The Big Sleep

Ydessa Hendeles is that rare curator-artist gifted with talent. The Milliner’s Daughter at the Power Plant was an original curio with haunting depth, I doubt anyone in town has such imagination. It’s just like Emily Carr described: “Oh, God, what have I seen? Where have I been? Something has spoken to the very soul of me, wonderful, mighty, not of this world. Chords way down in my being have been touched. Dumb notes have struck chords of wonderful tone”. I use the word cultured, looking up at tall statues seemingly from ancient sandy Assyria, followed by a life sized Victorian lady in a bell jar, then Alice and the Cheshire cat. In other rooms wooden idols sit like ancient gods, polished over decades by the hand of thousands of child-like believers; actually they’re small to large wooden mannequins. There’s a child’s bicycle bell 30 times larger and huge reading glasses on a giant Lewis Carroll book. Feelings hover between twilight velvet and evening prayers, silver floors and silver nights.

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio’s studies of non-verbal language like Ydessa Hendeles’ work say that “every perceptual experience is accompanied by emotional coloration – an evaluation of subtle… art is not mere “cheesecake” for the mind. It is instead a cultural adaptation of great significance”. On that note, Ydessa Hendeles plays this installation like a virtuoso on a violin, any single room held the tone but together it’s a small symphony. This exegesis may sound bubbly but there’s no feedbag; everyone in that gallery was awed as the artwork yielded glimpses of its inner narrative.

From her wooden sleep… sitting in pews, hand sized to life sized wooden artists’ manikins two hundred to three hundred years old, polished dark brown figures like Emperor Qin’s terra cotta army. Hendeles sliced a moment in time to draw a slice of art, she almost defies some laws of nature to define the nature of art, it’s haunting. As haunting as the title THE BIRD THAT MADE THE BREEZE TO BLOW that gives me shivers. Ydessa was still tweaking the show at the last minute before opening, which is so cute; it’s a real love of art.

Miklos Legrady

Miklos Legrady is our Toronto Editor

Volume 32 no 3 Jan/Feb 2018 pp 31-32

4 thoughts on “Ydessa Hendeles, The Milliner’s Daughter, at the Power Plant, Toronto

  1. More interesting than this exhibition is the life of Ydessa Hendeles. At only 69, I wonder what she will do next, and I’m really looking forward to it.

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