Through Thick & Thin | Eric Cameron & Deborah Margo | September 4 to October 1, 2009

Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 2.22.03 PM.png

Through Thick and Thin pairs works that, upon the surface, appear to be two sides of the same coin, a Doppelgänger coincidence, kissin’ cousins that threaten the embarrassment of turning up at a party wearing identical outfits. In the end, it is not their many outer physical similarities that delight and reward their coupling. Instead, we revel the opportunity to contemplate works from a related start head off in polar directions, night and day, same only different. An “Iron Chef” showdown with the mystery ingredient: candy.

Both artists lavish attention upon unlikely objects of affection. Their tributes are not targeted at the elaborate figurative chocolatey creations or the bejeweled decorative inventions of the master confectioner’s art. They choose to transform the plain-Jane, ordinary, gumball, gumdrop and licorice-all-sort into eye candy. Simple spheres, ovoid and lumpen shapes are the common foundation. In this way, both extend the dialogue with a taste for a post-minimalist palette. They invoke procedures taken from the post-conceptualists cookbook by utilizing grids, structure and strategies to impose rational order upon an unruly organic process. They coax the extraordinary from the ordinary and reveal secret pleasures to be found by giving new consideration to things ostensibly mundane that we over-look within our workaday surrounds.

To commence their process, both artists subject their oral treats to a physical alteration (or degradation) from food product to food for thought. A course of action is selected upon, and then enacted unwaveringly through to its conclusion, logical, illogical or otherwise. The artists faithfully accept the visual consequences generated as outcome of the pre-determined action plan, an entropic process that accrues over the passage of time allowing the forces of nature (or human nature) to make of it what it will.

Cameron methodically paints each candy drop with layers of gesso, alternating between white and gray. After thousands of applications the original form is subsumed within its new burgeoning, larger outer shell (is this candy-coated art?). These are 2009 ‘new releases’ of Cameron’s ongoing 1970s project: The Thick Paintings, (to be continued). As a veteran of this form of enterprise, Cameron may now be better able to envisage how he might suspect a selected object will transform through its coating. Given this, one might imagine that these tiny sweets proffer meager prospects for significant transmogrification, or do they?

Margo slices, abrades and dissolves giant jawbreakers and Okeydoke candies with various liquids, solutions and methodologies. Effectively she reveals the under-painting of the original, and through the process, creates an outcome that simulates geometric art of the mid-twentieth Century: from Noland to Gene Davis, Claude Tousignant and beyond. They are her own Duchampian readymade Rotoreliefs: one might say her veritable 'Standard Gobstoppage'. As consequence of her complex set of interventions she exposes the sedimentary layers of flavourful colours that many a transfixed youngster must experience only through the passage of time as each successive layer is savoured away to reveal the next. The variety of actions taken and their consequent aesthetic results are as mesmerizing as the manufacturer’s bizarre impulse to make a candy so large that you can’t consume or ingest it. Others virtually explode into expressionistic disarray, a chemistry experiment run amuck. Despite their prosaic source, they generate objects of great beauty, subtle pastel colours and huge variety of shape and configuration. They reveal a sensibility that respects the tradition of the well-crafted object, refined, understated and dignified.

Margo’s art impresses us with its elegance, refinement and gaiety of spirit. Cameron’s suckers are borderline nasty. His work appeals to another side of Duchamp’s box of treasures, they induce recollection of marble sugar cubes, his sexually provocative wedges and intellectual-philosophical gamesmanship, the mind-tickle of “With Hidden Noise”. Cameron is the over-painter, layer upon layer, obsessive obliterations, a self-imposed ritual corrective to expunge the transgressions of oral fixations and fancied gratifications. Liquor is quicker; but candy is dandy.

Jeffrey Spalding, 2009