Max Streicher
June 4, 2011 to July 9, 2011

In this solo exhibition, the internationally renowned artist continues his exploration into the aesthetics of the inflatable. Using industrial fans and simple valve mechanisms to animate sewn forms with life-like gestures, the large-scale works hint at enchantment, fantasy and optimism while they are intended to overwhelm. The exhibition includes Streicher’s photo-based work.

The aesthetics of inflatables have had an important place in Streicher's work since 1989. His use of light and papery materials, like Tyvek, and more recently nylon spinnaker, has been significant to the character of the sculptures' development, specifically to his focus on movement. The weightlessness of this material allows it to respond with surprising subtlety to the action of air within it. The artist uses air to animate his work as it provides an effortless naturalism, recollecting the sensation of breath. In his work the distress behind the whimsy takes different forms where scale is a factor. Streicher's giants, for example, in contrast to similar commercial counterparts, are out of control. They appear to struggle, but why and to what end? How that sense of disruption is read also depends on what the individual viewer brings to the work. For some viewers, the creatures appear to be gasping for breath, endlessly straining to rise, portraying an image of playfulness, and even resurrection, while for others they are distinctly an image of torture. Both cases however involve physical empathy, a bodily recognition of the elemental—powerful and tenuous—forces that animate us all.

Max Streicher is a sculptor and installation artist from Alberta, now residing in Toronto. Since 1989 he has worked extensively with inflatable technology in kinetic sculptures and installation works. He has shown widely across Canada in solo exhibitions in museums such as The Art Gallery of Ontario, Edmonton Art Gallery and the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon. He has been part of group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Taipei), the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto), the Saidye Bronfman Centre (Montreal), The Power Plant Centre for Contemporary Art (Toronto), and Southern Alberta Art Gallery (Lethbridge). He has completed several international site-related projects in such places as Taichung (Taiwan) Erfurt (Germany) and Prague (Czech Republic). His inflatable works are in the collections of museums such as the ESSL Museum (Vienna), The Hara Museum (Tokyo) and Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Fredericton). He was a founding member of the Nethermind collective of artists who organized four large exhibitions in alternative spaces in Toronto between 1991 and 1995. Streicher is currently represented by Galerie Eric Mircher (Paris), Gallery Maskara (Mumbai, India), and Ricco/Maresca Gallery (New York). His upcoming exhibitions include La Ve Biennale internationale d’art contemporain de Melle, opening June 25th (Melle, France), "The Horse Show", organized by the Royal Hibernian Academy, opening July 9th (Dublin, Ireland), and Supercrawl Festival on James Street North, opening September 10th (Hamilton, Ontario).
Image: Max Streicher, Lamentation (prototype), 1994, Tyvek and electric fans. Photo by Eden Robbins.

This exhibition is generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Town of Witchurch-Stouffville.