Canan Toldon Sidesteps: Exhibition Review


Originally published by The Upcoming on 14 Jan 2014.

Sidesteps by Turkish-born artist Canan Tolon marks her first major show in London, boasting a glossy, glittering array of work spanning nearly three decades. The show is truly monumental in both scale and depth giving a fascinating insight into Tolon’s development as an artist over the years. In spite of this there is a reassuring coherence amongst the pieces and the exhibition flows elegantly along which is credit to the curation.

Futur imparfait, a collection of 33 figurative drawings in ink-wash and crayon stand out from the rest of the exhibition in terms of both form and content; they are much smaller than the other works and more obviously representational. Taken together as a conflux,  a single piece made up of smaller details they work, but as individual pieces they are amongst the weakest in the exhibition.

The rest of the ground floor of the show is made up of grand, glossy works which resemble photographic compositions, yet no screen printing techniques are employed. Tolon’s architectural background clearly has an influence on her work, with pieces such as Glitch II which has a haunting familiarity about it, resembling the archways of a grand railway station or famous bridge. But it flatters to deceive, on closer inspection it is naught but an imagined spectre.

Many of the pieces employ this technique, seeming to play tricks on the eye both in terms of the process they employ and their form. The first floor of the show sees the artist sidestep the architectural musings for great canvasses that resemble cellular forms under a microscope exploded to an impressive scale and infused with a slightly off-kilter palette.

There are a few real gems, like the immersive Time After Time which is not just a single piece but an entire three-walled room which engulfs your line of sight from every angle mesmerically. It appears to repeat ad infinitum but on closer inspection there are subtle differences and intricacies making a light play on the otherwise heavy concepts of time and space.

Sidesteps showcases an impressive body of work from a clearly very accomplished artist and despite the technical precision it still has enough surprises to keep you guessing.


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