Mathematics is the universal language

Winnipeg artists Clint Enns and Jeanette Johns join forces to assault the senses

  • Where the Senses Fail Us at Gallery 803. – Antoinette Dycksman

  • Where the Senses Fail Us at Gallery 803. – Antoinette Dycksman

One plus one equals an array of interesting art in the latest exhibition at Gallery 803.

Opened at the end of November, Where the Senses Fail Us combines the talents of artists Clint Enns and Jeanette Johns, with the help of curator Kerri-Lynn Reeves.

The exhibit contrasts the work of the pair of talented Winnipeggers, whose projects are as different as the mediums they have chosen. Surprisingly, it’s math that these artists have as the common denominator, a connection made apparent by Reeves as curator.

While Enns uses a continued circle to piece together a mesmerizing stop animation video, Johns uses maps, diagrams and printmaking to create beautiful and calming images using geometric patterns.

Enns, who is currently completing his Master’s in mathematics at the University of Manitoba, is a prolific filmmaker and also a member of Video Pool.

His piece, entitled “Circling the Image,” was inspired by the words of filmmaker Alexander Keewatin Dewdney, and is both hypnotic and chaotic. Finding circular objects of colourful things like labels, logos, dials and even a clown’s face, Enns sends them all flipping passed at lightning speed in stop animation form.

The remainder of the exhibit showcases the work of Jeanette Johns, a fellow U of M grad who currently works at the Manitoba Print Makers’ Association and at Martha Street Studios. Her processes vary from traditional printmaking techniques, like silkscreen and etching, as well as paper marbling, gold leaf and digital printing.

Johns’ work in the show starts with a series called “Retreating Agassiz,” a group of prints based on the movements of the glacial lake Agassiz that uses maps and printmaking.

“The language of landscape holds hidden truths about time and space,” Johns said via e-mail while on her honeymoon.

Another piece entitled “No Monument is at all Comparable to Virtuous Actions” is an inkjet print on marbled paper that is also very map-like but doesn’t incorporate any maps; rather, the swirly areas of colour resemble continents or islands. Graph-like lines quiver across the piece, making it look like a map of an unknown place or perhaps one from the past, which ties in with Johns’ interests.

“I attempt to translate a certain comfort that comes from looking back at our shared past and reveal the mystery of attempting to keep records of passing time,” Johns said.

“Observation is my initial inspiration. Viewpoints that I like to observe from are seeing from afar and above, like looking out of an airplane window,” she added when asked about the inspirations for her work.

But her keen observations also like to focus on patterns, like finding the beauty within a knitted mitten.

“I’m not only attracted to the colors and patterns but also the history of documents and how people carry them and hold onto them as if it gives them some strange sense of security.”

Where the Senses Fail Us is on display at Gallery 803 (803 Erin St.) until Friday, Jan. 29.

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