montreal

R. Holland Murray

Liane and Danny Taran Gallery, Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts

In his recent show, R. Holland Murray presented hand-carved wood sculptures that fuse allusions to totemic motifs and utilitarian design, in human-scale works that at times resemble weapons or implements. The pieces are assembled with such a delicate sense of balance that civility and violence seem, momentarily, to co-exist. Murray has said that he was inspired by the intricate and interlocking surfaces of Japanese joinery technique, but the carved abstract and figurative details on many of the works also suggest other non-Western sources.

There is a strange fragility to the way these works are put together. In Two Crossed Legs, 1995, from the “Parallax(e)” series, the lower part of a vertical oak shaft is unevenly, almost amateurishly formed. The center section features elaborately carved geometric patterns reminiscent of African sculpture while the uppermost part is finely turned like a

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