The Confederation Centre Art Gallery is presenting a striking series of large paintings by Hamilton-based artist Sandra Meigs, entitled The Basement Paintings.
The work, inspired by the artist’s process of mourning the passing of her husband, finds resonance and exuberance in the face of tragedy. Described as “the most potent work of Meigs’ career” the exhibition features three expansive paintings from 2012-13 that draw from the artist’s feelings of claustrophobia – they are based on her imagination of a subterranean landscape – as well as a number of smaller, complementary pieces that are derived literally from photographs of a family member’s basement.
The approximately 500 photographs Meigs took in New Freedom became source material for a series of modestly scaled paintings, The Basement Piles, and a catalyst for the more monumental The Basement Panoramas, which are each based on real basements whose locations are named in their titles.
“In Meigs’ paintings, the physical shape of the basement breaks down into vigorous spirals and swirling lines, spreading and changing direction as if of their own accord,” offers Gallery Curator, Pan Wendt.
He continues, “Frequently interspersed with charged text, these pieces reflect on mortality and rebirth, the hidden drives that both animate us and hold us in their confining embrace. These works are a document of the will, as intensity, as persistence, and as escaping endlessly beyond our control.
Basements, often filled with unsorted things we store for future use, ornamented by tangled systems of wiring, heating and plumbing, hidden from everyday existence above ground, can be read in these works as a real-life embodiment of the structures and processes of the unconscious mind.
Sandra Meigs’ The Basement Paintings will be on display until March 16, 2019 in the Upper West Gallery at the CCAG. Visit confederationcentre.com for more.
Photo cutline: pile by furnace (The Basement Piles), 2013, acrylic on canvas, courtesy of Susan Hobbs Gallery.