July 15, 2022

Al McWilliams – Remnants and Reclamations: an Archeology of the Studio

In the Viewing Room at TrépanierBaer

“The earth makes a sound as of sighs. To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now.”  Samuel Beckett

TrépanierBaer is pleased to present Al McWilliams – Remnants and Reclamations: an Archeology of the Studio, a recent suite of collage works shown in intimate shadow boxes. Made from casual discards, materials, objects found on the street, studio scraps and leftovers, these overlooked and unnoticed items are a kind of urban archeology that reflects modern-day civilization and the practices and preferences of its inhabitants. The re-assemblage of these materials in dynamic and elegant configurations confers a new life on them, and elicits innumerable responses and narratives from the viewer. For example one can see resonances with the Nude Descending Staircase No. 2 (1912) by Marcel Duchamp; or Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913, cast in 1950) by Umberto Boccioni; or the figurative works of Hannah Hoch and Philip Guston.

The assembled objects are part of a circular economy where things deemed of no value are reconstituted. What was sloughed off and ignored can be salvaged, reclaimed and reordered. Castoffs are reconsidered, reinvigorated.

The process is a way of thinking about the world as collage or construct, as disordered fragments being brought together and rehabilitated. The act of dismembering and reordering is often an essential activity of the studio. The world is invited into the studio – in this case as fragments – the fragments are reordered and then sent back into the world. This reordering is not simply a technique or a strategy, but can also be a recognition of the instability of knowledge in the world and its provisionality. The reordering becomes the subject itself.

So much of our knowledge and sense of what was, and is, comes through fragments – fragments of texts, mosaics, reliefs, frescos, architectural ruins – and through these fragments we build narratives and meaning as we interpret and fill in the blanks through the lens of our own moment, our own time.

As the summer season progresses, your list of things to see and do should include this exhibition at the gallery, and lively and thoughtful discussions about these works with the TrépanierBaer team. We look forward to seeing you!

Assemblages – Remnants and Reclamations #41, 2018
Mixed media, found objects
11” x 9” – Framed