Double Flame | Claudia Gutierrez
May 21 — June 27
Tension, tautness and texture are tied literally and metaphorically into the work of Claudia Gutierrez. Having expanded her practice from painting and printmaking to include textile production, she is inspired by the patterns found in written language, by the tactility of her materials and by the potential for repetitive, meditative handwork to weave together notions of lineage, location and liminality.
Virtual Exhibition Tour and Talk With Claudia Gutierrez
Video Launch: May 21, 2021, at 6 PM @studiosixtysix
View the Exhibition Catalogue here
Tension, tautness and texture are tied literally and metaphorically into the work of Claudia Gutierrez. Born in Canada to Mexican and Uruguayan parents, she has been based in Ottawa since 2008. Having expanded her practice from painting and printmaking to include textile production, she is inspired by the patterns found in written language, by the tactility of her materials and by the potential for repetitive, meditative handwork to weave together notions of lineage, location and liminality. Gutierrez often exploits severe formal contrasts—light and dark, softness and hardness, weightiness and buoyancy—to evoke contraction and contradiction in her work.
The concept of coupling is also a quandary that is explored further in Gutierrez’s most recent work. Inspired by Octavio Paz’ collection of essays titled The Double Flame, here the artist intertwines the oppositions always already inherent in human relationships -- pleasure and pain, change and stagnation -- with visual cues that reference both traditional and contemporary forms of communication.
At first glance, these high-contrast, horizontal woven bands read like forms of code -- the dot and dash of a morse transmission, or the zeros and ones from digital programming. Almost like the ticker line that runs incessantly during a news broadcast, these works vibrate with a continual sense of urgent motion.
Their frenzied message is, however, interrupted mid-delivery. Tangles and tethers of winding wool break the linear reading of this message and it is here that the artist interweaves a more personal narrative. Referencing ancient Peruvian traditions of Quipu - data records made by encoding information into precise knotted cords of cotton and camel hair - Gutierrez combines these historic techniques with materials that are exceptionally intimate: wool from Mexico is wrapped reverently around the bedsheets belonging to herself and her partner to create many of these works.
In this way, Gutierrez visualized the conundrum Paz describes in his writing, “that vivacity which endlessly destroys itself and is reborn, which is always both now and never.” Here, multiple times and spaces are laced and looped together, taught yet tenderly intertwined, in a way that reminds us, as Paz notes, of the bliss and tragedy that is all love and creation.
Currently working as a curator and arts administrator, Claudia Gutierrez is an artist and activist whose practice has been deeply informed by residencies in Canada and Mexico. She has been exhibiting her work in Ontario since 2010 and has completed numerous public art and cultural outreach projects in Ottawa. She was awarded the SAW Prize for New Works in 2020.
Rhiannon Vogl is a PhD Candidate in art history at the University of Toronto. Her writing has been published in Border Crossings, BlackFlash and Momus, as well as in numerous catalogues and exhibition essays. She has worked as a curator and critic for over a decade.