Sandra Meigs: Strange Loop
Curated by Diana Nemiroff
27 April – 14 June 2009
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CUAG’s contribution to the B.C. Scene festival organized by the National Arts Centre is an exhibition of recent, large-scale paintings of architectural interiors by Victoria-based artist Sandra Meigs. The show’s title refers to the idea that the world outside the mind and the subjective world of the “I” are in fact joined, coming together as a “strange loop” in what we understand as consciousness.
Meigs’ sources for the paintings are the drawings she did inside several Shingle Style mansions that she visited in Newport, Rhode Island. The Shingle Style brought order and unity to vernacular wood-frame construction, emerging as an authentic American architectural style and precursor to modernist architecture in the 1880s. The interior design of the mansions focused on the entrance, which usually included a welcoming hearth and a grand stairway ascending to the private chambers of the residence. Virtuosity in detail gave these pivotal entrances an enchanting quality, while the play of light on the surfaces of the open chamber throughout the course of the day integrated the exterior with the interior space.
Meigs approaches the underlying psychological dimension she detects in these spaces with the signature comic gestalt that has been at the core of her work throughout her career. She thus encourages the viewer’s recognition to shift constantly between the paintings’ formal aspects and their content. Using a soft grey colour scale to hint at the works’ cerebral analogies, she renders the illusionistic vertical and horizontal dimensions of the interiors, with their stairways ascending or descending into deeper spaces, in linear perspective. Though they initially appear empty, these complex interiors play host to many ghost-like entities, who joyfully or despondently gaze back at the viewers, drawing us into their strange loop.