You may remember Zachary Cummings from his crime scene paintings in issue 12. Cummings is now painting on transparent glass surfaces in an attempt to simulate a visual conflation of illusion and reality. Cummings believes that using this medium creates an imagery that lies somewhere between the deconstruction of the world and the creation of a new language. If you don’t understand what that might mean, you can go and see Cummings’ work at his ongoing exhibition entitled Mind the Gap showing at No Foundation until June 28th.
A reading of two different versions of Poussin’s Et in Arcadia Ego informs the content of his show. Cummings’ believes that Poussin’s work demonstrates the awareness of a painting’s embodiment of meaning. In Poussin’s first version (1627), a skull that functions as a symbol of death appears above an inscription that reads, “I am also in Arcadia.” The second version (1637-38) is more subtle and complex. Without the skull, death is left unpersonified. Within the idyllic landscape, the only hint of darkness is the shadow of the figure who reads the inscription. In this second version, the symbol of death is inherent in the picture, but a gap persists between the shadow as image and the shadow as symbol. The paintings in Mind the Gap express this desire to picture the gap between signifier and signified.
Most of Cumming’s works are painted from found 35mm slides of ancient Roman ruins. Just as the painted glass surfaces cast their own shadows, the slides serve a dual purpose of being pictures in-and-of-themselves and transmitters of another image. While all paintings are sensitive to placement and light, the glass paintings lay these relationships bare. The space between the painted marks and the cast shadows changes depending on the position of the viewer and the light source. The painted marks are colorful, permanent and lie on the surface, while the shadows are monochromatic, mutable, and lie behind the surface. Cummings’ believes these glass paintings function as a form of analogy, imitating an ostensible duality concerning the mutability of perception. Mind the Gap is on exhibition at No Foundation, 1082 Queens Street West Toronto until June 28th.
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