Piles of BarbarismMatthew O'Reilly
February 5 @ 10:00 am - April 2 @ 4:00 pm
Closed Sundays & Mondays
Piles of Barbarism continues Matthew O’Reilly’s longstanding interrogation of the self. In linguistics a barbarism is a nonstandard word, expression, or pronunciation that arises when two or more languages collide. In this case, something that initially appears as a mistake transforms through struggle and negotiation to break with tradition to generate new words, ideas, and ways of knowing. O’Reilly is also interested in the creative potential of inner conflict. Many of the sculptures in this exhibition pile ceramic heads upon heads to contradict the idea of “self” as a homogeneous and singular thing that we express agency over. Rather, O’Reilly wonders if a person is best conceptualized as a collection of competing selves that want and need different things.
The idea of the singular, autonomous self has roots in Western enlightenment thinking, but differs greatly from many cultural traditions that grapple with the question “who am I?” Throughout his work, O’Reilly explores facets of the human condition, including ideas of connectedness, wholeness, and identity. He writes “I am particularly concerned with subverting sculptural embodiments of masculinity. I employ the grotesque in my armoury of satire to rupture the boundaries of what we know. I do this by dissecting the body into distorted fragments that come back together to solicit curiosity and repulsion. I aim to make reflexive work that pushes, pulls, and complicates dialogues around identity.”
Working in ceramics and sculpture, O’Reilly ponders sculptural questions through figurative objects; how does the meaning change when one stacks, piles, places close, further away? What is our relationship to the miniature and the monumental? How do we relate to ourselves and how does this affect the way we relate to each other?
The works in Piles of Barbarism were created, beginning in September 2021, during Matthew’s current residency at Medalta in Medicine Hat’s Historic Clay District. This exhibition is organized by Leighton Art Centre with funding support from the Government of Canada, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and Calgary Arts Development.
Closing Day: April 2, 2022 | 10 am – 4 pm
Working between ceramics and sculpture, my studio practice uses the sculpted figure as a launching pad for conversation about the human condition. I am particularly concerned with subverting sculptural embodiments of masculinity, and exploring the tension between the collective and individuals. I employ the grotesque in my armoury of satire in order to rupture the boundaries of what we ‘know’. I do this by dissecting the body into distorted fragments that come back together to solicit curiosity and repulsion. I aim to make reflexive work that pushes, pulls, and complicates dialogues around identity. Ceramics, metal working, readymades paint and plaster processes are used as sites for intuitive investigation of the body.
Learn more about Matthew O’Reilly: www.mattheworeilly.ca
Photo by Leandra Brandson.