Jen Aitken: Dark Matter Halos

September 9 - October 6, 2023


Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce Dark Matter Halos, a solo exhibition of new sculptures and drawings by Jen Aitken. The exhibition will open on September 9th and run until October 6th. An artist talk will take place on Saturday, September 9th at 12 pm between Jen Aitken and Sara Angel, Founder and Executive Director of the Art Canada Institute. An opening reception will follow from 1 and 3 pm. 


Primarily working in sculpture, Jen Aitken’s practice considers how we relate to space, form, and material as we move through our urban environment. Everyday materials such as concrete, wood, and steel are transformed into unexpected and ambiguous configurations that engage with your body and interact with their surroundings.

This exhibition immediately follows Aitken’s highly acclaimed first major institutional presentation at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, (catalogue forthcoming). Dark Matter Halos presents three new and distinct bodies of work developed over the last five years. This extended research period is typical for Aitken, allowing her to become acutely versed in her materials’ strengths and limitations. 


Aitken’s Palace sculptures began in 2019 in Los Angeles when she started working with ceramics and welding steel. Ceramic strips and arcs are paired with similar forms in steel. The steel is painted to match the specific earth tones of the clay, a disguise that encourages our engagement with the subtleties of texture and form. The Palaces rest on tabletops or plinths and convey a miniature scale without depicting actual buildings. Titled after Giacometti’s The Palace at 4 am, these works invite you to project yourself into their emotionally charged spaces.


Aitken’s Breather sculptures are more robust iterations of earlier her three-dimensional drawings-in-space and fabricated from welded steel. The skeletal forms are fastened to the wall, holding ambiguous volumes of negative space. Moving from one side to the other, the sculpture and space within transform dramatically, creating a continuously shifting reality.


Each sculpture is the result of a series of decisions, and with every decision the sculptures that “could have been" accumulate like dark matter—unrealized ideas that cling invisibly to the real final form. Because of my improvisational building method, and the rule-based visual language of the work, each sculpture seems to suggest that it could have turned out differently, or that its parts could still be reconfigured. In this sense each sculpture is the material representation of a multitude of possible sculptures.

Jen Aitken


While Aitken has completed many two-dimensional works on panel and paper, she asserts that everything she creates comes from a sculptural perspective. This is clear in her recent Assembled Drawings, small sketches of possible sculptures that have been chopped into sections and then collaged together with other similar sketches. Treating drawings like building components, Aitken adopted a loose hand and played at connecting the linear elements from the different drawings into uncanny but convincing objects.