Strange Loop

7 paintings, acrylic on linen

About Strange Loop

….the paintings in Strange Loop hold their own surprises for the viewers and “grab” us just as effectively: faces are everywhere in these works, laughing and scowling at us from the mirrors and elaborate paneling of the interiors. As it turns out, these ghostly presences are merely the minor spirits of the places Meigs depicts. The morphology of the spaces in her paintings appears strangely human: here, windows become eyes and staircases transform into gigantic orifices, ready to swallow us up or at lease give us a good licking. Grey feels like the right colour for such internal spaces, whose firm architectural framework seems softer and more porous than the objective world, ready to yield and absorb us at the first sign of complicity. The spiraling perspective of the paintings, which wraps around the viewer, putting us at the centre of each image, recreates the solipsistic universe of the imagination; their formal instability is the counterpart of the psychological liveliness….

From her studies of Newport’s seaside mansions, she selected five to be worked up into paintings. The four larger works have been “enlarged” both literally and figuratively, taking on Meigs’ characteristic comic gestalt. Their morphological distortions and the large size of the canvasses are significant: over life-size, the paintings engulf us in a “visual maelstrom” of grotesque imagery and strangely off-kilter spaces. The earliest is System Watch (2008)… Meigs has flipped the image, which depicts a staircase and interior hall, to create an expansive but psychologically dichotomous space in which the left and right sides are mirror images, except for the happy or sad faces that stare out on either side from the oval mirrors and the pommels of the balustrade. Most remarkable is the central image of an animal-like, snouted face created by the conjoining of the two staircases in a closed loop. …. Each side keeps tabs on its alter-ego in a never-ending “system of control.”

Nonetheless, the surveillance function of what in Freudian terms we might call the house’s super-ego is itself kept in check by other forces embodied in its spaces. Look more closely: the slithering carpet runners on the stairs have loosened and sprouted eyelashes, covering closed eyes, and the stairs descending to the cellar on either side also seems to have escaped monitoring. Still, the looping structure of the painting implies that they are contained by its governing logic. Or does it?
— Diana Nemiroff, "Sandra Meigs: Strange Loop," Carleton University Art Gallery, 2009