the body may be said to think

Doris McCarthy Gallery, University of Toronto Scarborough
November 16, 2018 - January 26, 2019
Work by Doris McCarthy and Kate Wilson
Curated by Stuart Reid
Photography: Toni Hafkenscheid

The title of this exhibition draws from a quote in The Living Mountain by Scottish modernist writer, Nan Shepherd (1893-1981): “Here then may be lived a life of the senses so pure, so untouched by any mode of apprehension but their own, that the body may be said to think.” In nature, as Shepherd so poetically states, our body, and all its responsive senses, begins to holistically think.

Such a vibrational harmonic that affords communion between artist and landscape is observed reverently in works by Doris McCarthy (1910-2010) and Kate Wilson. Both artists, creative contemporaries for a few decades, share the passion for trekking and a good road trip. Both draw representational inspiration from nature and fuse imagery with motion, colour and depth, alluding to a deeper understanding of what is seen with the eyes. There is an intellectual reckoning with choices made in depicting the landscape.

McCarthy is credited with the quote: "You are actually constructing... what your head understood about what your eyes saw." She asserts that the artist is a thinking body that is at once part of the land and apart from it.

This exhibition brings together nature-inspired works by Doris McCarthy, primarily from the collection of the DMG, alongside large-scale wall drawings, paintings and preparatory works by Kate Wilson. From this juxtaposition of two artists’ works, we cast a wide glance over time, spanning the previous century, but also encompassing a forecast of tumult in the current. The reassurance, for the viewer, lies in the artists’ ability to lead us past what we see into the realm of what we feel and know in our bodies.