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The Substitutes and the Absence

New works from the Z’otz* Collective are open to interpretation


ost works of art stem from an idea or a narrative. Just as it is difficult to illustrate a book before the story is written, it is difficult to make meaningful art without an idea of how the work will develop. Difficult, but not impossible. The Substitutes and the Absence, an exhibition by Toronto’s Z’otz* Collective, turns convention on its head. Instead of allowing art to emerge from an idea, Nahúm Flores, Erik Jerezano, and Ilyana Martínez simply make work and trust that a narrative will follow.

“We work in a very intuitive way, letting the piece produce the idea, not vice versa,” the three members write in an e-mail, speaking not as individuals but as a collective. “We are more interested in the struggles and discoveries in the process than in the final result.” Process is an integral part of the Collective’s work. In most cases, it is a variation on exquisite corpse, a game devised by the surrealists in which a number of collaborators add to a work in progress, stopping only when everybody present agrees that the piece is finished. The members of Z’otz* Col-

by alex J MacPherson

lective have been making art like this for almost a decade, and the works in The Substitutes and the Absence reflect their fondness for improbable figures and shapes. The Substitutes and the Absence includes drawings, sculptures, and a large mural, drawn on the gallery’s long western wall. They are the building blocks of a new, deeply personal mythology. Some pieces reflect the group’s Latin American origins, using fantastical beasts drawn from folklore. Others twist and distort common physical forms into improb-

able shapes and configurations. Together, they hint at the absurdity of the human condition — and offer a new, much broader way of seeing the world of action and interaction, of histories and politics. “Much of the work is about fluid objects and characters, how one thing transforms into another and is constantly changing,” they write. “These speak about the dynamic nature of our human condition and the cycles of life.” But this is just one interpretation. The Substitutes and the Absence can be understood in numerous ways; the

works leave space for the viewer to create a new narrative, like illustrations for a story that has yet to be written. “The way we play with our imagination or respond to each others’ marks or visual elements is entertaining to us and our works give space to multiple meanings according to the viewer,” the Collective writes. “The work is open for interpretation. Our intention is to induce people to question.” Z’otz* Collective Through October 27 @ Dunlop Art Gallery

Material, Space, Light

New ceramic works from Zane Wilcox explore physical reality and the illusion of perfection


he history of art in Saskatchewan is to no small degree defined by developments in ceramics. Beginning in the 1950s, a large number of Saskatchewan artists have pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved with

clay. Zane Wilcox, a young artist from Regina, is on the cutting edge of this movement. His work has been shown in galleries across the province, and has been collected by the MacKenzie Art Gallery. His latest body of work, Material Space

Light, positions him as one of the most important artists in one of the most important art movements in the history of the province. “They are very simple objects in some ways, sophisticated in other ways,” Wilcox says of the works that

by alex J MacPherson

make up Material Space Light, which is based on the complex interplay between solid material and empty space. “A lot of what I’m doing with it is paring away excess information and just presenting the bare minimum. Part of my intent in doing that is if all the excess is removed, we can end up seeing more of what is there. There’s less coming at us, less stuff competing for our attention.” The essence of Material Space Light is the way in which Wilcox is able to conjure up and then dismantle the idea of perfection. At first glance, the works appear to be stark examples of linear perfection. Constructed from cubes and other rectangular shapes, his sculptures appear to have an architectural precision — straight lines, flat planes, and right angles working in harmony. Upon further inspection, however, the veneer of precision gives way to countless flaws, each of which imbues the work with a sense of reality. Clay will always be an imperfect material, and Wilcox takes full advantage of its fragility. “You could take the measurements and turn them into perfectly square things with perfectly parallel lines and flat surfaces, and turn them into plastic or have them milled out of aluminum,” Wilcox says. “They would be really beautiful objects but they would be a lot more abstract. They

would look less like something that’s part of this world.” But this would be missing the point. Wilcox’s creations succeed not because they try and fail to achieve perfection, but because they point directly to the

Photo: courtesy oF the artist

gap between two ideals. The works in Material Space Light are grounded in the material reality we experience every day — they are aspirational yet resigned. And by exposing the futility of transforming organic material into perfect shapes and solids, Wilcox hints at the notion that our idea of perfection — something that can only be achieved in a clean room or a laboratory — is deeply flawed. Material Space Light Through October 26 @ Mysteria Gallery Feedback? Text it! (306) 881 8372


9 Sept 27 – Oct 3 @verbregina








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Profile for Parity Publishing Inc.

Verb Issue R97 (Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2013)  

Verb Issue R97 (Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2013)

Verb Issue R97 (Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2013)  

Verb Issue R97 (Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2013)

Profile for verb