toward the One
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June 04 to July 18, 1998
by deborah harris
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Review by Fred Herscovitch
“Toward the One” is an exhibition of collages and paintings by Toronto artist Deborah Harris currently showing at Gallery Arcturus. These are unusually sensitive pieces, and demand close scrutiny to appreciate the refinement of technique achieved by the artist. What impresses me most is the clarity of vision and the great sense of repose in the work. Deborah Harris demonstrates the all-too-rare ability to know exactly when to stop. She plays with empty spaces, allowing the viewer’s imagination to take over and fill in what has not been overtly stated. This is evident in “called”, a 14"x19" collage and acrylics on board, which evokes a mysterious twilight mood through skillful tearing and pasting of images. This surely creates something quite different from the twilights we all know, and ones we may never hope to experience. The approach to framing is quite unusual. At diagonally opposite corners of this collage the artist has mounted two pieces of frame – frame samples, really – so as not to limit the boundaries by an enclosure. This reminds me somewhat of the broken pediments and cornices which are characteristics of Rococo architecture.
Argowyn, 52"x42", collage, mixed media on board
Deborah Harris has found a splendid piece of long-suffering wood which has been cracked and wonderously coloured by weathering. Against this backdrop of hairline cracks and hollowed-out knots she has created a figure straight out of the spirit world. It is all done with torn up photos and cheesecloth treated with vegetable dyes or paints which harmonize perfectly with the subtle colours of the wood. Broken frames placed at the diagonally opposite corners of a glass overlay complete this terrific piece.
Matrix, 31"x26", oil painting on paper
This is an unusual concept. An oil painting done on paper has been sandwiched between two sheets of glass and the whole thing mounted in a specially designed wood frame which is mounted on a wall bracket so as to allow it to swing out from the wall like a french window. This allows a certain limited degree of transmission of light through the painting which can be seen from both sides. I couldn’t help wondering what effect would be achieved if a more transparent medium were used thus allowing for greater transmission of light. Stained glass would probably represent the upper limit of translucency which is achievable.
Amen, 33"x24", collage and acrylics on board
Here the artist displays extremely sensitive handling of the drawing materials which surround the fragments of collage, seamlessly tying them to the background.