Art in America, October 1996, Pg. 127-128, by Anne McPherson


For more than 25 years, Nova Scotia sculptor John Greer has been sending gentle wake-up messages to perceptually sleepy or stale viewers. In the first of three groupings at Wynick/Tuck, the 2-foot-long, ovoid marble elements of Nine Grains of Rice (1991) appeared to be scattered randomly on the gallery floor. Greer's placement of his work is never as casual as it seems, however: the elements were positioned so that you had to pass among them to proceed further into the gallery, and they were set closely and irregularly to stimulate watchfulness and some anxiety about hurting yourself or them. Thus the body knew the work in the same moment that the mind recognized it.

In the second installation, A Scattering of Blue Rosebuds in Iceland (1994), seven bronze rosebuds--the size of a baby held in arms, says the artist--were paired with equal-size pieces of volcanic rock. The rich, midnight blue patination of the rosebuds linked them to the more somber blue rocks. The contrast between man-made and geological objects set up a paradox, yet the longer one stood among them, the more the rocks and roses came to resemble each other. The gallery floor ceased to be neutral and became a dramatic field in which the nature/culture certainty began to break down amid the mixed messages of qualities, processes and intentionality conveyed by these objects.

Sequestered in a smaller room was Prehistory (1996). Two pristine marble figures rested horizontally head to head, supported inconspicuously slightly above the floor. The 1,200-pound larger figure was a polar bear form based on an early Inuit model. Comfortingly rounded, as if swollen with winter fat, and without paws and claws, the bear showed no menace. A crevice that opened to the width of a hand split the figure lengthwise from the chest down, emphasizing its vulnerability. It lay in suspended animation, in seemingly symbiotic relation to a Cycladic woman, whose thin, flat body carved with angular lines, was slightly lower than the bear's her head a few inches away. The intimate space between them was not bridged in any way you could see.

You can contact me directly here:

Bus Shelter in Halifax with retroActive poster!
Thinking Back to Gertrude and Henrie, 2015
Installation View retroActive with Threshold, 2015; Civilization, 1990/91; PaperMoney, 2012
Wait of Water by John Greer, 2014 Bay of Fundy Detail of Wait of Water, October 9th, 2014; retroActive tied up, tide down, looking back across the bay where the piece was first realized in 1972
National Gallery of Canada : THE PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE
Print | Sitemap
© John Greer