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Susan Menzies, Thistle Dubh

Susan Menzies, Thistle Dubh (2015), oil on canvas [Stride Art Gallery,
Calgary AB, Oct 23-Nov 27]

Susan Menzies: Hare and Thistle

Stride Art Gallery
Calgary AB – Oct 23-Nov 27, 2015

As painting continues its 40,000-year journey from Spain’s El Castillo cave, representations of nature continue to dominate surfaces large and small. Only recently, with the ubiquity of digital technologies, has this journey detoured from Modernism’s ever-narrowing path to graze in fields opened up by the everything-is-equal Internet. Now when there is talk of painting, the tendency is to highlight the painter’s material instincts over the history of how the medium can be improved upon.

As a painting professor at the Alberta College of Art and Design, Susan Menzies is well versed in art history and fluent in painting’s many styles. Her most recent work begins not with marks made toward representations of nature, but with meditations on the process by which these representations are “moved into domestic spaces.” And so, in addition to surfaces that hold pigment, Menzies gives us patches of floral wallpaper, some of which she has embellished in an effort to integrate them into the larger picture.

In recognizing that humankind’s first paintings appeared in caves, Menzies’s canvases remind us that caves were our homes long before they became museums.


Michael Turner

 Sun, Nov 8, 2015