Jill Ho-You at The New Gallery, Calgary
Delicate and precise.
Destruction on a catastrophic level.
Experimental cells devouring the veil between nature and industry.
These are elements that emerge in The New Gallery exhibition Inversion by Calgary artist Jill Ho-You. The printmaker and professor at Alberta College of Art and Design brings together the formal art of intaglio and chin collé in printmaking with the degradation of materials over time due to their interaction with organic and animal materials both literally and metaphorically.
Jill Ho-You, In The Dust I, 2015
Featured in the exhibition are petri dishes with tiny specimen-like drawings of different embodiments of industrial materials: snippets of bridges, beams, and concrete buildings. Included with these is live bacterial culture that will slowly degrade or change the artwork housed within the petri dish. Similar to specimen collections, these tiny artworks act as specimens of culture that is no longer sustainable.
Ho-You’s intricately etched prints envision a world in ruin, but not from natural disaster. Instead, buildings collapse and collide, sinuous bone fragments disintegrate into the territory we stand on, and earthly organic materials metamorphoses around the broken down, dilapidated remains of contemporary civilization. These works envision our world as we know it through an evolution – or rather devolution – of time and matter. As the world seemingly crumbles these works attempt to forecast a future where Mother Nature reigns powerful and true again as organic matter takes over, pursuing the ultimately and timely demise of technology and construction. In our current political climate and in consideration of climate change and the degradation of the natural atmosphere, Ho-You’s exhibition is timely and apt. Using the traditional art form of intaglio printmaking further emphasizes a world where technology has eroded and we must return to early forms of technological advancement.
Maeve Hanna is a writer and curator who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours in Visual Art and Literature from York University and the University of Leeds and a Master of Arts in Art History and Icelandic Studies from Université du Québec à Montréal and the University of Manitoba on location in Iceland. She has previously written for Black Flash, C Magazine, Canadian Art, esse arts + opinions, Frieze, Sculpture Magazine and the Senses and Society. She is Akimblog’s Calgary correspondent and can be followed on Instagram @mcbchanna.