A Canadian Surrealist whose work recalls such masters of display as Haim Steinbach and Rachel Harrison, Vancouver artist Liz Magor suggestively arranges found and fabricated objects atop flattened cardboard cartons cast in plaster. Worn Hudson’s Bay blankets and warm woolen knits abound. In Nest, a dead seabird fossilized in polymerized gypsum lies upturned on a thin stack of baggies like a lonely specimen awaiting collection. Covered with a stiff sheet of transparent plastic, Our New Sweaters finds a pair of small plush lambs linked arm in arm as they rest facedown on a bed of rosy, iridescent Mylar. The tableau evokes a nursery crime scene or the cutest suicide pact ever. In Oilmen’s Bonspiel, the face of a sad-eyed pink panda has been spliced onto the head of a sock monkey, who sits atop an upended box and holds a reindeer-patterned cardigan with a vintage patch from a 1960 curling tournament held in Dawson Creek, British Columbia.
Combining homey thrift-store items with commercial packaging and retail presentation, Magor’s sculptural compositions hint at untold narratives of abjection and loss. Darkly comic and slightly mad, they convey compelling, if somewhat elusive, emotional effects. Magor is widely revered in Canada and has exhibited at major European museums, but remarkably, this show is her first in New York. It seems safe to assume that it won’t be her last.