When you walk into Wall Space Gallery, the wall furthest from the door to the far end acts as the greeting, the handshake of the gallery every time a new show is hung. Claire Desjardins’ The Secrets We Keep fills this space with her 4 x 5 foot piece “How Many Fingers” which gestures like a lover across an arrivals gate, inviting you into Desjardins’ confidences.
Desjardins cites the piece as the product of a “self-directed residency” in Mexico this past year and the show is filled with deeply personal reactions writ large in acrylics and graphite. Although you may not fully understand her imaginings, you will want to spend time in this ethereal world. At 20 feet away, you have the bold impressions of cobblestone colours, and a vague sense that acrylic is being made to do things it has no business being capable of doing. But as director Patricia Barr instructs, be sure to approach the pieces for the more subtle whispers. There are gentle graphite ladders and pathways leading through the colourful forms that you’ll miss at a distance.
If Desjardins’ large-scale abstracts are the landscape, Marney McDiarmid’s vessels are the creatures that populate it. The sculptures run the risk of being diminished by their co-habitants, but their clever placement and the common thread of secrets revealed make them part of the same ecosystem.
Inside McDiarmid’s piece “There are a lot of things I did not know” a brown envelope holds cards describing the sale of the Thousand Islands in 1856 under “Surrender Number 77”. Where Desjardins’ pieces are a personal confession, McDiarmid’s vessels draw on the artist’s concern with social justice, and can have deeply political undertones.
Desjardins will be giving an artist talk July 6th from 5:30-7:30pm and I’ll look forward to learning about the work and her collaborations in the fashion and design industry. Both collections will be on display until July 20th and this enticing juxtaposition is not to be missed.