I can’t believe we‘re weeks away from coming full circle to another Art Basel Miami and the fair-mania that goes with the territory. It was at the Untitled fair that I set eyes on Canadian-based artist Jonathan Scott at the Katharine Mulherin booth. I was intrigued by Scott’s wafer-thin self-contained sculptures of gold gilded book covers propped up in a Serra-esquely manner, along with a series of black gessoed mirrored wall hangings that lured viewers into obliteration. The works were intimate, poised with quiet confidence and exuded a stately elegance. In fact, art critic David Balzer of Canadian Art cited Scott’s work as “gorgeous.” So until now, I kept an eye open for Jonathan’s next show.
Jonathan Scott – Monument 18: Three Judges (detail) paperback book covers, gesso, bole, 22 karat gold, tinted glass Photo Credit: Mulherin Gallery
Early this month, Mulherin opened Jonathan’s new show “The Policy Makers” at her Toronto outpost that features a mix of Scott’s thought-provoking sculptures, including a handful of print works – a first for the artist. According to the release:
Who are the policy makers? What is their abject future? Do they reflect our will to see or are they the agents that shape it?
Imagining the possible figures that will take humanity into the future, Scott presents a collection of sculptures and prints that invite speculation. Is the divide between the visible and invisible a site for resistance?
Additionally, I connected with Jonathan who shared, “The stacked or mirrored sculptures continue my love of the world turned upside down. The principle concerns behind the new print works are about the will to see and the freedom of the image, mixed with the idea of the public and private issues.
While I’ve known Katharine for years, it threw me off a bit to see Jonathan’s conceptual works part of her strong painting and drawing program. So after seeing Jonathan’s sculptures at Untitled (which I believe sold out), it was an unexpected surprise and I was curious to know what she saw in Jonathan’s work, of which she shared…
“Jonathan conveys his ideas with extreme consideration. His dedication to craftsmanship is evident in the work, without overtaking the concept.
He reflects on societal and social structures and their incongruities through a very precise visual language. His delicately crafted works draw the viewer into a thoughtful institutional critique, where the artist both literally and figuratively flips various societal constructs on their side to get a closer look. For me, this is the hook. The fragility, the message, and even the beauty of the work all gel into a potent and seductive object. The work at once encompasses humility and spectacle, which is a delicate balance.”
Grace’s Melancholy II 11in x 13½in Paper, Gesso, Bole, Ink, Mirror, 13 Karat Gold Photo Credit: Shrimp Peels & Hair
Jonathan Scott is a Scottish artist based in Toronto. Scott completed an MFA at the Glasgow School of Art in 2005 and has exhibited internationally, as well as having received grants from recognised institutions, such as the Glasgow Sculpture Studios and the Henry Moore Foundation and most recently Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council. He was recently included in a group exhibition “More than two, Let it make itself” at the Power Plant Toronto.
In my mind…Jonathan Scott is conceptual artist that’s simmering under the radar. His work is meticulous and radiate with sensitivity and sophistication. While shiny (think Koons and Kassay) tends to be a crowd pleaser, Jonathan’s gold gilding is part of his DNA (been gilding since age 17) and makes the technique an integral part of his works. What’s next for Scott? Toronto Art Fair this weekend, and later this week he’s in a group show “GEOMETRIKS” at GaleriaImpakto in Lima Peru (the gallery reps the likes of Paul Wackers, Wendy White, and another shiny artist, Nancy Lorenz).
Jonathan Scott’s “The Policy Makers” at Mulherin runs through Nov. 9, 2014