All Beneath the Moon Decays

Britt Gallpen

To ask viewers to read the minimal, largely monochromatic forms on view at Daniel Faria Gallery as a meditation on ruin is also, perhaps, to ask them to imagine how we might begin to give material form to the passage of time. A very large task indeed and one that is extensively outlined in the gallery text by curator Rui Mateus Amaral. All Beneath the Moon Decays features works by Allyson Vieira and Paul Kajander and proposes a view of decay that encompasses the detritus of the everyday—building materials, books, currency and curios—while elevating each beyond its contemporary measure akin to the vitrines and catalogue numbers of the natural history museum. And while the success of such a weighty charge is questionable, it’s a beautiful show nonetheless.

Installation view of All Beneath the Moon Decays at Daniel Faria Gallery

Installation view of All Beneath the Moon Decays at Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto, Canada. 2014.

Installation view of All Beneath the Moon Decays at Daniel Faria Gallery

Installation view of All Beneath the Moon Decays at Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto, Canada. 2014.


Seizing the major share of exhibition space are three sculptures from Allyson Vieira’s Weight Bearing series. Inspired by the post-and-lintel structures of Greek temple architecture, the artist has reinterpreted the forms using contemporary construction materials while referencing the classical material language of marble and stone. Produced by stacking squares of drywall, secured by three-inch screws, the vertical posts are then topped with steel I-beams. Vieira has created the columns to match her own height, after which each is shaped to follow the line of a twisting female form. Further, Vieira’s figural columns reveal aspects of their making including the abandoned plans and paths taken by the artist. Faint red pencil lines indicate the saw’s intended cuts, rerouted or adjusted based on the material’s resistant ability to dictate its form. In a sense, these pieces allude to both the preparatory and the restorative. Vieira has written about her deep appreciation for the workmanship and approach to the contemporary restoration process of monuments currently underway in Greece. In particular, the artist has noted how new fragments of marble are carved to perfectly sit alongside the original, historical components, aligning but not matching.

Paul Kajander, All That Was Solid (For Greece), 2012, ongoing Acrylic on printed images, page numbers, adhesive on paper. 9 x 12 inches

Paul Kajander, All That Was Solid (For Greece), 2012-ongoing, Acrylic on printed images, page numbers, adhesive on paper. 9 x 12 inches.


The twinning of Vieira’s abstracted corporeal forms is echoed in Kajander’s décollage works running a partial length of the gallery’s south wall. From the ongoing series All That was Solid (For Greece), the intimate paper works are presented paired, evoking the spread of an open book and indeed, each work incorporates the original page number from Greek Sculpture: The Archaic Period by John Boardman, the source text for the two-dimensional sculptures Kajander has created through the layering of textural black acrylic. Built on grounds of printed stone, Kajander reveals his forms through the accumulation of paint onto flat surface whereby delicate and precarious smoothed, globular forms emerge. In perfect complement, Vieira’s imposing works are carved through the extreme physical removal of solid material mass. The resulting interplay between scale and dimensionality, flatness and density, accumulation and removal, although perhaps obvious also speaks to the various ways we might begin to consider time, the body and decay in relation to these artists.

Paul Kajander. As they are, what they are, that they are, together, (apart from smog & smoke), 2014, Ancient coin from the Macedonian Kingdom, vintage Penguin lighter, Greek War Relief matchbook, volcanic ash from Mt. St. Helens eruption, custom vitrine with mirror. 4 3/4" x 14.75” x 6.25”

Paul Kajander. As they are, what they are, that they are, together, (apart from smog & smoke), 2014, Ancient coin from the Macedonian Kingdom, vintage Penguin lighter, Greek War Relief matchbook, volcanic ash from Mt. St. Helens eruption, custom vitrine with mirror. 4.75 x 14.75 x 6.25 inches.


Punctuating the sculptural narrative of the exhibition is a small vitrine on the gallery’s back wall by Kajander: As they are, what they are, that they are, together, (apart from smog & smoke) (2014). Hung below eye level, the piece incorporates an antique coin, a vintage tourist lighter featuring the Parthenon, a Greek War Relief matchbook and a small pile of dusty volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount St. Helens set against a mirrored back. Read from left to right, the objects speak to the periodic and cyclical rise and fall of Greek culture, from the Macedonian period, through to the Athenian and the interwar period in the mid-twentieth century. Observant viewers might catch here the odd man out, the ash, culled not from Aegean shores but rather from Washington State and notably tied to the artist by the year 1980, his own birth year. Kajander, like myself, originates from the West Coast of Canada, a site where shaking and shifting earth poses a near constant (invisible) threat and where the possibility of environmental catastrophe makes one acutely aware of the fragility of the seemingly-solid built landscape. As any Vancouver local will tell you, it’s not a matter of if but when the city of glass will return to sand. This knowledge of the inevitable, cyclical return to the beginning is, perhaps, the heaviest burden of the human condition and, as a result, also the most mundane and absurd. A small glimpse of ourselves among the ruins is available by way of Kajander’s mirror, where viewers can simultaneously view the mass of Vieira’s sculptures alongside their own reflection—a simple reminder of the dark humour of everyday life.


All Beneath the Moon Decays

24 July – 6 September, 2014, Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Curated by Rui Mateus Amaral



Britt Gallpen is a critic and emerging curator based in Toronto, Canada. She is currently completing an MA in art history at York University, specializing in contemporary Canadian art and curatorial studies. Her current research is focused on a conceptual artwork by the collaborative N.E. Thing Co. related to the arctic and it’s legacy in considering contemporary geo-political positions in the circumpolar region. This project is supported by the Social Science & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). In addition she is co-curator, with Yasmin Nurming-Por, on the project "ARCTIC NOISE" by artist Geronimo Inutiq supported by the Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage (MICH) project, a multi-year SSHRC Partnership grant. She was the web editorial intern at Canadian Art and recently completed an internship as curatorial assistant in Contemporary and Modern Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Her writing has appeared in Canadian Art, esse art + opinions, KAPSULA and the Undergraduate Journal of Art History at the University of British Columbia. www.brittgallpen.com