Friday, December 20, 2013

Walter Scott

Literary representations of the contemporary art world have been with us awhile now. For my generation it is Tama Janowitz's novel Slaves of New York (1986); for those born in the 1980s it is Walter Scott's comic series Wendy (2011-).

Earlier this year I was introduced to Walter at a VAG opening, where I learned he had recently moved to Vancouver and was preparing an exhibition that opened this fall at Macaulay & Co. This too was a notable show.

Comprised equally of spare free-standing sculpture and wall works that mix minimal and figurative motifs, Scott's show bears little resemblance to the shallow cartoon art world he is not so much satirizing but "relocating" from reality to the illustrated page. But what stood out first, at least for this viewer, was the recurrence of a safety colour we associate with traffic control: orange. (Walter is Kahnawake Mohawk and grew up amidst the Oka Standoff.) Also in evidence are shapes and textures that conspire to form masks and screens, most of which are, in some form, open (or opening).

Perhaps it is the relative openness of these objects that has allowed the gallery artist to emerge from behind the comic book author who depicts those anxious to engage in such a world -- fictive artists like "Wendy". But whatever the case, I expect we will be hearing more from Walter in the coming years.

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