words by Jadynn Wolff
edited by Adam Fraser
165 Hastings has been an independent art space and artist-run centre for the past 2 years. Formerly named Avenue, the space (where we first came to know Maya Gulin’s work) has found a new identity as A4. Gulin showcased their inaugural exhibition A Significant Order, a series of triadic abstractions painted on birch-ply and paper.
3 distinct groupings inhabit the space; each one considers consistency in scale and form. The smallest-scale grouping—abstract paintings on standard 8.5"x11” paper hung with bull-dog clips—is overwhelmed by its grander counterparts, calling the question of conception. Though the paper works hold true in painterly style, to the body of the exhibition, their significance is debatable. It’s possible it was a deliberate decision to make the work blatantly modest, but the intention does not come through definitively enough to engage the viewer at the same level of the larger, more imposing, pieces.
Gulin captivates the audience with florid explosions of limited colour and limitless possibility in amorphous shapes suggesting familiar form—a shark, an ultra-sound, a man with his dog. A massive 5' x 3' grid of door-skin panels hang on the dominant wall. Similar in quality to a polyptych though, the individual panels are easily perceived as singular pieces. The aggressive, gestural paintings are fortified by their common tension. It is not the material that maintains our attention, but the content and the ideas brought forward. Regardless their substrate, paper or ply, both subjects are aligned in the contrast found between Gulin’s private demeanour and the work’s emotional-restraint.
A Significant Order is an experience beyond its title; it is a conversation held by Gulin, exploring the terrain of self-identity in a public domain, holding her own character in reserve. This inexorable feeling of control and balance is sustained by a composite of opposing values but is left to discernment. Gulin’s art and style has maintained steady bearings since—and before—her earlier work at Avenue, leaving a desire for a new position within unexplored territory as she moves forward.
Photography provided by Jadynn Wolff, lesartefact.com