Friday, October 30, 2015

Jerry Pethick at the VAG

Dear W,

Just returned from Jerry Pethick's unfortunately titled Shooting the Sun/Splitting the Pie. As much as I would like to say how nice it was to see so much of Jerry’s work at once (some of which I am unfamiliar with), it felt at times like I was walking through a warehouse. The exhibition generates no overtone and comes off as less than the sum of its parts.

This could have been remedied through subtraction, or by mounting the exhibition on the floor below it where the bias arrays would have benefited from that floor’s two large rooms. Instead, Wheelbarrow/Cabin (1989) is compromised by an unnecessarily adjacent wall work. What is more, Geoffrey Farmer's (reprinted) text appears in the catalogue without mention of the 2011 SFU Burnaby exhibition that commissioned it -- yet another instance of the VAG forgetting that the city’s cultural ecology continues outside its admittedly too small walls.

Something I have learned from this exhibition: Jerry's arrays are so grand that they need to be displayed in large(r) spaces and in relation to the work(s) of others, not with more of what Jerry does so well. We saw shades of this with the Jerry/Christina Mackie exhibition; less so with the Jerry/Liz Magor/Ron Tran exhibition that followed it (both at Catriona’s). Will we ever see Jerry's arrays in relation to, say, Brian Jungen’s Void (2002), or Jerry's Intersections (1971) with Ian Wallace's photo-paintings of intersections? Hope so. In the meantime, I remain bummed by this cramped and static show.

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