1 North Square, Cambridge, ON
Emblems of the Enigma is a retrospective exploration of the meaning of exile and return as it manifests in the art of Vessna Perunovich. Her work contemplates in physical form what it means to construct our identities from the shared psychological components of our overlapping cultures. One common theme is our desire for a safe place.
The pieces selected for this show comprise a wide spectrum of physical media and format; from painting and drawing, to video and performance, to sculpture and installation, all marshaled to investigate the way our desires create emblematic experiences which amount to dreaming with our eyes wide open.
This survey offers a fascinating glimpse into the artist’s continuity over a twelve year period of evolution. Her work employs paradoxical takes on a multitude of human appetites, and she is able to make a deft commentary on our shared values as embodied creatures that require metaphysical as well as physical sanctuary. In fact, the search for sanctuary has become an emblem in itself for the multitude of miniature enigmas that we all face on a daily basis.
Donald Brackett, Guest Curator
Vessna Perunovich is a Serbian-born, Toronto-based, internationally acclaimed, interdisciplinary artist whose work embraces performance, video, sculpture, painting, and drawing. Vessna Perunovich works with issues around home, displacement, the notions of mobility, and boundaries. Born and educated in the Former Yugoslavia, Perunovich moved to Toronto, Canada in the late 1980s. Perunovich's work constantly brings to forefront her own position on the borders of identity in its multiple formations (social, political, personal, cultural, and so on). Her artistic practice reflects the multifaceted nature of her diasporic experience; it is interdisciplinary, performative, and often transitory in form and content. The artist's body and her personal experiences are always the point of reference for an aesthetic that operates intuitively, and a practice that challenges one's capability to move beyond barriers imposed by spaces, institutions, ideologies, or the body's own limitations.
More recently, Perunovich has shown her work at Havana Biennial in Cuba as part of "Ad Infinitum" exhibition; ArtYard, Frenchtown, New Jersey, USA as part of the group exhibition "Bedlam & Balance"; at A.J. Wallace Gallery in New York as part of a performance group project, "Transparent Travel"; and at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung City, Taiwan, Republic of China as part of Cargo East exhibition - a survey of contemporary Serbian art. Recent shows also include "Shifting Shelter" at Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Alberta University of the Arts in Calgary; "Life Bearings" at Georgia Sherman Art Projects, Toronto; "Blood" at the Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava, Slovakia; "Line Rituals and Radial Knitting" at the Art Gallery of Guelph, Ontario; "Neither Here Nor There" at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario; and "Border Stitching" at the Oboro, Montreal, Quebec.
Perunovich has exhibited at international biennials in Cuba, Albania, England, Venice, Portugal, Yugoslavia, and Greece and has attended residencies in Berlin (Germany), Banff (Canada), Bursa and Istanbul (Turkey), New York (USA), Beijing (China), and Zejtun (Malta). Her survey exhibitions Borderless and Emblems of Enigma toured prestigious galleries and museums across Canada and in Europe. Exhibiting venues in Europe include: Museum of Contemporary Art (Republic of Srpska); Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina); Museum of Contemporary Art (Novi Sad, Serbia); and Cultural Centre of Belgrade (Serbia). In Canada, Perunovich has show her work at the Art Gallery of Mississauga; Cambridge Art Galleries; Art Gallery of Hamilton; Art Gallery of Peterborough; Kelowna Art Gallery; Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery; The Canadian Textile Museum; A Space; VU Centre; Tom Thomson Gallery; Occurrence and others.