TORONTO: Susan Hobbs Gallery: Shirley Wiitasalo

For several years, Shirley Wiitasalo has explored various methods of application, applying paint to one surface before transferring it to the canvas. This method of making images employs a technique that shifts the romance associated with the act of painting to one of pragmatism and recurrence. An act of mediation is relied upon beyond the artist’s own subjectivity. As critic Heather White pronounces, she seems to be “a painter’s painter with a photographer’s aspirations to be neutral.”

Consider the actual process of making a ‘technical image’. The phrase articulates an image made with an apparatus, likely a camera or printing press. Something made using the processes of reproduction. Within this world of copies exists a multitude of fluctuation made possible through accidents, slip-ups, off-registers, surprises. For Vilém Flusser, the task of these images is “to produce improbable, informative situations to consolidate invisible possibilities into visible improbabilities.” In Wiitasalo’s work, the viscosity of paint performs a physical relay in which the imprinted qualities of one surface are handed-off to another. Depending on the paint’s thickness and the level of pressure, more or less information and material is carried through the process. As such, the paintings that result from this approach become an exercise in control and chance.