Toronto-based artist Nicole Collins takes her cues from alchemy in a new exhibition at the McMaster Museum of Art, Breaking Black. The artist was invited to develop an exhibition, combining her own works with selections from McMaster’s collection, as part of the Museum’s ongoing program, inviting artists as guest curators.
The work of the artist is often compared to that of the alchemist—experimental, transformative and transcendent—and alchemy has been a preoccupation for Collins throughout her own artistic practice. Her work, primarily encaustic painting, focuses on the effect of time, accumulation, force and heat on visceral materials.
For Breaking Black, Collins has selected paintings by Louis Comtois, Anselm Kiefer, and Sigmar Polke; a sculpture by David Nash; a 5th century BCE Kalyx-Krater; and a contemporary painting by an unknown artist. Two recent works by Collins are included as well as a recent work by Czech-born Toronto artist Jiri Ladocha, loans from the artists. (A detailed list of works follows.)
The title Breaking Black is drawn from one of Collins’ works (detail above, installation view at left).
In discussing the exhibition, Collins says, “The goal of alchemy was multiple: to transform base metals to gold; to pass from the darkness of ignorance to enlightenment; to transcend the physical and gain access to the spiritual. In this exhibition a kind of transmutation occurs with the gathering of these works.”
An exhibition publication, with an essay by Nicole Collins and colour images, is available.
Nicole Collins is a Toronto-based artist and an award-winning educator at the Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCADU). Since 1994 she has shown in 10 solo exhibitions including The Embassy of Canada in Tokyo, and participated in many group exhibitions in Toronto, New York, London, Zurich.