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Moira Dryer

3 December – 4 February 2001

Moira Dryer was born in Toronto in 1957 and moved to New York in the late seventies. After graduating from the School of Visual Arts there she stayed in New York and eventually had solo shows at the John Good Gallery and then at the Mary Boone Gallery. She died of breast cancer in 1992 at the age of thirty-four. Her work was shown in 1993 in the Museum of Modern Art's Projects space. The present exhibition is the first solo presentation of her art since then. It focuses on work made during the final three years of her life, on a body of work that indisputably confirms Dryer as one of the leading American painters of her generation.

Dryer's achievement was to reinvest abstraction with personal feeling and emotion and to restore to it an expressivity that encompasses the objectivity of minimal and conceptual art. In contrast to the art of many of her colleagues, Dryer's is largely free of irony. It marks a refreshing and liberating departure from the overweening cleverness and self consciousness that prevailed during the eighties in New York. Her art is personal yet alludes to multiple public themes and concerns. Generally, complex emotions that evoke the tenor of our times are the impetus for her work. Her art is extravagant and thoughtful: by turns, exuberant, angry, humorous, witty, poignant and ever uncertain. Its sensual candor and emotional generosity, scope and resilience contribute to its natural and warm character. Whatever its mood or subject, Dryer's art is always engaging, both physically and imaginatively. Dryer conceived of and spoke of her pictures as theatrical props that set a scene or tell stories grounded in real experiences. These stories are rendered abstractly and poetically, leaving us free to imagine their sense on our own terms.

Dryer's early work consists mainly of dark landscapes and abstract portraits. These two subjects run through and often coincide in her subsequent work. This thematic conjuncture is reflected in her art's involvement with physical process and in its probing psychological realism. The urbanity of Dryer's art is matched by its simple, ingenuous spirit and its romantic appreciation of the rawness and untamed splendour of nature.

Support for this project has been provided by the Judith Rothschild Foundation, New York, the Henry N.R. Jackman Foundation, Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada.
Art Gallery of York University | Accolade East Building, 4700 Keele Street | Toronto ON M3J 1P3 | agyu [at]