Off the Grid: Barry Allikas, Rachel Crummey, Lewis & Taggart

6 June - 6 July 2024

McBride Contemporain is delighted to present Off the Grid, a group exhibition showcasing the works of artists Barry Allikas, Rachel Crummey, and artist duo Lewis & Taggart.

The grid armature has been among the most common and dominant compositional strategies in modern and contemporary art, the go-to underpinning of visual organization for movements as disparate as cubist figuration and all-over abstraction. It can be claimed as a central symbol of art in our time. It is also commonly understood to represent society as such, a synecdoche for civilization and its industrial energy network, “The Grid”. Conversely, to be “off the grid” has come to mean to be an outsider, deliberately outside of convention and potentially even modernity per se. As such, the phrase carries significant social power, and a certain tongue in cheek humour, a wise joke, a knowing element of critique and protest.

Barry Allikas’ hard-edge paintings have been playing on and off of grids for decades, always finding an original manner of re-expressing, and advancing the ideals and goals of post-painterly abstraction with grid-based compositional implications. In his current series of surprising and expansive new large paintings, the spirit of improv shines bright as their off-grids playfully subvert the overly serious and orthodox versions of hard-edge abstraction’s addiction to what we can call the “cult of the grid”.

Rachel Crummey’s practice is well-suited to paying homage to the grid and to challenging it fundamentally, in image, material, and aesthetic framework. Folding painting, drawing, sculpture, and even, in a sense, gardening and foraging into her practice, Crummey has challenged the traditional grid of acknowledged materials artists might use in a “painting” or any artwork. The subtle compositions and earthy beauty of her Reishi Mycelium pieces speak to the irregular grids organically found in natural settings.

Lewis & Taggart‘s precise, rhythmic and additive sculptures make use of multiple kinds of virtuosically worked wood, and reference furniture, signage, and other functional objects. Existing as both contemporary sculptures and functional coat hooks, the artworks featured in the exhibition play with concepts of individuality and collectivity, which generate a sense of inquiry and curiosity. While those original, mass-produced objects would certainly be considered “on the grid”, these hybridized artworks carry an opposing electrical charge with respect to their starting-point objects.

To be off the grid is to become a syncopated beat, creatively outside the norm, a jazzy improvisation. This exhibition looks at a group of artists who are forward-thinking in their approach to aesthetic methods and modes of inquiry, examining the implications and consequences of existence within and outside of known structures, beyond established boundaries.

Œuvres sélectionnées
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