Walking down the stairs to the Saskatoon Mendel Art Gallery basement a series of mirrored pieces immediately caught my eye. Thin wire designs evoked the sense of whirling wind over the surface of the mirrors. Eight square mirrors, approximately 50 cm X 50 cm, placed in a tight, regularly, repetitive pattern allowed the the round, soft contoured volume of the space defined by the wires to breathe. The ends of the wire amazingly pierced the mirror or were glued with a clean precision. The wire shone brightly under the lights becoming almost a delicate silver thread light in visual weight.
The mirror was a magical place holding and unifying this silver wind reflecting the real half and creating an illusionary half. The clearly divided negative and positive spaces existed transparently together. The mirror revealed my face through the dense wire and led me into an "Alice in Wonderland" atmosphere. It seemed that the mirror expanded the form deeper into the wall and at the same time reached out beyond the space behind me.
The pieces created a vertical line within the horizontal layering or vice versa. The weaving shapes created a rhythmical constantly vibrating illusion. Perhaps it was the strict use of the wire and mirror material which begged to connect the individual pieces. Perhaps it was their similar dynamic movement. Perhaps it was the flat white plane of the wall itself which framed the eight squares. Perhaps it was the interplay of illusion, reflection and substance which generated the question of one or many.
As if answering the question a huge "wire drawing" materialized on the opposite wall. No mirror of reflection but simply a wall with shadows from the wire dancing on the surface. It seemed like a magnified DNA code or a hurricane. Again the half form expanded into the imagination demanding completion. I checked the other side of the wall to make sure the wire hadn't been sewn through. I felt that somehow the mirrored pieces had educated my sight to finish and play with a wholeness.
The larger piece moved in unexpected directions and textures with the light and shadows. It was alive and might fall to the floor bouncing crazily away. There was a lack of balance and stability which generated an uneasy and disquieting emotional response. The monumental size of the wall piece looked more aggressive and active than its eight sectioned partner. I turned back to the mirrors and viewed the wall piece in reflection.
Finally, Tanya Zuzak shared her three large charcoal images on three separate panels yet once again they seemed as one. The drawing was like inner organs repeating forever with no beginning nor end. It demonstrated vividly Patrick Traer's description of the work of Zuzak as complicated, obsessive and repetitious.
Though the exhibition hung on the walls it encroached well into the tiny basement space reflecting in and out of itself. Arc was an installation and an excellent example of an artist exploring and experimenting with material and the imaginative study of that material. It was part of the Artists by Artists project organised by the Mendel Art Gallery Programming Plexus. Senior artist Patrick Traer and emerging artist Tanya Zuzak create an arc in Arc.
- aeran jeong
(excerpt from the Exhibition statement: Arc . . . three large charcoal images and a series of illusionary wire drawing - or rather half-drawings. Each half drawings uses hundreds of arced wires that puncture the surface of a plane, be it the wall itself or a sequence of rectangular mirrors, and become completed through the various effects of light, shadow and mirror operating on that plane. The resulting images hover magically in the air, whirl like vortexes of concentric circles and fold imperceptibly across themselves. They are uncanny, half-located and half illusion, but beautifully simple and resolute. - Patick Traer)
The Mendel Art Gallery Statement:
Tanya Zuzak/Patrick Traer | Jan. 18, 2004
artists by artists is a mentorship project that connects senior studio artists with emerging artists. This project provides emerging artists with the opportunity to network and expand their art practice with a professional in the field.
The current installation of artists by artists features senior artist Patrick Traer and emerging artist Tanya Zuzak. Patrick is both a Professor of Visual Arts at the University of Saskatchewan and a practicing artist. His solo exhibitions recently appeared at the Kenderdine Art Gallery and galerie Oboro. Traer's artwork can be found in private and public art gallery collections across Canada and around the world. Tanya received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Saskatchewan, and is a recent graduate from the Masters of Fine Arts program at Rhode Island School of Design. This exhibition presents exquisite large-scale wire installations by Tanya Zuzak.