Evolving Palate

January 7 – February 25, 2023
Opening reception: Saturday, January 7, 2023, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Aralia Maxwell: Evolving Palate

Text by Béatrice Larochelle

Aralia Maxwell’s aesthetic universe straddles the familiar and the foreign, offering us singular objects with vibrant colors and seductive texture. Through her organic-looking creations, motifs from Saskatchewan, its culinary culture and vegetation, surface.

It is through the continuous layering of acrylic flourishes, using pastry shells and spatulas, that the artist is able to transform the medium of paint into three-dimensional sculpture. A slowness is imposed as Maxwell must bend to the drying time of the material to continue the accumulation of her flowers. In his most recent series of Monochrome Satisfactions, the artist deploys a range of tones from a single synthetic color. Arranging the pale and the saturated phthalo blue in complex ripples, she reminds us of the Phentex slippers our grandmothers carefully knitted for us. A split is created in this idea of handmade and repetitive gesture while our own systems rely on the convenience of industrial production. In a practice that is closer to process than to result, she manipulates plastic and color, reconfiguring the boundaries between painting and sculpture.

It is no accident that Aralia Maxwell’s world reminds us of the extravagant ornamentation of kitsch cakes or the broken lines of modern painting. Much of the inspiration for her earlier practice is drawn from retro aesthetic movements and the deep capitalist values associated with them – a way for Maxwell to confront the different modes of hierarchy and discrimination associated with this period. What happens when beauty becomes decorative and attraction gives way to repulsion? These sculptural paintings confront our relationship to food and its consumption, or rather its overconsumption. These metamorphic creations are placed at the border between appetite and disgust, playing on our reception of the image and on our own referents. Maxwell questions the representational power of an object: to what extent can it be stripped of its characteristics to become an abstract form, while remaining recognizable?

As its name suggests, Evolving Palate takes us on an ever-changing sensory journey, where states merge, and reference points become blurred.

The artist gracefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.