Critics’ Picks

View of “Shaved Ice,” 2012.

View of “Shaved Ice,” 2012.


Jim Lambie

The Modern Institute
14-20 Osborne Street
November 23, 2012–March 9, 2013

In this exhibition, titled “Shaved Ice,” Jim Lambie has arranged sixteen ladders at different angles throughout one gallery in an arrangement that might at first seem random. Installed from floor to ceiling, the ladders seem almost architecturally integral to the space, thus challenging preconceived notions of the set purpose and character of these everyday items. Lambie has placed mirrored inserts between their rungs, which results in compound reflections that are not immediately detectable, and he has painted the ladders in a rainbow of psychedelic colors that bounce off the mirrors and each other, giving the room an overall radiance. Transformed into formal mirrored columns, the ladders reflect the gallery’s interior from myriad angles, expanding and distorting the shape of the space while skewing the actual orientation of these objects within the gallery. At times more complex reflections unexpectedly divulge new patterns through the seemingly warped shapes of the ladders and the varied juxtaposition of their bright colors. At the same time, the strong interplay between the bold vertical and horizontal lines of the ladders gives a formal structure to the overall installation; rigorously configured, it is an abstract composition, elegantly framed by the room itself, and one that is both disorienting and magical.