You Can Do It! (wall installation approximately 65" x 27": Toothpicks, safety matches)
You Can Do It! (Detail)
I love this Wilson installation for its quirky Boy Scout humour, and equally, for the obvious patience and process. Viewed close, the work brings to mind a polynomial equation graphed in 3-d. In fact, mathematics and modularity are important underlying concepts in his practice. His first degree was in mathematics and biology, but at the age of 26, an encounter in Toronto with a large scale temporary architectural intervention by Tadashi Kawamata had a profound impact.
Kawamata's Colonial Tavern Park installation, Toronto, 1989.
A few years later, Wilson left his position as a zookeeper, and enrolled at Ontario College of Art.
Wilson made art, but primarily worked as a graphic designer for a number of years. The art he created during this period was concerned with letter forms and print. The influence of his design background remains obvious in "You Can Do It!". However, his encounter with Kawamata remained as a strong subconscious motivator. The urge to create conceptual work led him to an M.F.A at York U., which he completed in 2008.
In his new three-dimensional pieces, Wilson's diverse interests and expertise come together in a a beautiful and astonishing way. These biomorphic forms are constructed of modular 6-point elements, which aggregate in a random yet predictable fashion. They are temporal and fragile, but as sturdy as the Golden Gate Bridge. The obsessive hands-on process requires the contribution of other artists and friends to bring each work to completion.
"mediumorangeyellow": toothpicks, flocking approximately 16"x 21"
The more time an artist spends in the digital world, the more the desire to work with the senses, and with a co-operative, actual, real-time social group of like-minded souls.
Jay Wilson's words:
"Lately I’ve been working on labour-intensive works that involve hand-gluing thousands of toothpicks together. I invite assistants to come and help me in the studio. We chat, build and listen to music. I like to engage in one thing so that I can think about another.
My process-based practice uses convenience, play, mistakes, logic and intuition, pattern and colour, and juxtaposition. The work is complex in arrangement, involves changes in composition, scope and tempo of process. It is both highly structured and developmentally random. It is complexity and the lack of hierarchy that is the work’s thrust and provokes questions as opposed to declaring answers, definitive statements of central themes."
These works are on the cusp of something. I do not know what. But I am determined to follow Wilson's career. Watch and wait.
Jay Wilson: New Sculptures
A.K. Collings Gallery
April 23 to May 17, 2009