A Pea Can Be Chopped Up and Reassembled Into The Sun
May 28 - July 31, 2021
Phomohobes (Jason Cawood and Colby Richardson), Paul Robles, Gerry Ruecker, and Rhayne Vermette
curated by Sandee Moore
A Pea Can Be Chopped Up and Reassembled Into The Sun dispels the notion of collage as crafty kid stuff and instead invites appreciation for the radical creativity and cultural critique inherent in this cut-up technique.
What does it mean to cut up a pea and reassemble it into the sun? Curator Sandee Moore seized upon a theorem in set-geometry to provide a quirky and illustrative analogy to explain collage as a generative process. The Banach-Tarski paradox in geometry is often informally stated as "a pea can be chopped up and reassembled into the sun." While cutting up and reassembling a ball to increase its volume confounds basic geometric intuition, the notion that the blade is not destructive but rather creative is familiar magic to collage artists.
The four artists and collectives in A Pea Can Be Chopped Up and Reassembled into the Sun hearken back to the radical roots of collage. Collage, and its cousins montage, photomontage and assemblage, appropriate and re-contextualize popular messages. For example, early 20th Century avant-garde artists such as Hannah Höch and John Heartfield transformed propaganda into anti-fascist political satire. Later, 1960's pop artists such as Richard Hamilton recombined advertising images to reflect the oppressive ideals of domesticity, gender and capitalist consumption. Today's collage artists continue to skew norms and uncover new ways of thinking about the world produced by illogical juxtaposition.
The art-making duo of Jason Cawood & Colby Richardson, known as Phomohobes, queer the normative desires and lush lifestyles featured in vintage architecture magazines. The duo scan and print their hand-cut collages, returning the source material to the impenetrable membrane of the printed page. Phomohobes have created two unique pieces for this exhibition at the Art Gallery of Regina: a bespoke collage wallpaper and a book of ten thousand artificial intelligence-generated titles for "works not shown."
Winnipeg-based film-maker Rhayne Vermette draws on her training as an architect to create ephemeral fantasy architecture. Vermette encases transparent slivers of film and photo negatives of interior spaces and homes, including her own desk, in bricks of clear Lucite, referencing the fractured nature of memory and experience and the futility of trying to arrest the fleeting and composite pictures created by the mind.
Working intuitively, Regina's Gerry Ruecker gives new life and new meaning to a hodgepodge of cast-off objects, often collecting the sorts of decorative frills and flourishes that are disdained by old-fashioned hierarchies of artistic worth. Ruecker's elaborate assemblages of ornamental picture frames are a radical inversion of the relationship of frame to artwork. The frame is generally not a part of the artwork, but it serves to confer the status of "art" upon the artwork; many of Ruecker's sculptures are nothing but frame!
Finally, Paul Robles understands that each snip of his scissors opens up a space for contradictory meanings to flood through. His complex, lacy cut paper pieces, modeled after the Chines paper cutting technique he encountered when visiting relatives in China, are irresolvable gestalt images - appearing both as tangles of snakes, birds, skulls and flowers and as a grimacing face watching the viewer. Continually shifting between negative and positive space, Robles' work proposes revolutionary equality between subject, material and composition.
The exhibition A Pea Can Be Chopped Up and Reassembled Into the Sun invites consideration of the illogical and collage as relevant to a contemporary world that continues to bewilder and confound.
The Art Gallery of Regina is grateful to Sk Arts and the City of Regina for their core funding, and to Bryce Yanoshewski for creating exhibition display items.
Paul Robles gratefully acknowledges financial assistance from the Manitoba Arts Council and the generous support of the Winnipeg Arts Council with funding from the City of Winnipeg. The artist also thanks Robert Taite and Keith Oliver.
Gerry Ruecker gratefully acknowledges the generous support of SK Arts.
Rhayne Vermette gratefully acknowledges financial assistance from the Manitoba Arts Council.
Listen to the exhibition audio tour (click here to listen)
Online Exhibition catalogue for A Pea Can Be Chopped Up and Reassembled Into The Sun (downloadable PDF coming soon)
See our workshops page for information and to register for a Xerogrpahy workshop with A Pea Can Be Chopped Up and Reassembled Into The Sun artist Colby Richardson on Wednesday, June 2 from 6 to 8 PM in the Neil Balkwill Civic Arts Centre.