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Christie Contemporary is pleased to present Finding the Edge, an exhibition of drawings by Jessica Hein, opening Friday, February 23 and continuing until Saturday, March 24.

In her drawings, Jessica Hein combines the sensorial imprint of meandering walks with a material process that insists its own navigational liberty. Using waterborne mineral powders and pigments, Hein guides the slurry as it inhabits the paper, coaxing observed aspects of the natural world (cloud formations, river systems, topographies) in a series of gestures completed only once the liquefied material slows its movement and evaporates to reveal the drawing’s edge. 

Drawing an immediate parallel between the act of walking in nature and the physical choreography of making in the studio, Hein reinscribes memory at the level of gesture. With Vermillion, a large-scale drawing spanning nearly twenty feet in length and representing the river system that flows past Sudbury in northern Ontario, memory is drawn from two points of reference: a long familiarity with the terrain depicted, and the repeated tracing of downloaded satellite views. While accuracy is secondary to the undertaking, favouring instead the somewhat imperfect recall of experience, Hein nonetheless pursues a recasting of the system’s features, having to balance chance and control as the fluid medium interacts with the surface. In a whorl of spectral blues and murky taupes the river system is drawn with its own constituent material, the pigments unleashed and stilled by water in process, flowed into lakes, rivers and tributaries in a manner mimicking the natural unfolding of waterways in a landscape. 

In The Colour of There from Here E’N, powdered graphite and water comingle to picture a cloudlike form, centrally suspended on a white ground. Its irregular edges are delineated by the accretion of the minerals at the point of the water’s evaporation from the surface following a series of movements to evolve its form, while the interior churns with billowing contours. Similarly, in the works, The Blue of Distance E’NE and the pair of drawings under the title The Light That Gets Lost, Hein builds images of aerially viewed topographies, where cloud cover and geographical features are evoked from the worked slurry. The organic, outer edges of the image areas speak to the immediacy of their making, the challenge to time, while the inner movement relates an ethereal navigation of the expansiveness of the natural world.

Alternating between solidity and atmosphere, between looking at and peering through, there is a persistent inclination to locate ourselves in relation to the subject area of the drawings, to know the environmental allusion Hein makes through abstract gestures.