January 24, 2020 - Esker Foundation - Katie Ohe
January 24, 2020

Esker Foundation

Katie Ohe, Venetian Puddle, 1977–78. Installation view at Griffin Art Projects, Vancouver. Courtesy of the artist and Herringer Kiss Gallery, Calgary. Photo: Byron Dauncey.

Katie Ohe
January 25–May 3, 2020

Esker Foundation
4th floor, 1011 9th Avenue, SE
Calgary Alberta T2G 0H7
Hours: Wednesday–Saturday 11am–5:30pm

T +1 403 930 2490

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For over 60 years, Katie Ohe has been a catalyzing force in Calgary, Alberta's art community as an artist, mentor, teacher, supporter, and builder. As one of Alberta’s most important artistic figures, she has made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary art in the province and her innovative approaches to material, form, movement, and participation have been a meaningful influence for generations.

This eponymous exhibition—her largest and most comprehensive solo exhibition to date—traces the development of work through six decades of Ohe’s remarkable sculptural practice, from early small-scale sculptures concerned with articulations of the figure; to her break from anatomical structures into abstraction; intricately engineered large-scale kinetic forms; floor-based works concerned with the interrelationship of form, space, and movement; to a brand new series of modular sculptures. Shown alongside this body of work is a selection of objects from Ohe’s material archive—maquettes, sketches, studies, and small works—that illuminate her ongoing research and processes of material experimentation, formal problem solving, and her continuum of thought.

Ohe is perhaps best known for her masterful kinetic sculptures. Beginning in the early 1970s, after much thought and experimentation with ways to rise above familiar heavy and static sculptural forms to achieve a sense of weightlessness, dynamism, fluidity, and optical confusion, Ohe perceived that changes in sculptural configuration through movement coupled with a viewer’s physical and physiological interaction would be essential in realizing these goals. The quality of surface also became inextricably important to the success of her sculptures; works such as Venetian Puddle (1977–78), and Zipper (1975) were chromed and polished to a perfect, seductive smoothness, which would, as Ohe remarks, “induce or provoke touch before you think that you really shouldn’t.”

Movement introduces an integral element to the space within and surrounding Ohe's sculptures, which in turn influences the perception of their form. Combinations of undulating, spiralling, fluidly shimmering and reflective shapes generate a sense of visual instability and optical uncertainty—and also a sense of humour and playfulness—which makes the viewer and their experience an essential part of the work.

Although they appear simple and minimal, each of Ohe’s works is extremely labour intensive and technically precise. Their creation often involves years of experimentation, trial and error, engineering, and fabrication to create the correct effect and affect through movement. Her sculptures have agency; they are active, vital, and compel you to touch them. Ohe’s work reminds us that seeing is not the only form of perceiving our environment; that the relationship among the visual, physical, poetic, and psychological compose a way of knowing the world rooted in comprehensive and intellectual challenge and disruption.

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Upcoming in the Project Space:

Anna Gustafson
Object Lessons

February 3–April 19
Presented in partnership with The New Gallery

Further information: www.eskerfoundation.art

View and download the 2020 winter brochure

About Esker Foundation
Esker Foundation is a privately funded contemporary art gallery located in Calgary, Canada. The gallery connects the public to contemporary art through relevant, accessible, and educational exhibitions, programs, and publications. Esker reflects on current developments in local, regional, and international culture; creates opportunities for public dialogue; and supports the production of ground-breaking new work, ideas, and research. Founded in 2012 by Jim and Susan Hill, Esker Foundation is a new model for institutional relevance, curatorial focus, and audience engagement. Admission is free.

Press contact: Jill Henderson, Communications and Marketing
Esker Foundation, T 1 403 930 2499 / jhenderson [​at​] eskerfoundation.com

Esker Foundation
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