Observing the Built Environment – A Selection of Sculptures by Jen Aitken

It’s easy to link certain forms with certain functions, for example an open vessel with a bowl. Recently I read an interesting article stating that shallow convex surface curvature is tied to our brain making connections between these type of forms and living organisms. Shapes with less curvature and that are jagged tend to represent rocks in our psyche, thus making them less appealing on the eye. Interesting considering my fascination with the latter style.

I certainly think there’s an appeal to roundness but I find the simplicity in hard-edged forms much more striking and thought provoking. The work of Toronto-based artist Jen Aitken was of value in this regard with her experimental sculpture seen here in her newest exhibition for Georgia Scherman Gallery titled ‘Jameson’. Aitken’s sculpture takes references from our urban environment and she translated these in to sculpture that might stir something inside of us.

The part I especially like is her constant trial and error, testing the boundaries between familiarity and unfamiliarity with such a form. From afar we can link these to architectural principles, exploring how shape, texture and colour interweave to creative friction or harmony. Delve deeper and Jen is using a framework that consists of forty-five and ninety-degree angles, also corresponding segments of cylinders, to explore the body’s relationship to architectural space.

Maybe then, the roundness and sharpness contrasting, also the negative space naturally generated from this balancing act, makes for sculpture that’s visually appealing and intriguing. A must for any great series. More like this can be seen on Aitken’s website linked below. I will keep my eyes peeled for other sculpture that Jen produces in the near future.



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