Artist Talk & Tea: Saturday November 7th, 2pm
Eisenstein meant for ‘The Vegetable Sermon’ to be a vision of utopian, evolutionary morphogenesis, anticipating organic powers as eminently awaiting forces, rebuking void aestheticism. Instead he found himself swallowed by a dystopian vegetablized flesh-scape, sodden with steaming heaps of manic, dysfunctional fecundity, during his three year still-ongoing project.
This exhibition is provoked by the work of Thomas Fairchild (1667-1729), the English pioneer nurseryman and author of The City Gardener who led a gardening movement in the city of London as a response to the rapid rise of smoke pollution. Through hybridization, placing the pollen of Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) on the style of a gillyflower (Dianthus caryophyllus), a new hybrid flower (a type of carnation) came into bloom looking like neither of its parents alone, proving the sexual reproduction of plants, prefiguring our modern anxiety about genetic engineering. Today we know agrochemical manufacturers should not be trusted, but for Fairchild “GM” was neither bad or evil or wrong.
Explaining its lack of representation, Eisenstein describes his recent drawing as “biology as self-portraiture.” In a visual mapping of delimited pathways, rendered here as a large and highly detailed pencil, graphite and charcoal drawing on paper, the artist himself, present as the only inhabitant in the drawing, attempts a kind of recodification of personal identity–interrogated, erased, perhaps hybridized, reformed.
Fairchild’s revolutionary practices left him vulnerable to backlash from religious authorities, perceiving him as blasphemously attempting to take God’s power over creation into his own hands. As a posthumous defense against the religious bigots of the day, Fairchild established an endowment at St Leonard’s Church for the preaching of an annual sermon on “The wonderful works of God in Creation” or “On the certainty of the resurrection of the dead, proved by certain changes of the animal and vegetable parts of creation”.
On May 15, 2015, Biologist Rupert Sheldrake gave the 2015 Vegetable Sermon at Shoreditch Parish Church in London, England. His talk was on flowers.
Larry Eisenstein is a Toronto born and based visual artist whose work exploits the driving, accumulative qualities of drawing to explore the process of mark making. For Eisenstein the language of drawing has become both a personal means of self-expression as well as a system of thinking and that the practice and process of marking a surface has moved to the level of obsessive fixation, and unexpected compulsive necessity. He is a teacher at Humber College.