CANADA is pleased to present Homesick, a solo exhibition of new work by Sadie Laska. With oil paintings, fabric works and monoprints, Laska creates a spectacle that is political but not polemical, posing questions and provoking reflection as she takes on the ambiguities of contemporary life. While opposing the normalization of war, environmental destruction and social dysfunction, Laska stands up for people living in conscientious connection with one another, able to fulfill authentic desires. Through image and text, Laska endeavors to wrest the power of language away from double-talking politicians and pushers of rapacious consumerism, delivering its innate power back to people.

Laska’s palette often features bold blocks of unadulterated color. PNG grid patterns or oversized dot matrix cursors fill large areas of the surfaces, alluding to flat modernist pictorial space or perhaps to the insidious way technology blankets our culture. A carefully selected codex of iconography is deployed: helicopters, globes, pointing fingers, airplanes and figures in silhouette, all chosen for their myriad potential meanings and visual punch. Everything is painted directly, without fuss, recalling late country musician Harlan Howard’s claim that a good song requires “three chords and the truth”.

The fabric windsocks hung from the ceiling of the exhibition space are loosely based on koinobori, the Japanese carp flags, that are flown over family homes on Children’s Day to represent the arduous journey to adulthood. Laska’s banners also form a possible retort to the store-bought flags plastered with political slogans that seem so prevalent today. Her version redirects such flaggy aggression with messages of personal liberation and pleasure. A series of monoprints on paper—a medium both mechanical and immediate—adds a ghostly quality to Laska’s everyman imagery.

Absurdist humor abounds in Homesick, reminiscent of the French 1960’s Situationist International movement. The seriousness of big social issues like war, oppression and the false progress of capitalism is leavened with punchy insouciance. Thought-provoking titles such as No Utopia for You often have double meanings; Laska is fond of wordplay and subtle jokes. Her interest in visual vocabulary is a mediation on power and the ways language can be used to build up human potential or create impossible stagnation. Ultimately, the strength of the work is derived from the power of collage: cutting and reconfiguring images to force new meanings and perspectives on what previously seemed to be so well understood.

Sadie Laska (b. 1974, Prince, WV) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She grew up going to punk shows in West Virginia, where her father was a philosophy professor at West Virginia University. She has frequently used excerpts from her father’s poems in her work. Laska arrived in New York in 1997 where she worked at Dia before moving to Washington, D.C to play in several bands, eventually returning to New York in 2003. Her work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions at the Page Gallery, Seoul, Korea; Ceysson & Bénétière, Saint-Étienne, France; Soccer Club Club, Chicago; CANADA, New York; Office Baroque, Brussels, Belgium; 56 Henry, New York; Galerie Bernard Ceysson, Luxembourg, Geneva, and Paris; and Kerry Schuss, New York, among others. Under the band name IUD, a percussion-based collaboration with Lizzi Bougatsos and others formed in 2004, Laska has performed at Kunsthalle, Zurich; MoMA PS1, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Astrup Fearnley, Oslo, Norway; and the Swiss Institute, New York, among others. She curated the exhibition Animal Farm at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, Connecticut in 2017 and I Am A Scientist at V1 Gallery in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018. She received her MFA from Bard College in 2014 and BFA West Virginia University in 1992.