July 7, 2020

Winnipeg
16° C, Clear

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Opinion

Teen-angst dreams

First exhibition at new gallery for emerging artists coolly explores high melodrama

Rachel Thorleifson’s work uses Day-Glo colours on white canvases.

SUPPLIED

Rachel Thorleifson’s work uses Day-Glo colours on white canvases.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/2/2016 (1601 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg boasts an uncommonly vibrant visual arts scene for a city its size. The Winnipeg Arts Council includes more than 50 galleries and artist-run centres on its online Cultural Map, but despite a wealth of venues, it can be hard for artists in the early stages of their careers to find space to show their work.

Publicly funded and commercial galleries are usually booked solid and beyond reach, while rental locations are expensive, lack built-in audiences, and offer little in the way of promotion and support.

Alternative spaces can better meet the needs of recent art school graduates, self-taught artists and other, harder-to-categorize weirdos, but these have limited staying power. Reliant on volunteer labour and precarious leases, these galleries flourish and fizzle in the span of a few years, a normal and often healthy state of affairs. Unfortunately, since C Space closed last year, Winnipeg just hasn’t had any.

In that light, the first show at Aceartinc.’s new Flux Gallery, a professional, juried space devoted to up-and-coming artists, would be exciting in any case, and I Dreamt [Last Night] That My Teeth Were Crumbling doesn’t disappoint. The confident, focused solo debut by 2015 U of M School of Art grad Rachael Thorleifson is a reminder of the emerging voices we might otherwise be sleeping on, and a refreshing promise of things to come.

Comprising a suite of abstract canvases and two ethereal installation pieces, the show presents a reticent but alluring facade that masks Thorleifson’s exploration of vulnerability— or at least the idea of it.

A dream of crumbling teeth can be read as a sign of powerlessness and indecision (this according the content farmers at teethfallingoutdream.org, whose authority on the matter I trust implicitly). With deathly chill, Thorleifson swaddles these insecurities in seductive surfaces, all crisp white canvas, washes of Day-Glo colour and chintzy silver foils. Her ear is tuned critically to melodrama, to the polarized tenor of adolescent feelings, and the manufacture of high emotion in retail settings, pop culture and contemporary art alike.

In the paintings, listless puddles of near-fluorescent sky blue and careful swipes of caution orange and highlighter yellow bloodlessly pantomime the "expressive" gesticulations of modernist abstraction. They’re arresting and lovely, if a bit bratty, betraying occasional, earnest echoes of Helen Frankenthaler’s soft-bodied dreamscapes.

Hero Zero by Rachel Thorleifson

SUPPLIED

Hero Zero by Rachel Thorleifson

A clear vinyl banner tacked to the wall spills onto the floor, spelling out "HERO ZERO" in a drippy silver horror font. It reads like a deflated standard for teenage angst and a possible shout-out to Swiss glam-pop artist Sylvie Fleury, who used a similar typeface in paintings that absurdly, ominously announced: "MINISKIRTS ARE BACK."

First shown in last year’s BFA exhibition, the show’s commercial gloss helps link the newer paintings to the Instagram-ready 1990s angel-baby esthetics of Thorleifson’s other recent work. At last Friday’s opening, a large rectangular Mylar balloon, the show’s remaining component, floated at ceiling height looking like a cheap celestial pillow. Tacky and sublime, it’s probably deflated and fallen by now, signaling the inevitable comedown from heaven’s after-after-after-party.

Up for just a week, this first promising show at Flux Gallery closes Friday, Feb. 19, but solo exhibitions by Michael Mogatas and Nancy Nguyen are still to come in March and April. A submission call for shows in May, July and September closes March 4, with details available on Aceart’s website.

 

 Steven Leyden Cochrane is a Winnipeg-based artist, writer and educator.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

History

Updated on Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 11:42 AM CST: Adds photos

The Free Press will close this commenting platform at noon on July 14.

We want to thank those who have shared their views over the years as part of this reader engagement initiative.

In the coming weeks, the Free Press will announce new opportunities for readers to share their thoughts and to engage with our staff and each other.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us