spilled edge
soft corners

Produced in conjunction with the 2000 exhibition spilled edge soft corners

48 pages, softcover with dust jacket, partial colour, 15cm x 21cm
ISBN 0-7727-8202-4


cover of spilled edge soft corner catalogue

spilled edge soft corner is the catalogue for the 2000 exhibition curated by then Director/Curator Barbara Fischer. This exhibition presented the work of eight artists from across Canada and the United States whose work falls outside the conventional frame of painting, though these artists did not form a tight group or a conceptually coherent trend. These artists contributed works that presented ‘paintings’ in the forms of tight knots, wound up bundles, or blown-up piles of paint, as well as in coloured reflection, spilled light, and fluid layering. The exhibition included Mary Scott (Calgary), Jessica Stockholder (New York), Robert Youds (Victoria), John Heward (Montreal), Andy Patton (Toronto), Eric Cameron (Calgary), Polly Apfelbaum (New York), and François-Marie Bertrand (Chicoutimi). The catalogue includes an essay by curator Barbara Fischer, in which she explores the works in the exhibition according to the following themes: painting to pouring; paint as fluid; canvas as cloth; surfacing the support; and, colour in space. She also gives critical attention to each work in the exhibition individually. The catalogue contains eight large colour images and six black-and-white images.


The medium and its limits have, I think, always been a part of the subject of painting, literally and figuratively speaking. But by the late 1960s, several very divergent avenues of thought had opened up. Some, speculating about the blank canvas tacked to the wall, gave up on painting and called it an end. [1] Others, and this was Michael Fried’s position in 1967, backtracked: going against the grain of reductive essentialism, he said that the material medium itself merely constituted the minimal conditions on which painting would operate and unfold its eternal optical enterprise. Therein lay its grace. [2] However, there were also those who came to see, in each of the conventions that factored into painting, expandable beginnings. Painting became sculptural and the sculptural lent itself to thinking about painting. Shape and cloth, paint and support, colour and space were physically materialized (literalized). Each was made independent of the integral conventions of painting […].

[…] The current exhibition at the Blackwood Gallery, which came out of wondering about painting (again, or even still), can be seen against this very rich history, as in many way certain methods and effects reverberate in the works on view. The exhibition attests to the repercussions and turns of some of these historical openings, opening that for the most part seem to have been side-swiped in the contemporary scene in Canada. In particular, it is the unframed, unhinged, and frayed form of the contemporary work that seems strangely absent from debate in the ongoing waves of rediscovering and rehashing painting, even in the teaching of it. I found myself growing weary of the invariability of the variables: paint, techniques, shifts in subject and the successive returns of abstraction, image, abstraction, image. I especially wondered why in all these returns the basic framework of the activity remained squarely in place (even when concerned with abstraction), and why allegiance that is at once invisible and constantly reaffirmed, since only what’s put on the canvas is considered subject for review.

–excerpted from the curatorial essay by Barbara Fischer

1. For Clement Greenberg a tacked-up canvas could count as a painting, though not a particularly “successful” one. Clement Greenberg quoted by Michael Fried in “Art and Objecthood,” Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. By Gregory Battcock (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1968), footnote 4, p. 123.
2. Ibid., footnote 4, pp. 123-24.

Table of Contents

Spilled edge soft corners (curatorial essay)  p. 7
Barbara Fischer

Polly Apfelbaum  p.17

John Heward  p. 20

Andy Patton  p. 24

Mary Scott  p. 28

Robert Youds  p. 32

Eric Cameron  p. 36

François-Marie Bertrand  p.38

Jessica Stockholder  p. 40

Postscript  p. 42

List of Works  p. 44

Acknowledgments  p. 45

Artists & Writers

Polly Apfelbaum
François-Marie Bertrand 
Eric Cameron 
John Heward
Barbara Fischer
Andy Patton
Mary Scott
Jessica Stockholder 
Robert Youds


Photography: Peter MacCallum, Richard Max-Tremblay (p. 14)
Editing: Susan Harrison
Design: Andrew Di Rosa/ SMALL
Printing: CJ Graphics, Toronto

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Related Projects

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Spilled Edge Soft Corners
January 14 - February 11, 2000
Curated by Barbara Fischer