Events Calendar

Tour and Video Talk: Sheila Butler - Other Circumstances

Thursday, April 15, 2021
7:00 pm
Virtual event on Zoom

Satellite Project Space is honoured to present a focused retrospective by the important artist, educator, and mentor, Sheila Butler.

This online event will feature talks from curators, Sheila Butler and other artists as well as a tour of the exhibit.

Curated by Pamela Edmonds and Patrick Mahon, the exhibition brings together 20 paintings and works on paper spanning 35 years of artistic production. Sheila Butler: Other Circumstances, is shaped by the central themes that have animated Butler’s longstanding and widely exhibited and collected work. They include: figures in transition and conflict; mythological subjects reconsidered through a feminist lens; and the body portrayed as suspended in water – a transitory medium.

During her career, the swimming theme has afforded Sheila Butler numerous possibilities. “You know,” the artist has said, “anything was believable in the water medium.” Water ultimately refused to act as a singular symbol, and instead became a site of spacious metaphors in Butler’s exciting images. Numerous works delve into the experiences of women, exploring various interpretations of the vast and complex nature of the human condition from a gendered perspective.

The artist combines images from a variety of sources such as literature, philosophy, and politics, as well as embracing associations to archetypal myths that influenced works such as Female Icarus (1996) and Ophelia (1996). Butler began working on Female Icarus in the 1990s, focusing on the Greek myth and the fall of Icarus. The painting offers an allegory for the processes and cycles of life, depicting falling figures and a rising swimmer which evokes both a safe space and a transitional state between the realms of sky and earth.

In her incisive catalogue essay, co-curator Pamela Edmonds acknowledges the rich and complex ways that Sheila Butler conjures our lived realities, recognizing “a world where visual information is chaotic, coherent boundaries (are) destroyed, and demarcated boundaries effaced.” Paintings such as Black Walker (1978) and White Walker (1978) pick up on the boundary challenging that Edmonds speaks of, in ways that were significant when they were produced forty years ago, and remain so today.

Patrick Mahon

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