Valérie Blass at Catriona Jeffries

Artist: Valérie Blass

Exhibition title: La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors

Venue: Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Date: May 23 – June 27, 2020

Photography: Rachel Topham Photography / all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver

What is a ghost without a sheet? An invisible form, the memory of an individual partially physicalized, a history made present and visible only from a thin layer of fabric, a form indifferent to gravity and physics. A ghost occupies a space between this plane and another unknowable one, inhabiting both spaces simultaneously.

In La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, a survey of the most recent sculptures of Montreal-based artist Valérie Blass, the works share a similar disregard for the boundaries of physical reality, the body and its inherited cultural categories. The suggestion of bodily presence has haunted her practice, here explicitly or subtly figured anew in each work. To be clear, these works do not rely purely on simple, uncanny tricks for their effect, but confound through a layered multitude of visual and intellectual surprises.

For Blass, the dominant categorical boundaries of the history of art—the separations of sculpture from photography from painting, and figuration from abstraction—are lightened, released, floated, pushed through and recombined. While Blass’s work has almost always been rooted in the realities and complexities of sculpture and the body, and their attendant art histories, with this exhibition she explicitly challenges preconceptions of how bodies, sculptural form and vernacular clothing and objects are expected to behave in relation.

These sculptures do not sit comfortably in one realm, but expand and brush past borders with intense material literacy, vigorous humour, and a skillful and curious visual adeptness. Here, the gendered public language of personal adornment, the clothing that indicates the figure and their accoutrements, are mismatched, creating new forms and slippery suggestions, an uncertainty about who is wearing what and why.

Observed together, the relations between works can be inferred or extrapolated. Informed by each other, but not content only to repeat, the works have been built off of one another, mimicking the studio process, still joking amongst themselves and challenging their own art historical predecessors.

These figures are eccentrically and undeniably convincing, real and simultaneously strange, trompe l’oeils in three dimensions, layering odd details and logic to create new understandings and intentional confusions of the material and cultural world. Each chases a state of confusion, but doesn’t just hover mysteriously—to experience these works is to have observation and expectation generously challenged, material and bodily knowledge subverted.

Valérie Blass, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, L’homme réparé, 2019, stainless steel, denim shorts, epoxy resin, acrylic paint, 41 x 89 x 12 in. (104 x 226 x 31 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme réparé, (detail), 2019, stainless steel, denim shorts, epoxy resin, acrylic paint, 41 x 89 x 12 in. (104 x 226 x 31 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme réparé, (detail), 2019, stainless steel, denim shorts, epoxy resin, acrylic paint, 41 x 89 x 12 in. (104 x 226 x 31 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme réparé, (detail), 2019, stainless steel, denim shorts, epoxy resin, acrylic paint, 41 x 89 x 12 in. (104 x 226 x 31 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme réparé, (detail), 2019, stainless steel, denim shorts, epoxy resin, acrylic paint, 41 x 89 x 12 in. (104 x 226 x 31 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme réparé, (detail), 2019, stainless steel, denim shorts, epoxy resin, acrylic paint, 41 x 89 x 12 in. (104 x 226 x 31 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme réparé, (detail), 2019, stainless steel, denim shorts, epoxy resin, acrylic paint, 41 x 89 x 12 in. (104 x 226 x 31 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme réparé, (detail), 2019, stainless steel, denim shorts, epoxy resin, acrylic paint, 41 x 89 x 12 in. (104 x 226 x 31 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme augmenté, 2019, pvc pipe, heat-shrink tubing, acrylic paint, 117 x 15 x 12 in. (296 x 38 x 24 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme augmenté, (detail), 2019, pvc pipe, heat-shrink tubing, acrylic paint, 117 x 15 x 12 in. (296 x 38 x 24 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme augmenté, (detail), 2019, pvc pipe, heat-shrink tubing, acrylic paint, 117 x 15 x 12 in. (296 x 38 x 24 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme augmenté, (detail), 2019, pvc pipe, heat-shrink tubing, acrylic paint, 117 x 15 x 12 in. (296 x 38 x 24 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme préservé, 2019, forton, photographic print on polyester tissue, plexiglas, chair, 61 x 25 x 25 in. (155 x 64 x 64 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme préservé, 2019, forton, photographic print on polyester tissue, plexiglas, chair, 61 x 25 x 25 in. (155 x 64 x 64 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme préservé, 2019, forton, photographic print on polyester tissue, plexiglas, chair, 61 x 25 x 25 in. (155 x 64 x 64 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme préservé, (detail), 2019, forton, photographic print on polyester tissue, plexiglas, chair, 61 x 25 x 25 in. (155 x 64 x 64 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme préservé, (detail), 2019, forton, photographic print on polyester tissue, plexiglas, chair, 61 x 25 x 25 in. (155 x 64 x 64 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme préservé, (detail), 2019, forton, photographic print on polyester tissue, plexiglas, chair, 61 x 25 x 25 in. (155 x 64 x 64 cm)

Valérie Blass, L’homme préservé, (detail), 2019, forton, photographic print on polyester tissue, plexiglas, chair, 61 x 25 x 25 in. (155 x 64 x 64 cm)

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, Le mime, le modèle et le dupe, 2019, acrylic, oil, gouache, plaster, copper, chip bag, juice box, jumpsuit, resin, epoxy, “breglass, 40 x 58 x 21 in., (102 x 147 x 53 cm)

Valérie Blass, Le mime, le modèle et le dupe, 2019, acrylic, oil, gouache, plaster, copper, chip bag, juice box, jumpsuit, resin, epoxy, “breglass, 40 x 58 x 21 in., (102 x 147 x 53 cm)

Valérie Blass, Le mime, le modèle et le dupe, 2019, acrylic, oil, gouache, plaster, copper, chip bag, juice box, jumpsuit, resin, epoxy, “breglass, 40 x 58 x 21 in., (102 x 147 x 53 cm)

Valérie Blass, Le mime, le modèle et le dupe, (detail), 2019, acrylic, oil, gouache, plaster, copper, chip bag, juice box, jumpsuit, resin, epoxy, “breglass, 40 x 58 x 21 in., (102 x 147 x 53 cm)

Valérie Blass, Le mime, le modèle et le dupe, (detail), 2019, acrylic, oil, gouache, plaster, copper, chip bag, juice box, jumpsuit, resin, epoxy, “breglass, 40 x 58 x 21 in., (102 x 147 x 53 cm)

Valérie Blass, Le mime, le modèle et le dupe, (detail), 2019, acrylic, oil, gouache, plaster, copper, chip bag, juice box, jumpsuit, resin, epoxy, “breglass, 40 x 58 x 21 in., (102 x 147 x 53 cm)

Valérie Blass, Le mime, le modèle et le dupe, (detail), 2019, acrylic, oil, gouache, plaster, copper, chip bag, juice box, jumpsuit, resin, epoxy, “breglass, 40 x 58 x 21 in., (102 x 147 x 53 cm)

Valérie Blass, Le mime, le modèle et le dupe, (detail), 2019, acrylic, oil, gouache, plaster, copper, chip bag, juice box, jumpsuit, resin, epoxy, “breglass, 40 x 58 x 21 in., (102 x 147 x 53 cm)

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, Le diable est dans les détails, 2019, pitchers, heat-shrink tubing, acrylic, oil, gouache, 47 x 9 x 4 in. (121 x 22 x 10 cm)

Valérie Blass, Le diable est dans les détails, (detail), 2019, pitchers, heat-shrink tubing, acrylic, oil, gouache, 47 x 9 x 4 in. (121 x 22 x 10 cm)

Valérie Blass, Le diable est dans les détails, (detail), 2019, pitchers, heat-shrink tubing, acrylic, oil, gouache, 47 x 9 x 4 in. (121 x 22 x 10 cm)

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, Ceux qui ne demandent rien, 2019, stool, acrylic, oil, gouache, “breglass, brick, shopping bag, cheetos, popcorn, milk carton, kraft dinner, apple juice, kitchen sponges, scouring pad, 44 x 66 x 33 in. (112 x 168 x 84 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ceux qui ne demandent rien, 2019, stool, acrylic, oil, gouache, “breglass, brick, shopping bag, cheetos, popcorn, milk carton, kraft dinner, apple juice, kitchen sponges, scouring pad, 44 x 66 x 33 in. (112 x 168 x 84 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ceux qui ne demandent rien, 2019, stool, acrylic, oil, gouache, “breglass, brick, shopping bag, cheetos, popcorn, milk carton, kraft dinner, apple juice, kitchen sponges, scouring pad, 44 x 66 x 33 in. (112 x 168 x 84 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ceux qui ne demandent rien, 2019, stool, acrylic, oil, gouache, “breglass, brick, shopping bag, cheetos, popcorn, milk carton, kraft dinner, apple juice, kitchen sponges, scouring pad, 44 x 66 x 33 in. (112 x 168 x 84 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ceux qui ne demandent rien, (detail), 2019, stool, acrylic, oil, gouache, “breglass, brick, shopping bag, cheetos, popcorn, milk carton, kraft dinner, apple juice, kitchen sponges, scouring pad, 44 x 66 x 33 in. (112 x 168 x 84 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ceux qui ne demandent rien, (detail), 2019, stool, acrylic, oil, gouache, “breglass, brick, shopping bag, cheetos, popcorn, milk carton, kraft dinner, apple juice, kitchen sponges, scouring pad, 44 x 66 x 33 in. (112 x 168 x 84 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ceux qui ne demandent rien, (detail), 2019, stool, acrylic, oil, gouache, “breglass, brick, shopping bag, cheetos, popcorn, milk carton, kraft dinner, apple juice, kitchen sponges, scouring pad, 44 x 66 x 33 in. (112 x 168 x 84 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ceux qui ne demandent rien, (detail), 2019, stool, acrylic, oil, gouache, “breglass, brick, shopping bag, cheetos, popcorn, milk carton, kraft dinner, apple juice, kitchen sponges, scouring pad, 44 x 66 x 33 in. (112 x 168 x 84 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ma fille coupée en deux, 2019, ceramic, 41 x 38 x 19 in. (104 x 97 x 48 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ma fille coupée en deux, 2019, ceramic, 41 x 38 x 19 in. (104 x 97 x 48 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ma fille coupée en deux, (detail), 2019, ceramic, 41 x 38 x 19 in. (104 x 97 x 48 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ma fille coupée en deux, (detail), 2019, ceramic, 41 x 38 x 19 in. (104 x 97 x 48 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ma fille coupée en deux, (detail), 2019, ceramic, 41 x 38 x 19 in. (104 x 97 x 48 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ma fille coupée en deux, (detail), 2019, ceramic, 41 x 38 x 19 in. (104 x 97 x 48 cm)

Valérie Blass, installation view, La poudre aux yeux: Of smoke in mirrors, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, 2020

Valérie Blass, Pourquoi appelle-t-on un trou noir, un “trou noir”?, 2019, ceramic, acrylic, oil, gouache, metal, clothing, resin, epoxy, 52 x 20 x 16 in. (132 x 51 x 41 cm)

Valérie Blass, Pourquoi appelle-t-on un trou noir, un “trou noir”?, 2019, ceramic, acrylic, oil, gouache, metal, clothing, resin, epoxy, 52 x 20 x 16 in. (132 x 51 x 41 cm)

Valérie Blass, Pourquoi appelle-t-on un trou noir, un “trou noir”?, (detail), 2019, ceramic, acrylic, oil, gouache, metal, clothing, resin, epoxy, 52 x 20 x 16 in. (132 x 51 x 41 cm)

Valérie Blass, Pourquoi appelle-t-on un trou noir, un “trou noir”?, (detail), 2019, ceramic, acrylic, oil, gouache, metal, clothing, resin, epoxy, 52 x 20 x 16 in. (132 x 51 x 41 cm)

Valérie Blass, Pourquoi appelle-t-on un trou noir, un “trou noir”?, (detail), 2019, ceramic, acrylic, oil, gouache, metal, clothing, resin, epoxy, 52 x 20 x 16 in. (132 x 51 x 41 cm)

Valérie Blass, Pourquoi appelle-t-on un trou noir, un “trou noir”?, (detail), 2019, ceramic, acrylic, oil, gouache, metal, clothing, resin, epoxy, 52 x 20 x 16 in. (132 x 51 x 41 cm)

Valérie Blass, Pourquoi appelle-t-on un trou noir, un “trou noir”?, (detail), 2019, ceramic, acrylic, oil, gouache, metal, clothing, resin, epoxy, 52 x 20 x 16 in. (132 x 51 x 41 cm)

Valérie Blass, Pourquoi appelle-t-on un trou noir, un “trou noir”?, (detail), 2019, ceramic, acrylic, oil, gouache, metal, clothing, resin, epoxy, 52 x 20 x 16 in. (132 x 51 x 41 cm)

Valérie Blass, Take all the time you need, 2019, resin chain, paint, heat-shrink tubing, 109 x 18 x 24 in. (277 x 45 x 61 cm)

Valérie Blass, Take all the time you need, 2019, resin chain, paint, heat-shrink tubing, 109 x 18 x 24 in. (277 x 45 x 61 cm)

Valérie Blass, Take all the time you need, 2019, resin chain, paint, heat-shrink tubing, 109 x 18 x 24 in. (277 x 45 x 61 cm)

Valérie Blass, Take all the time you need, 2019, resin chain, paint, heat-shrink tubing, 109 x 18 x 24 in. (277 x 45 x 61 cm)

Valérie Blass, Take all the time you need, 2019, resin chain, paint, heat-shrink tubing, 109 x 18 x 24 in. (277 x 45 x 61 cm)

Valérie Blass, Take all the time you need, 2019, resin chain, paint, heat-shrink tubing, 109 x 18 x 24 in. (277 x 45 x 61 cm)

Valérie Blass, Take all the time you need, 2019, resin chain, paint, heat-shrink tubing, 109 x 18 x 24 in. (277 x 45 x 61 cm)

Valérie Blass, Échapper à la psychologie, 2019, chair base, plaster, inkjet print on polyester, 53 x 19 x 17 in. (135 x 48 x 43 cm)

Valérie Blass, Échapper à la psychologie, 2019, chair base, plaster, inkjet print on polyester, 53 x 19 x 17 in. (135 x 48 x 43 cm)

Valérie Blass, Échapper à la psychologie, 2019, chair base, plaster, inkjet print on polyester, 53 x 19 x 17 in. (135 x 48 x 43 cm)

Valérie Blass, Échapper à la psychologie, 2019, chair base, plaster, inkjet print on polyester, 53 x 19 x 17 in. (135 x 48 x 43 cm)

Valérie Blass, Échapper à la psychologie, 2019, chair base, plaster, inkjet print on polyester, 53 x 19 x 17 in. (135 x 48 x 43 cm)

Valérie Blass, Ce qui a déjà été vu ne peut pas être dévu, 2020, inkjet print on paper mounted on aluminum, 15 x 10 in. (38 x 25 cm)