Mary Scott

Curated by: Bruce Grenville

16 March 1989 - 8 April 1989
Opening Reception 16 March 1989 8pm

East & West Galleries:

Mary Scott: Recent Paintings

Calgary artist Mary Scott has exhibited extensively throughout Western Canada since 1979. Opening Thursday March 16 at 8:00 pm and continuing through Saturday April 8, this exhibition at Mercer Union represents the artist’s first solo exhibition in Toronto.

Curated by Bruce Grenville for the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, this exhibition will provide an opportunity to examine Scott’s current work. The exhibition at Mercer Union will focus on two recent and concurrent series of paintings: the Back series and the Imago series. The rough and awkward surfaces of Scott’s “paintings” invite the viewer to consider the formal and culturally determined limits of that medium, just as the chosen images and texts disrupt our traditional notions of the body and sexuality.

The impetus and source for these works is found in a variety of texts and images gathered in the process of Scott’ s extensive and ongoing reading of contemporary literature and critical theory. The Back series finds it source in a group of photography by Robert Mapplethorpe and in a variety of textual sources: Monique Wittig, Sappho, Peggy Kamuf, Shoshana Felman. Imago is a psychoanalytic term designating an idealized or imaginary figure from childhood which the child comes to use as a behavioral model later in life. As the name suggests, the Imago series draws on a variety of paradigmatic images from culture. In the works shown here, Scott draws on images by Leonardo da Vinci as well as imagery from contemporary pornographic magazines.

Formally, the Back series recalls Scott’s earlier use of unstretched canvas, though here the ground is unstretched felt covered with layers of spray paint, shellac and rhoplex. The “image” portion of the felt is shredded and left hanging in strips, resulting in a powerfully disconcerting image of the body – for it is a body which exceeds the traditional limits and constraints of representation. In contrast, the Imago series proposes a more refined formal ground of silk covered with gold leaf and embroidery thread. The pleasure of these refined materials, however, is ruptured by Scott’s decision to shred the silk at various points and her rough application of the gold and silver leaf. In this way Scott physically interrupts our reading of the Imago and invites us to consider its traditionally undisturbed presence in the world.

Mary Scott received her BFA from the University of Calgary and her MFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. She has participated in a variety of group exhibitions including She Writes in White Ink, (1985) at the Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff; Songs of Experience, (1986), National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Active Surplus, (1987), Power Plant, Toronto; and The Body and Society, (1988) at the Embassy Cultural House, London, Ontario. Her recent solo exhibitions include shows at The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff (1985); the Dunlop Gallery, Regina (1986); and Gallery 1.1.1., Winnipeg (1987).

From Toronto the exhibition will travel to Concordia University Art Gallery in Montreal from April 13 to May 20; The Windsor Art Gallery, Windsor, from June 23 to August 6; and The Alberta College of Art, Calgary, from September 7 to 28. Funding for the exhibition was provided by the Canada Council and The Alberta Art Foundation.

To complement the exhibition, a public lecture by Mary Scott will take place at Mercer Union at 7:00 pm, just prior to her opening Thursday March 16. Admission is free. The exhibition will also be accompanied by a catalogue with a critical essay by Bruce Grenville. Mary Scott’s exhibition continues in both Mercer Union’s East and West Galleries through Saturday April 8.