Critics’ Picks

View of “Shedding,” 2020.

View of “Shedding,” 2020.

Toronto

Eduardo Basualdo

Scrap Metal
11 Dublin Street Unit E
February 20–May 30, 2020

Open the door to Scrap Metal Gallery and you will walk right into the first work, Estanque (pond) (all works 2020). Standing tall from floor to ceiling, the matte-black, obdurate mass resembles a meteorite. Skirting gingerly around its perimeter, you will find a slim opening that leads to the behemoth’s center. From here, the rock looks less substantial: Thousands of perforations form a galaxy of light. To create this and other works, Eduardo Basualdo manipulated large sheets of Cinefoil, a black aluminum foil used to block light in stage productions. The resulting objects borrow theatrical techniques to play with viewers’ expectations.

The second work in the exhibition is Brumaria. Sprawling across the gallery floor, the crumpled foil resembles magma, enveloping what seem to be humans. To make this work, the artist had people lie on the floor while he carefully sculpted his material around their prostrate forms. Taking in the haunting result is akin to stumbling upon a battlefield littered with the dead. Unlike in Estanque (pond), no lightness counters the heavy tone; the viewer is left to imagine what the prone models must have felt as the artist encased them in the sharp, obfuscating foil.

At the back of the gallery hangs Razón y Fuerza (reason and strength), a bare, blinding LED fixture with a large, roughly constructed Cinefoil shade suspended above it. A pulley system mechanically raises and lowers the cover over the light at regular intervals. The optical effect is so harsh that the brief eclipse is a relief. Here, the Cinefoil is not menacing or suffocating, but protective. In the context of the exhibition, what seems to be the most literal play with light and dark ends up adding nuance to Basualdo’s metaphorical explorations.