Greta Meert Gallery is proud to present the 6th exhibition (1989, 1993, 1999, 2008-2009, 2012 ) of work by Ian Wallace (°1943, lives and works in Vancouver, Canada).
The exhibition on the ground floor of the gallery features works that emphasize the contrasting strategies of pictorial art that have characterized the work of Ian Wallace over the past 50 years and that reconsider the historical shifts that have motivated his aesthetic. This first step of radical modernity is represented by a group of three monochrome canvases from 1967 that were recreated in 2009. This early work was soon followed by an equally radical turn to conceptual art and photography. The city street motifs introduced by this photographic imagery allowed for a critical reference to the world at large that contrasted with the pure space of the monochrome canvas. The recent large canvas works exhibited in this ground floor space refer to the space of the modern museum and contrasts and synthesizes the motifs of the street and abstraction. The canvas works picturing the interior and exterior of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona (MACBA) draw attention to the contrast between the pure ideals of contemporary art and the social realities that are found in the street. Another large canvas work shows a photograph of an abstract sculpture by Barnett Newman that forms a compositional device that contrasts with our observation of the deep space of the everyday world beyond it.
The works on the second floor of the gallery focus on the intimate space of the studio and on traces of the actual production of the works themselves. The group of recent canvases consists of photographs of a montage of texts on the studio work table that refers to the artist’s interest in the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé. In these photographs, which were taken during the creation of these works, an open copy of Un Coup de dés, the poet’s great masterpiece of 1897, is displayed over the sensuous folds of the same canvas upon which the photographs would be laminated in the finished work. This folds the conceptual nature of the poetic subject directly into the material support of its pictorial presentation. The images laminated onto these canvases contain a complex relationship of intertextual references, both literary and material, that binds together all the works in the exhibition.
Ian Wallace’s interest in a pictorial poetics of the production of the art object is also reflected in a series of works that document Mallarmé’s struggle to articulate the spatial typographical concept for Un Coup de dés in images of his handwritten outline for the composition of the poem that he presents against a monochrome abstract field.
Another similar group of works from the Hotel Series shows Ian Wallace’s workdesk in a hotel room that functions as a temporary studio and where he creates new works when travelling. On the desk some completed monochrome drawings can be seen. These very same drawings are exhibited alongside these canvas works of the Hotel Series canvases. They thus present in actuality what is only pictorial in the canvases, while also making a reference to the monochrome paintings from 1967 exhibited on the ground floor of the gallery.