we witness the presence of alien structures, suspended and staged in space, arriving ships and passing vehicles descending on uncanny lands, glowing in movement. King’s thick, gestural brushstrokes set the emotional and meteorological climate. Dark, rocky paper craigs cradle Stevenson’s forms, airy masses in relation to the body, that provoke a wondrous sense of irreality. With a sense of stillness and grandiosity akin to ancient ruins, they become like columns framing frescos.

Created for King’s maquettes, Stevensons’ sculptures took on a fraction of their original all-encompassing dimensions. Wrapping bright coloured thread around malleable wire used in floral arrangements, Stevenson layers rings decreasing or increasing in size to create shapes that emerge from thin air, appearing similar to a Rubin vase, developed by Danish psychologist, Edgar Rubin in 1915 alongside his doctoral research on figure-ground perception, vital for visual object recognition.

Focusing on the shapes themselves, we see the vase, and on the background, faces form. Either perception expresses how our brains interpret visual information, revealing where our attention is directed. But unlike the Rubin vase, the works do not try to be optical illusions. Instead, King’s landscapes and Stevenson’s sculptures are both vessels, both simultaneously framing and containing the other. Both landmasses and vessels with openings can be looked through and into, thrusting, expanding and contracting energy.

Accompanying the images, the personification of two of Stevenson’s larger works, Batman and Long Drop, resist the ambiguity of the image. Stepping out of set, out of the landscape, knowing their given names identifies them differently, we seek the connections defined by the preconceptions of language. Void of vessel, King’s Deluge and Ominous are just that, the threat of, and calm following a storm.

Under the name A Minor Catastrophe, the collaboration has also been exhibited at TrépanierBaer in Calgary, Alberta this past October and November.