Shirley Wiitasalo

17 April to 24 May 2014


Similar to her previous body of work, shown at the gallery in 2010, the works on view here were created using a “transfer process.” The synonyms of transfer, as a verb—to move, to apply, to copy—ultimately suggest that her marks are the deliberate residues of such processes and carry the imprinted qualities of some other thing within them.

In these two new concurrent series of paintings, the line is a recurring visual motif. In the first, parallel bands of black acrylic, varying in opacity and thickness, run across canvases slicked with metallic silver. What results are a lengthy set of visual similes: venetian blinds, the vertical roll of a glitchy vacuum tube television, or the errant lines produced by a raster scan printer running out of toner. In the other series, which in turn is marked by a bolder palette of pinks, oranges and blues, the line is employed in an entirely different way. Here Wiitasalo turns the line on edge, folding each one onto itself to create a closed loop to encircle flat areas of colour. Around these discrete areas Wiitasalo has laid down scumbled grounds in contrasting hues, so that these central forms appear to be not so much islands floating on hazy fields as they are apertures that puncture through those topmost surfaces to distant colours beyond.

It is not that these works are on or about line, though we designate them as one of art’s most basic marks or something that we instinctively employ elsewhere as a way to “connect the dots.” Nor are they necessarily about process. Wiitasalo’s paintings make no moves towards drawing conclusions, relying instead on their deliberate inscrutability—or its synonyms: mysteriousness, ineffability. Here, it might be futile to busy ourselves with itemizing the technical aspects of her abstractions, and that it is rather the gestures of the gesture—the wavering line, or a rupture through the picture plane—are unspeakable directives on how to look.