Fever Dreams presents figurative works drawn from the Permanent Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Dating from 1978 to 2000, the artworks in this exhibition highlight a seismic shift from a virtually monolithic focus on abstraction at mid-century to the more pluralistic artistic practices of the latter quarter of the twentieth century. Issues of identity, politics and representation are at play in much of the projects, responding to the recessions of the 1970s and 1980s, Indigenous activism, queer mobilization and feminist practice.
In a 1981 essay in October, renowned art historian Benjamin Buchloh describes the artists engaged in a return to figuration as “ciphers of regression,” artists whose practices represented a step backwards in the forward march of artistic progress. In contrast, Fever Dreams highlights the diverse and growing possibilities proposed by a younger generation of artists, planting seeds for the expanded field of artistic production we enjoy today. The artists featured in the exhibition include Carl Beam, Cathy Daley, Michael Davidson, Andy Fabo, Will Gorlitz, Dieter Hacker, Leopold Plotek, Jane Ash Poitras, Jeannie Thib, Renée van Halm and Shirley Wiitasalo.