“Histories,” located just down the hall from a large exhibition of works by another Manitoba painter, and Group of Seven member, Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald, has the air initially of an intervention.
Visually noisy yet neutral in tone, the 11 abstract non-compositions that make up Guelph-based artist Martin Pearce’s “Mud and Iron” seem to long for the palliative, soft-on-the-eyes aesthetic of an off-white wall. Up close, though, the futility of that longing emerges in the violent traces of Pearce’s process, by which paint and encaustic wax have not only been dabbed and brushed into thick layers but also scraped off, bored into and chipped away, revealing a blindingly complex catastrophe of colour and substance.
Redaction (along with its bedfellows censorship and erasure) may be the archetypal bugbear of democracy—one only has to point to examples like Joseph Stalin’s excising disfavoured figures from Soviet history to stir up fears of state paternalism and oppression. Nevertheless, the increasingly fraught political and media landscape of today’s West may also be prompting a kind of redaction renaissance.
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