Recently, Toronto dealer Jessica Bradley opened a second gallery in the city’s industrial Junction neighborhood, a venue larger than her storefront on Dundas Street West. The seven abstract paintings and two site-specific sculptures comprising Julia Dault’s first solo exhibition in Canada were served beautifully by the new space. The Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based artist, who participated in the recent Gwangju and Marrakech biennials and had a solo outing at London’s White Cube Bermondsey in 2012, gained international attention for her entry in “The Ungovernables,” the 2012 New Museum Triennial, where she showed sculptures similar to those on display here.
Infusing Richard Serra’s esthetics of the self-supporting object with a late-1980s Pop sensibility, Dault stacks large sheets of rolled Plexiglas and Formica against the gallery wall, tying them together with black cotton cord and Everlast boxing hand wraps. She includes the time and date of their construction in the titles. The bottom level of Untitled 27, 11:15 am-2:30 pm, January 23, 2013 is all Plexiglas: a bluish iridescent sheet arcs upward inside a shiny black sheet arcing downward. On top is a loose roll of punched-copper Formica, tinted pink and yellow by the iridescent Plexiglas curved around it; the interior side of the Formica is untreated and fully exposed to view, product number and all. The piece is over 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Dault’s clever use of boxing wraps makes the act of the sculpture’s creation, which is never delegated to others, all the more palpable. Though the works are stable, there is a provisional quality to them, as if they might escape their configurations at any moment.
Dault’s paintings, ranging from 24 by 18 to 61½ by 42½ inches, consist of one or more layers of fabric (canvas, printed silk, linen, polyester, drawer liner or vinyl) on which paint is applied and then removed with a range of implements in various swipes, slices, half-circles and lines. Bright or fluorescent fabrics on the bottom tend to be tempered by, but still partially visible through, the black and white paint on top. In Snowbird (2012), fanlike shapes result from a texturizing comb scoring parallel striations in white paint on transparent vinyl, revealing a cheerfully retro floral silk underneath. Smaller fan shapes multiply in Rustic Hero (2012), where black paint brushed across a white pleather ground has been removed in quick diagonal strokes, creating a feathered surface marked by an imprint of the cross-shaped stretcher bars. The stratification in Moonwalk (2012) is complex, with multiple pieces of stretched fabric, and does not come across well in reproduction. Dault has applied black paint to the top layer of clear vinyl so that, in combination with the metallic layer under it, the surface looks like extraterrestrial terrain. In the lower right corner, her scraping tool pivots around multiple axes, echoing the shape of a semicircular cut that exposes bright underlayers of pink and blue. With Moonwalk, Dault seems to excavate slivers of the past, marking everywhere the passage of time.
PHOTO: View of Julia Dault’s exhibition, showing (left) Untitled 27, 11:15 am-2:30 pm, January 23, 2013, and (right) Rustic Hero, 2012; at Jessica Bradley.