GLASS GETS a lot of artists in trouble. The medium is so malleable that it takes considerable self-control to keep a work in progress focused.
But when you get glass sculpture right, it's as right as you can get, as shown by a new exhibition of three contemporary Canadian glass masters at the Canadian Embassy. Coolly complementing the fabulous Inuit sculpture show in the main gallery, the glassworks exhibition would be the main event at any other gallery in town.
Alfred Engerer, 38, creates echoes of architecture, pieces that simultaneously mock the sterility of modern buildings and suggest what might have been. In "Antitemple" (1985), the Malta-born Torontan demonstrates how architects use the inherent beauty of glass to disguise the ineffable ugliness of inappropriate designs.
Francois Houde, 40, uses the passage of light through glass to explore the passage of time. His window-framed works demand to be looked through, with the eye being led through time tunnels toward ancient civilizations symbolized by such motifs as Chinese Tang Dynasty horses. It's no surprise to learn that the Quebec sculptor holds a degree in anthropology.
Lisette Lemieux, 47, also explores classical themes, creating minimalist columns and arches of heroic size. The Montrealer describes her method of working in glass as "perverting it from its everyday function," but in fact is putting the material to its highest and best artistic use.
Although these artists' styles are very different, the play of light within and among the sculptures unifies and enhances them all.