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Monday, November 07, 2005

Tiny Builders

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Accretion 6, encaustic on wood, John Drew Munro

Tiny Builders is the title of a new solo exhibition of paintings by John Drew Munro. His pieces, like "Accretion 6" (shown above), inhabit a space between two worlds: they are paintings, but the way colour and texture have been applied is far from a typical brushstroke technique. Thousands of dots scatter onto his canvases in a way that suggests something more like printmaking than painting. For Tiny Builders, Munro used a workmanlike reductive technique: he went at layers of beeswax with drills and chisels and then reapplied more wax to fill the voids left by his tools. The result offers depth similar to inlaid glass tiles with suspended globules or flecks of glitter. Other times the materials protrude from the canvas and suggest sculptural relief.

But not only is the medium a bit of a hybrid. There is also an interesting relationship between science and his art. Conjuring up images of solar systems - but also at times microscopic single-celled organisms, colour blindness tests and psychiatric ink blots - Munro's dots illustrate the world of scientific discovery. They are the builders of the exhibit's title, a reference to the small specks (atoms) that combine to create the reality around us.

Notes from the exhibition explain how old high school textbooks inspired Munro, and when you take a closer look at the Accretion Disc series, it's a lesson in astrophysics. The astronomical sense of the term “accretion” describes how matter is pulled into a body (such as a black hole) as it spins. This idea is the show's central conceit: "The wax surface becomes a form of solid light," Munro writes, "while the dots may be considered as matter constructing itself." Nietzsche wrote that treating science as art makes humankind more comfortable with its knowledge of the world. And Einstein could be seen as an artist whom Nature enlists to convey her works. Munro’s work is in line with those lofty and, at times, celestial ideas.

Tiny Builders opened this past weekend at the McClure Gallery and will run until November 26.


Blogger Ruby Shoes said...

Fascinating! I would love to see this guy's work!

I am thinking of coming to visit next weekend (Nov. 18-20). Is that good for you? May invite the bf, which means we will have to stay elsewhere...


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