On Wednesday, August 1, renowned New York sculptor and artist Alice Aycock will unveil her latest work and first installation at Toronto’s waterfront.
Commissioned by Cityzen Development Group for Pier 27, their luxury condominium project at 29 & 39 Queen’s Quay East, the two pieces – Maelstrom and Toronto Twister – comprise A Series of Whirlpool Field Manoeuvres. It represents two very different aspects of Toronto. The one, an abstract depiction of paper loose on an urban street scuttled by the wind, and the other an image of clouds and water, whipped by the wind. Powder coated and white, the two sculptures stand out dramatically during the day against the blue sky and water, as well as the silver and green glass of the architecture.
Maelstrom, formerly on display in front of the Seagram building on New York’s Park Avenue, is part of Aycock’s iconic 2014 series entitled Park Avenue Paper Chase. Three of the other original seven sculptures now grace Chicago’s lakefront, two are exhibited at the Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, UK, and another became part of a large outdoor exhibit in Bad Homburg, Germany.
Maelstrom’s companion piece, Toronto Twister, was designed by Aycock specifically for the Pier 27 and its water’s edge site. “The composition of Toronto Twister,” she says, “was partially derived from images of lenticular clouds. The sculptural assemblages also suggest weather patterns, waves, wind turbulence, turbines, vortexes of energy, and the expressive quality of wind as well as the chaotic beauty of fluid/flow dynamics.”
Aycock, who rose to artistic prominence in New York in the 1970s, was recognized this past spring for her long career with a Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award by New York’s International Sculpture Center. She is known for the physicality of her work and its intellectual underpinnings. She probes the seemingly contradictory aspects of urban life -- science, technology, and the caprice of the natural world – then documents its convergence.
This tension is apparent in most of her work, which “has been a meditation on the philosophical and metaphorical ramifications of science and technology from the simplest tool (the arrowhead and the plow) to the computer. Many of these works have incorporated images of wheels and turbines and references to energy in the form of spirals, whirlwinds, whirlpools, spinning tops, whirly-gigs, and so on.”
Although Aycock’s work is clearly designed and ordered, she wanted the work to have a “random haphazard quality and feel as though it is spinning on the site, perhaps launching itself into the air.”
Aycock clearly got to know Toronto before creating the sculptures. Her observation, though rarely expressed this way, resonates: “Much of the energy of the city is invisible. It is the energy of thought and ideas colliding and being transmitted outward.”
This work is a metaphor for that observation – “a visual residue of the energy of Toronto and its residents. The installation is highly visible on the shoreline and from Queen’s Quay Boulevard. It operates as a place-marker and a destination or exclamation point on the promenade.”
Aycock has lived in New York since the late 1960s, and has exhibited all over the world, at the Venice Biennale, Documenta VI and VIII and the Whitney Biennial. Her work can be found in major collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Louis Vuitton Foundation, the LA County Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the Sheldon Museum of Art, Storm King Art Center, and the Sprengel Museum in Hanover, Germany.
She will take guests on a tour of the art accompanied by Paulo Stellato, partner in Cityzen Development Group. Lunch will follow on the promenade.