Alison Wilding
12 February – 5 April 1998

Alison Wilding came to prominence in the early 1980s as part of the diverse group of artists labelled New British Sculptors. Her work has been widely exhibited internationally, and in Canada she has been included in the group exhibitions, All that Matters (Art Gallery of Windsor, 1988) and Objects in Advance of the Concept (Burnaby Art Gallery, 1995). The current exhibition, Territories, organized in collaboration with The Edmonton Art Gallery, marks Wilding's first solo presentation in this country. Territories features new works produced between 1995 and 1997, and encompasses wall sculptures, floor works, and drawings.

Alison Wilding's work is recognized by its strong emphasis on surface and materials, its juxtaposition of elements, and its acknowledgement of the body as a primary site of meaning. With a firm rooting in abstraction, and only the slightest of figural referents, Wilding's objects turn their direct use of materials and processes to unmistakably metaphorical ends. Her works' distinct forms and lush materiality invite bodily associations while avoiding any literal appeal to imagery. Hers is a highly original sculptural language that merges the physical, the psychic and the philosophical.

Beyond the dimension of embodiment, this exhibition draws attention to the way Alison WildingÍs works function as territories. They compose maps of mental states, discrete spaces, thresholds between interior and exterior, passages that join and divide. Wilding uses space not as empty backdrop but as an active agent in the structuring of experience.

Here juxtapositions and encounters set up relations between differences. In the Brain Drawings series, such juxtaposition is achieved through the layering of elements; in the wall-based sculptures, through a fusion of disparate components; and in the Carpet series through internal differentiation within a unary field. The relational dynamic of her work offers intriguing poetic analogies for how we might think of our own internal self-differences and our negotiations of shared social and psychic space.

In the 1980s, during the height of 'deconstructive' photo- and textual-based approaches to art production, Wilding's work ventured in a different direction, one which anticipated many of the questions--of embodiment, affect and other aspects of sensate existence--that are such a preoccupation in art today. Her work, with its compelling combination of rigor and subtlety, continues to offer a model of particular pertinence to the work being developed by a new generation of artists. Alison Wilding's art stands as both a precedent (linking contemporary tendencies to earlier models of the late sixties and early seventies) and a thoroughly current practice--one of unusual elegance of form, philosophical depth and erotic power.

Organized in collaboration with The Edmonton Art Gallery. Produced with the assistance of The Canada Council Touring Office.

An informal discussion between Renee Baert, Guest Curator of the Territories exhibition, and Alison Wilding will take place during the opening reception. Curator and artist will discuss Wilding's work in the context of the exhibition.
Art Gallery of York University | Accolade East Building, 4700 Keele Street | Toronto ON M3J 1P3 | agyu [at]