MAIN SPACE EXHIBITION
JULY 2 – JULY 31, 2004
RECEPTION: FRIDAY, JULY 2, 2004 AT 8 PM
LOCATION – STRIDE GALLERY
722, 11 AVE S.W, CALGARY, ALBERTA
L’ENCADREMENT is part of Jacek Jarnuszkiewicz’s process as it relates to his practice within the realm of public art, which has occupied an important but controversial space in the visual arts culture of Quebec. A scaled structure made with an incalculable number of copper plates overlapping one another, lies flat on the floor. Around it a barrier restricts its access, as if it was a precious object. Moreover, to greater emphasize the irony of the situation, birds are perched all around the barrier, leaning with a look of indifference and carelessness on what should be forbidden. The term “encadrement” refers to the actual framing of the work of art but also signifies, in other contexts, the structure that underlies and supports an idea or a concept. In this piece the title refers not only to the barriers between the public and the work but also reasserts control of the meaning of the work by the artist.
JACEK JARNUSZKIEWICZ is a mid-career artist and received his MFA from the Concordia University in 1984. He has completed numerous public sculptures in Québec and exhibited extensively in Québec and Europe. His exhibition at the Stride Gallery is his first in Canada outside of Québec.
The artist’s last installation was conceived around this idea of variable geometry reproducing formal as well as semantic multiplicity. An incalculable number of copper plates overlap one another like the scales of a fish or the sequins of a dress. Together they form a single structure which lies flat. The large number of copper plates produce light reverbations making the surface difficult to look at. Around it, a barrier restricts its access as if it was precious object or a famous work of art. To further emphasize the irony of the situation several birds are perched on the barrier, leaning indifferently and carelessly on what should be forbidden. They gaze elsewhere and do not seem to be interested by the value of the object. The birds play the role of the spectator that looks without seeing, more interested by what is going on outside the enclosure. The work occupies an important space, but the display of its context in the gallery space adds an additional emphasis meant to be provocating. Instead of delimiting the work, L’encadrement tends to ridicule it and accentuate its own derision, acting as a foil, a system of defense. Here lies the system of art, often more cumbersome than what it seeks to protect. Jacek Jarnuszkiewicz’s absurd humour becomes apparent in the pleasure he takes in inversing the roles by framing his own work before others do.. Even the critical text that justifies his process will be framed by the artist.»
Excerpt from the exhibition, text by Gaston St-Pierre.
Since 1977, Jacek Jarnuszkiewicz has produced close to twenty public art projects, commissions and works integrated to architecture, commonly referred to as 1% projects in Québec. Having been working in the realm of public art for more than 25 years, the work he exhibits acts as a witness to this experience and his interest for architecture, urban planning as well as the relationship between art, the site and its public. The work entitled L’encadrement deals with these last interests and denounces with irony and humour the system of art’s tendency to distance the intention of the artist and his public of the work it hopes to show and protect.
Of monumental dimension, his work is integrated to the site or at times, resembles an impertinent commentary on the propriety of public institutions. Objects made to fit into each other form a unit from which a surprising tension emanates. His visual process is founded in relationships of contrast and opposition obtained from combining single objects and multiples, materiality and lightness, clues of the passing of time and a resistance to it.
The metal objects, most often made of zinc or copper that compose his work are built as a surface, resembling a shell like form. Their impeccable construction and the material with which they are made accentuate their materiality, but the way they are put together and their hollow form provide them with an apparent lightness. In Ecce Homo (2002), L’odyssée (2000),Corrosion active et permanente III (1995) and Transition muette (1997), the skiff, the anvil, the Le Corbusier couch, the umbrella and keys are all everyday objects but they do not refer to this reality. Rather, they are like a portal to a poetic dimension and they carry within themselves a potential for transformation.
In “L’encadrement”, the framed surface gives access to a poetic dimension because it does not offer a definitive answer to what is the nature of the enclosed object before us. Facing it, the viewer engages a process of questionning and must resort to his own imagination, his own knowledge and his own memories to figure out what lies before him.The viewer is unable to find a definite answer to his question as to what the surface is or represents. The surface is resisting to its own denomination. The answer to the viewer’s question must reside in his own hypothesis and his uncertainty. By creating a sense of suspension in the viewer, the artist extends the viewing time of the work and offers an opportunity for his public to access his imaginatry and infuse himself in the work. In The time it takes for the viewer to figure out the work, a circular time is produced. This circular time is composed of the reflective process of the viewer and the imagination of the individual towards the work. The time it takes for the viewer to figure out what lies in front of him acts as a resistance to linear time.
The artist offers the viewer the opportunity to complete the work and to project his own meaning although uncertain into it until the next viewer goes through the same process. The work is continually renewed by new ideas being brought forth by each viewer. Without them, the work would remain incomplete. Due to the multiple meanings that can emerge from the flat surface, framed as a precious objet, acts as a matrix with unending potential for transformation. Thus, Jacek Jarnuszkiewicz hopes to achieve a relationship of complicity with the viewer, a relationship he seeks with the viewer of his public work, but the barrier around the surface renders this aspiration too complicitly difficult.
This frame in its literal and figurative sense, with its references to pictoral art history and architectural structure, obstructs the intention of the artist from getting across to the viewer and the viewer from connecting to the work. It is as if the desire to define the indefinable drives the system of art to box in the surface, to render the mutable immutable.
Furthermore, the indifferent gaze of the birds sends the viewer back to the exhibition space. By doing so, it leads the viewer to a text also framed by the artist. Written by Gaston St-Pierre, a colleague and art critic, it reveals the intention of the artist and brings a new interpretation to the work. This unusual gesture on the part of the artist, the one of including a critical text about his work in the exhibition space, replaces the traditional text of the curator and reasserts the original intention behind the work. The two interpretations or discourses, the artist’s and the viewer’s act as a counterweight, a form of resistance to a third interpretation, the curator’s who will kindly be willing to play the game.
KARINE RAYNOR is an artist and cultural worker. She holds a Master’s degree in Museum Studies from l’Université de Montréal. She lives and works in Montreal. In her spare time Karine Raynor enjoys drinking coffee and reading trashy magazines while she thinks of new ways of bringing art to the public.