"Whenever I have put the paint down on plastic rather than directly on a painting, I've felt there is some kind of paralysis that takes place where the paint is fossilized in an between state. It’s caught in time in some way, or perhaps caught within a stage of my process. When wet paint is applied directly on canvas, it feels on the one hand, where it belongs, but also in service of building an illusion or creating a flowing composition. When put on the plastic, it seems to me more in service of being captured as it is, isolated from all the other brushstrokes that make up a painting. Its character and personality assert the moment it was made, rather than being just one of many.
In this sense the paint can seem petrified. Or inert. Or caught in a state where it doesn't have the ability to evolve and change further. The result of it being captured in this way, however, has the potential for it to be examined or viewed and understood differently. Especially when it is reapplied to a painting’s surface and put back into the context of a painting conversation."
-- Sarah Cale
Sarah Cale investigates the intertwined histories of painting and collage in her meticulously executed artworks. While both mediums suggest a spontaneous act of creation, Cale subverts these expectations with her calculated and exacting process.
Cale's artwork departs from traditional modes of paint application using what she describes as 'second-hand brushstrokes.' In this process, paint is applied to a plastic surface where it dries and solidifies into physical form. The brushstroke is then carefully removed from the substrate and collaged onto a wooden, canvas or linen support. Paint sits on the surface, engendering a pronounced foreground-background relationship, as both planes exist as parallels, never intersecting. By isolating production into foreground and background their relationship becomes self-conscious and results in a representation of the brushstroke as a form of rhetoric. These works seek to represent the process in which they are made rather than a space in which to reproduce, re-design or express something actual or imagined. What appears on the support is not a picture, but an event of the making.
In recent works, Cale introduces conventionally applied oil paint into her works. She paints and collages on preliminary raw surfaces that are cut, ripped, recombined and composed as starting points for new paintings. There are two phases of collage in this process: phase one involves a collage of raw linen and older cut paintings adhered directly to the painting's support to establish the ground. The second phase involves further composing of collaged brushstrokes coupled with traditional oil paint application to tie the established composition together.
For her exhibition at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Cale will create a large-scale work specifically for the East wall of the upper gallery. The piece will follow a similar approach to that of recent paintings, presenting a work that highlights its various stages of production. In moving past tidy, stretched canvases and formal supports fit for gallery presentation, Cale explores the relationship between spontaneous creation and formal presentation.
Sarah Cale received a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and an MFA from the University of Guelph. In 2009 and 2010 she was shortlisted for the RBC painting award and has been awarded numerous grants and residencies. Her work has been shown in solo exhibitions in 2011 and 2013 at Jessica Bradley Gallery, Toronto, and has been included in recent group exhibitions at the Musée D'Art Contemporain, Montréal (2009), the Power Plant, Toronto (2010), Equinox Gallery, Vancouver (2012), Oakville Galleries, Oakville(2012) and Galerie de l'UQAM, Montréal (2013).
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