Review: Sophie Jodoin at Battat Contemporary.

November 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

(Battat Contemporary)

For the past several years, Montrealer Sophie Jodoin has produced a fascinating body of work revolving around children and war. Done is a spare style that often seamlessly weaves together drawing, painting and collage, she’s become known for her stark and quiet images of devastation. Her new show at Battat Contemporary is rather different though. Less harrowing perhaps, though still disturbing, she’s turned her focus onto producing a series of genuinely odd images.

Along one wall are a set of slightly smaller than life-sized heads. From a distance they have the stark frankness of a Walter Evans portrait, but when you get closer, the personality has been wiped out. No longer portraits, it’s hard to say what these curious figures are since their faces have been replaced with what appear to be close-ups of the leather folds of furniture. It’s a bit unsettling, perhaps even funny. They seem methodical, even clinically so, something which is only accented by the reductive use of black and white right down to the framing. There’s very little grey in her work. Unlike a lot of her other work, the cutting that usually shows itself around her figures is also largely absent. These effacements are remarkably smooth and versatile.

The other walls of the gallery take things in different directions. To one side are some large scale drawings of a piece of furniture and a shoe lace. That’s what they look like anyway, but they project the eerie sense that they might be something else. This is largely due to their context. Surrounding them are a set of fairly large collages, mostly of legs which meld into other limbs, suspended in a void with numbers tattooed in their corners.

You could make some kind of postmodernist/feminist reading out of all these bodily fragments and unsettling juxtapositions. That’s exactly what curator Susannah Wesley’s exhibition essay does, but I’m not convinced it works. There’s something too whole about her pieces. They come off more like aphorisms than fragments: dense, intrinsically coherent and self-sufficient, things which are only buttressed by their context. There’s something too perfect about her monstrous images.

I felt a cleaving in my mind / J’ai senti une fissure dans mon esprit runs from November 3- December 17.

– Matthew Purvis

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