La poudre aux yeux: Of Smoke in Mirrors
Amidst the global pandemic, most galleries have increased their online presence. Catriona Jeffries is no exception, as it offered guided virtual tours of Valérie Blass’s most recent project: La poudre aux yeux: Of Smoke in Mirrors. For the occasion, the Sobey Prize winner grouped ten works produced over the past two years for shows at the AGO, the Oakvilles Galleries, and the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin. The pieces in this exhibition appear to be suspended in a moment of transformation, making them unquestionably performative, while also referring to the photographic realm. In fact, both disciplines play a central role within the practice of the artist. At the onset of the project, performers were invited into the artist’s studio where they dressed up and performed for Blass’s camera. This preparatory studio session seems to have informed the entire production.
L’homme réparé is the first work one encounters. It consists of a pair of denim shorts sitting atop a barricade pole. This piece, along with two others nearby—L’homme augmenté and L’homme préservé — form a trilogy that provides a synopsis of the three main avenues of research that have defined Blass’s practice over the past few years: the suggestion of a bodily presence, the deceiving potential of transformed materials, and the clever weaving of photography, performance, and painting into complex sculptural forms.