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Jennifer Stillwell, Packs (detail), 2002, reconfigured armchairs (series of 7), variable, Collection of Oakville Galleries, purchased with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, the Corporation of the Town of Oakville, the Edna Powers Memorial Fund, and individual donors, 2005


Jennifer Stillwell, Rhonda Weppler + Trevor Mahovsky, Jimmy Limit, Nikki Woolsey, 
Curated by Ben Portis 

Feb.4 - April. 2, 2016

Opening reception:  Thursday, Feb.4, 6-8 pm 

The artists and the curator will be present

Pari Nadimi Gallery is pleased to present Baleful a group exhibition curated by Ben Portis. 

In response to an invitation from Pari Nadimi, curator Ben Portis recalls one of the first artists and works to deeply impress him upon his arrival in Toronto in 2002 – Jennifer Stillwell’s Bale. In what Stillwell termed a performance installation at YYZ, she methodically disassembled the modest contents of a living room – breaking down and un-stuffing a sofa and chairs, collapsing end tables, dismantling lamps. These assorted parts were finally tumbled into an immense roll, wrapped together by the room’s carpet and under pad. An anti-monument to a vanished life, the residual sculpture suggested submission, sacrifice and dread, a tidy, melancholic and self-inflicted variant of the Destroyed Room. 

Stillwell mounts the closely related and little-seen work, Packs, 2002, on generous loan from the collection of Oakville Galleries. Comprised of five armchairs, completely dismantled, their guts crammed into and over-spilling their textile covers, Packs is an even more uncanny work. The anthropomorphic design of the easy chairs turns into phantoms of the departed sitters. 

The insidious and unavoidable sepses that possessions can impose are alluded to in three new works being shown alongside Stillwell. Rhonda Weppler + Trevor Mahovsky’s installation, Don’t be sad that it is over, be happy that it ever began, 2015, reproduces the detritus of an abandoned dorm room wall. Posters, mementos and a deflated balloon gather dust in the gloom, left behind by a former occupant, not yet pitched out by the next. Works were produced specifically for Baleful by rising artist Jimmy Limit and emerging artist Nikki Woolsey. Limit has earned widespread praise for his portrayals of real-time ossification of contemporary consumer culture. Woolsey is a millennial gleaner and custodian of the ready-obsolescent devises a display locker for the unwanted, unnamed and unnoticed object. 

Jennifer Stillwell has exhibited widely over the past fourteen years challenging a variety of contexts from the landscape to the post-industrial to the museum.  Her work has been exhibited at Plug In ICA, Winnipeg; Darling Foundry, Montreal; Triple Candie, New York; YYZ Artists Outlet, Toronto; Loop – Raum für aktuelle Kunst, Berlin; Oakville Galleries; Winnipeg Art Gallery; Dunlop Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Windsor, among many others. Long based in Winnipeg, Stillwell is now on the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Victoria. 

Rhonda Weppler + Trevor Mahovsky have worked in collaboration since 2004. Both artists have MFA degrees from the University of British Columbia, where they met in 1996. Their exhibitions include: National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), LABoral (Gijon), Aurora (Dallas), Dos de Mayo (Madrid), Vancouver Art Gallery, Alter Space (San Francisco), Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Power Plant (Toronto), Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Tokyo Wonder Site, loop – Raum für aktuelle Kunst (Berlin), 516 Arts (Albuquerque), Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), Flux Night (Atlanta), + Gallery (Yokohama), Darling Foundry (Montreal). They were awarded the Glenfiddich Prize in 2014, and recently completed a public art commission for Vancouver’s Main Street Sky Train station.

Jimmy Limit is a visual artist working in photography, sculpture and ceramics. He is interested in the relationships between image, object, and their distribution. In 2014, he won the OAAG Award for Exhibition of the Year for Recent Advancements at Rodman Hall. In 2015, he was the recipient of the Gattuso Prize for Outstanding Featured Exhibition at the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival for Surplus at Clint Roenisch Gallery. Upcoming shows and projects include Art Souterrain in Montreal, a two-person show at Temnikova & Kasela in Tallinn, Estonia, Shangri Lost at Roberta in Toronto and CAFKA.16 in Kitchener. Limit is represented by Clint Roenisch Gallery, Toronto. 

Nikki Woolsey is a sculptor closely associated with the performance art community in Toronto. She is sculptor-in-residence of the monthly Kensington Market event Doored, which toured to Rotterdam and New York City in 2015. Through processes of intuitive reconfiguration, Woolsey abstracts commonplace materials to animate their identities. Her work has been shown in several group exhibitions, including Push and Pull, Mercer Union, How To Live Together, Erin Stump Projects, Moon Room and That’s not a run in your stocking, it’s a hand on your leg, Narwhal Projects, and More Than Two (Let It Make Itself), curated by Micah Lexier at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery. Woolsey graduated from OCAD University in 2006. 

Ben Portis is a curator and writer based in Toronto. He was an Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario from 2002 to 2009 and Curator of the MacLaren Art Centre from 2010 to 2013. He is a frequent contributor to Border Crossings, C Magazine, Canadian Artand The Dance Current, among other periodicals. His essays have appeared in numerous exhibition catalogues and artist monographs. Mr. Portis holds a BFA (Queen’s University, 1984), MFA (University of Chicago, 1989) and MA (Bard College, 2001).

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