Opening Night: Friday, October 21st from 7-10pm
Show runs from October 21st – November 20th, 2022

To call for reclamation is to recognize what has gone wrong in the world. The tremor of something wrongly wounded underscores the works of the artists on view in Reclamations: four women who conjure strange beauty from that which has been stolen, degraded and denied.

One of those wounds is the stigmatic shame that inhibits conversations around the sacred subjects invoked here. These artists speak of primordial things, of the psyche, divinity and love – universal concepts that are too readily dismissed and derided in a secular society. To reclaim the sacred from these cynical forces requires an uncommon vulnerability matched by defiant determination.

Katarina Balmazan’s paintings depict women drawn from Greek mythology – those cornerstones of the Western literary canon that have made femininity synonymous to tragedy. From the most powerful goddesses to the marginalized helper-maiden, women in these myths are abused, betrayed, violated and bent out of bodily autonomy to become beasts and trees. Balmazan’s brush offers starkly minimal nods to these stories to restore focus to these legendary women as strong, angular monuments to their own perseverance, even at an intimate scale. Shaped by a boldly confident hand and informed by the artist’s own athleticism, these figurative works lay bare the ferocity of feminine endurance.

Nikola Wojewoda’s folkloric creations probe the myths and beliefs that can shape society for better or worse. Her deeply intuitive explorations of found materials conjure gods from wallpaper samples and a halo from a discarded bicycle wheel that sparks with screws and bullet casings. The fathomless contradictions of humanity’s cruelties and compassions are reflected in Wojewoda’s magpie bundles of symbols as she rearranges words and images that can hold conflicting ideas in productive relation. These tiny talismans of domesticity and violence raise an army of virtues against the forces of hate, fascism and misogyny. Against a rising tide of madness and death, patterns become a healing matrix of good order – the repeating logic of flowers prevails over the ruins.

Nature breaks again in cancer’s vicious growth – a nemesis that Ravinder Ruprai knows too well. Pattern is the bridge she builds to reclaim the physical and psychic scars of an aggressive cancer whose cause and consequences have shaped her healing journey of the past decade. With a material familiarity bred in the family textile factories of her youth, Ruprai hand-stitches wool in tidy French knots across a sea-blue battlefield of duplicitous cellular masses that lurk and shudder among errant shards of red. The knots and stitches that brave this expanse are hand-touched gestures of healing that unite body and mind against these unsteady currents. Straining towards triumph, her sutures shimmer with the resilient beauty of golf leaf.

Breann Ritchie uses gold leaf to gild the land and skies that she seeks to honour. In landscape paintings that pull the gaze skyward, unearthly light penetrates the clouds that hold the space between heaven and earth with ever-changing malleability. Her practice of saturating fabric in beeswax to make undulating forms touched with blushing pigments and gold leaf is suggestive of these same clouds that expand and contract like the maternal skin of the world. All this exaggerated beauty makes a deity of nature, one that Ritchie elevates above all others in a call to care for the land and the air as a necessity of survival: a responsibility she feels keenly as a young mother.

Whether reclaiming the strength of the body, the vitality of the land or the value of compassion in a hateful time, these artists enfold the wounds in our world in acts of sacred beauty that resonate with rebellious grace.

Stephanie Vegh, October 2022

1165 Cannon Street East, Hamilton, ON

Gallery is open is open to the public Wed – Sun 12-5pm. No appointment necessary. 
View the exhibit virtually here:

The God of Mercy by Nikola Wojewoda

Crystal Morning by Breann Ritchie

The Angry Red Line by Ravinder Ruprai

Echidna, The Mother of Monsters by Katarina Balmazan