Thursday, February 25, 2010

Corinne Duchesn "In Memorandum" Harcourt House, February 18 - March 20, 2010*

With indiscernible text scratched into one piece along the short wall, and an inexplicable reoccurrence of the same cherry tree and bowl fixated in the majority of the exhibiting works, Corinne Duchesne's In Memorandum remains mostly a mystery of her memories.

Image credit: Corinne Duchesne, "Blazing Cherry" Mixed media on Mylar 36"H x 123" W

Relying heavily on Jungian, Freudian, and antiquity symbols as motivation for herself and hopefully for the viewers, the works throughout the exhibition were created during a period of intense grief for the artist. For whom she was grieving remains a quiet matter, one could guess it was for a child with the repetition of a plush rabbit with long ears, but for whom she is grieving ceases to be the point in an exhibition focused solely on the grieving process.

There is no doubt of the artist's technical capabilities; with each mark made and captured, the strokes of emotion run the gamut of calm to wild, and this energy in each piece makes for an open entry for viewers to engage. Multi-layered with various treatments from washes to resistances, they are simply appeasing to the eye, but stepping back and seeing the exhibition as a whole, there is an underlying disconnection between the emotion put into the work and the sensation one draws from it.

As a series of triptychs each hinged on a beginning, middle and end structure, each piece reads as a visual entry of a daily diary, bringing together fragments of thoughts, images and moments that do not necessarily cohere together, but are made to be remembered.

The repetition of certain images across the show do not connect with one another, existing as islands unto themselves, making each occurrence appear more like drawing studies and exercises. As large expansive bursts of colours textured onto 10-foot-long strips of mylar, Duchesne's pieces are individually engaging. Collected side by side, however, the works have no room to breathe, suffocating themselves and viewers with saturation.

The most interesting aspect of the show is that while the works were created during a grieving period, they are undeniably full of vitality, as to grieve is to honour life, be it the end of one or our very own. Understandably it is difficult to discern the logical process of how one person grieves, but as a visual exhibition designed to engage with a general public on the subject matter of grieving, the works are a document and history of heavily subjective visual metaphors that leave viewers in an unsatisfied state between a process and its praxis. To view somebody's drawings during their time of grieving does not necessarily translate to an understanding of that emotion, nor does it have to, as the show appears to be more about remembering this period of grief than anything else. But if the show is to be contextualized under the umbrella of exploring the nature of grieving, there should at least be some point of transference, or elicitation of understanding another shade of grief—otherwise, the works remain therapeutic exercises, that albeit are important to do, but not necessarily ready to exhibit under the same intentions.

*First published in Vue Weekly

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