Trevor Kiernander : Let’s Get Lost
Text by Andrea Valentine-Lewis
Trevor Kiernander’s works are the result of an evolving experimentation in deconstructing the traditions of painting; much like mixing and mastering music, his process considers notions of cutting, pasting, sampling, and the rhythmic relationships between colour and form. For example, his new work, Untitled, demonstrates the contradictory nature of these new compositions: on the left side of the canvas, he has rendered what looks to be capillaries or tiny fingers that bleed upward only to be cut short by a clean and methodical blue gradient; and within this same canvas, he uses various opacities and painterly techniques resulting in translucent washes of colour interrupted by inky black fields. Kiernander is a master of balance and harmony in the way he can combine disjointed components into an intelligible and satisfying whole.
The title of the exhibition, Let’s Get Lost, does not simply suggest an involuntary shift towards a grave uncertainty; for Kiernander, it also implies a self-motivated attempt to break free from constraints and move towards a sensational unknown. In this exhibition, Kiernander mirrors these multiple meanings of “getting lost” by presenting his work in an entirely new way where his paintings – for the first time – become a form of sculptural architecture within space. Taking inspiration from the Bauhaus Stage workshop of the 1920s, Kiernander is interested in the performative expressions that originated from the German academy that was renowned for architecture and design; the Bauhaus school’s desire to understand the relationship between the human body and space resulted in an ongoing project that combined theatricality, mathematics, and movement together with foundational Bauhaus convictions. Let’s Get Lost builds upon these principles by extending planar paintings into the three-dimensional realm and shifting the ordinarily-cubic gallery into something entirely new – a sort of performance space. Kiernander refers to these sculptural interrogations as “hiccups,” insinuating a literal wave, or a vibration across the picture plane.
Like his painting compositions that harmoniously combine disjointed components into a consumable whole, Kiernander sees Let’s Get Lost as its own environment composed of various works, inviting the body to navigate around and through space. In this exhibition, Kiernander expands his recent practice of painting on irregularly-shaped canvases, and this shift away from exclusively quadrilaterally-bound compositions, enforces his desire to circumvent and challenge what painting actually means. More than ever, Kiernander’s new works reflect his ongoing desire to investigate our relationship to space. Let’s Get Lost suggests asking questions like: do backgrounds and foregrounds exist IRL (in real life)? Can freedom and movement actually exist within the picture place? Can architectural design evoke play?