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Mark Adair
From November 29th 1986 to December 20th 1986
Toronto Bank Robbery, Twister, Helen and the Choker

In April 85, the sculptor Mark Adair exhibited two important pieces in Toronto. These two works however were quite dissimilar, as much as in structure, as in content and medium. Toronto Bank Robbery (1984) borrows the form of the Stations of the Cross: a wood carved series accompanied with texts in the staging of a bank robbery. Whereas Twister (1985) is a large wall piece made of plaster depicting, in profound relief, a tornado overhanging a landscape, both urban and rural. These are the two works to be presented at Optica, together with a new piece, Helen and the Choker (1986), made of two small scenes, also in wood relief with texts, but used in a more poetical and allegorical purpose.

Seen in relation to the first two pieces, this one reveals and reinforces the underlying coherence of Adair’s previous works. Helen and the Choker incorporates both the opposition between scared and profane, that is effective in Toronto Bank Robbery, and the opposition between humanity and nature prevalent in Twister. Putting the human figure ‘in suspension’ between the earth and the sky, literally and metaphorically, Helen and the Choker introduces us to what can be considered as a kind of cosmology. In this way, the three pieces can thus be seen, to a certain extent, as questioning the relationship of the human being with the world and the universe, from the multiple points of view of the social, the natural, the sacred and even the metaphysical. This preoccupation appears in the representation of passion and veneration, as in Toronto Bank Robbery (1), the one of the confrontation with the uncontrolled forces of nature, as in Twister (1), or, more generally, the one of human conduct, as in Helen and the Choker

The structure of the materials appears strongly coherent as well, even if Twister seems at first very different with its huge format and its absence of text and narrative. This piece seems to mark a hesitation in the sculptural research, a partial return to earlier preoccupations. In fact it also participates in the projection of the pictorial image in three-dimensional space, or rather in the exploration of this intermediary zone, which goes from the low-relief to the small scene where the space deepens and the figures clearly detach themselves from the background. This is especially apparent if we know that Twister was accompanied with many similar works, of smaller format, hung on the wall in “open boxes”…
- Press release (Optica)
- (1) cf Parachute 41, Winter 85, Vanguard, Fall 85, and the Globe & Mail, April 12th, 85