May 23 - July 24, 2009
With the work in this exhibition we enter the sumptuous and disturbed beauty of Fiona Kinsella’s richly crafted cakes and luscious paintings.
For the past several years, Kinsella, a Hamilton-based artist, has created mixed media work in the form of elaborate, special-event-like cakes. The rich icing is immediately recognizable as sweetly shaped sugar, but the ingredients veer away from the predictable with troubling effect; one work is described as being made of “royal icing, skull, brass, blue eyes, glass, stones, hair of a small child, apparition, music, wings, gold, beads of light, dove coloured rhinestones, earrings, white roses, wood, redpath, fondant icing.”
Embedded within the culturally conservative form of the cake we find birds and teeth and human hair, artifacts that might be collected by a pack rat or a slightly unsettled young child. These objects tug at individual memories we all have that are so common they begin to blend into a collective, social memory. Past celebrations, rites of passage and misplaced collectibles are fused into objects that are at once appealing and repulsive. We want to turn away, like we do from the junk drawer of our long buried mistakes and regrets, but in the works that Kinsella presents to us we are allowed to bathe in the sentimental goo.
Recently, Kinsella has moved from bricolage to pure painting. Square canvases are slathered with oil paint swirling in patterns that suggest a bed of roses, the horticultural equivalent of the wedding cake. Although less quixotic, the ambiguous floral images seem to be emerging from a dense cloud of forgetting, signaling at least the possibility of meaning.