Story and photos by Jenessa Blanchet
Acclaimed Canadian sculptor Blake Ward has brought to Calgary a collection of figurative monuments to the innate and raw beauty of humanity in all of its flawed perfection and unseen being. His solo exhibition, Relevant Space, currently showing at The Collectors’ Gallery of Art, is an experience to be thoughtfully and voraciously consumed.
This collection of bronze masterworks contests the previous constraints of a medium that has enchanted audiences since the third millennium B.C. Each striking piece a magnificent ode to human existence, independent yet cohesively linked to others in a shared space. In taking in this body of work, the stage has been set for us to look beneath the surface; not simply to extend our visual reach inside of Ward’s pieces, which leave the interior exposed to the viewer, but to stretch deeper within ourselves in order to complete the intentionally fractional forms.
The romantic and poetic undertone of this exhibit conjures up words such as ethereal, introspective, liquid and wistful as they intertwine themselves in the viewer’s head whilst the mind takes in the subtly of each piece’s implied movement and organic like edifice. These incantations, formed in bronze, invite the observer to contemplate the negative space that they gracefully present before us; stoic vessels for us to fill with our own interpretations and exclusive, internal dialogue. What one may pour into the void is not the same as the next. What one sees before them another does not. What one creates as a story in their mind another does not – and so on and so on. Life after life, figure after figure, piece after piece, the completed construct is in the eye of the beholder.
With each work transfixed within a varied movement, as you make your way through the showing, there is a distinct sense that you are centre stage in the midst of a lyrical dance; as though when you momentarily remove your eyes, Ward’s pieces somehow elegantly shift to provide you with an altered perspective of their interior and exterior layers.
The narrative that silently echoes through the perfectly curated gallery space is that which defines humanity; a cohesive amalgamation of harmony and discord. We are complete in our incompleteness, always in a fixed state of movement, fragmented between the seen and the unseen and exposed yet occluded. Our imperfections are constantly on display for the world to see, yet only recognizable as such if one were to classify them as imperfections in the first place. This body of work appears to quietly ask the question, “Are we perfectly imperfect?”
Ward set out to do what bronze has never done before; he set out to expose its interior and let it move, both literally and figuratively, before our very eyes. He has accomplished this, and so much more, and in doing so has extended an approachable and intoxicating invitation to join him in elevating this ancient artistic medium from a classically rigid structure to an otherworldly, fully awake experience indicative of the age of mindfulness we find ourselves in today.
Relevant Space continues through Thursday, June 24 at The Collectors’ Gallery of Art in Inglewood. Gallery hours can be found at http://collectorsgalleryofart.com/