Curated by Lucy Bilson
Featuring works by Barbara Astman, Walter Bachinski, Susan Coolen, Michael Flomen, John Hofstetter, Thomas Lax, Ron Martin, David Rifat, Michael Snow, Douglas Walker, Joyce Weiland, and Ossip Zadkine
“I have never been very interested in pushing the limits of legibility for its own sake. Absolute clarity, or extreme distortion, is too simplistic a goal… I wanted to explore the complex possibilities that lie somewhere in between.” — Jeffery Keedy, Graphic Design in the Postmodern Era (1998)
Legibility refers to our ability to clearly see what is before us: specifically, the quality of being clear enough to read. It is underpinned by the desire to communicate with clarity and avoid misinterpretation. But what does it mean for an artwork to be legible? Is it intertwined with representation and abstraction, our understanding of the artist’s intentions, or something else? This exhibition of works from the Permanent Collection explores questions of completeness, visually ambiguous forms, and the communication of the intangible.
Layered and merging planes, visual distortion, and repeating images are just some of the formal techniques employed to translate intangible thoughts between artist and viewer. Susan Coolen’s Parochial Views No. 6: Parlance #4 presents a tension between equivalent legible and illegible forms, whereas Ron Martin’s Untitled is a ghost — the marks that remain after the painting medium has evaporated. Even when intentional or obvious, illegibility embraces the fragility of the unknown and creates works which seem unfixed, in flux, and open to conversation.
Illegibility offers interesting opportunities for the viewer to contemplate or complete works in their mind, without explicit direction from the artist. It is an invitation to insert oneself into the narrative of the work and to find possibilities in moments of ambiguity
Lucy Bilson is a designer, researcher, and educator working at the periphery of contemporary graphic design practice. In addition to operating Lucy Bilson Design, Lucy’s creative practice explores the interdisciplinary space between design and art, often using her work to contest the boundaries of contemporary practice.
This Corridor Gallery exhibition is kindly supported by Activa.
David Rifat (Canadian, b. Scotland 1934). One Tulip Doesn't Seem Much, 1974. Serigraph (silk screen), 66.3cm x 84.1cm. Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery Collection. Gift of the Ontario Arts Council, 1975. © KWAG. Photo: KWAG.