After walking through the brightly lit rooms of Entangled: Two Views on Contemporary Canadian Painting (previous post) at the Vancouver Art Gallery I wandered into a cozy, dimly lit space displaying Emily Carr paintings in the show 空/Emptiness: Emily Carr and Lui Shou Kwan.
The paintings are gorgeous: the Vancouver Art Gallery has some of the best examples of Carr’s work I’ve seen. They are damn fine paintings–bold, strong, studied.
Grey, 1931-32 Emily Carr
untitled (Tree on a Rocky Profile) 1922-25 Emily Carr
A Young Tree, 1931 Emily Carr
This is work to be experienced in person. Many of us have seen her art reproduced on mugs, greeting cards and book bags and think we know it. I have thought, “Oh, yeah. Emily Carr. Eccentric west coast woman painting trees.” Then I encounter some of these paintings and think, “Wow. Gorgeous. Lush. Remarkable…….. I wish she hadn’t had such a struggle to make a living, and could have spent more time painting.” (Sad and sobering facts: Carr could not always make a living from her artwork, and spent much time and energy for many years managing tenants in a rental house and engaging in other schemes to earn money. In 2015 one of her paintings sold at auction for $1.53 million. Click here for a National Post article about the sale.)
It seems I have a short memory, for I have expressed the very same views about her paintings in other posts I’ve written. Click here and here to read other brief postings about her works.
untitled, 1931-32 Emily Carr
Abstract Tree Forms, 1931-32 Emily Carr
Emily might be horrified to know her images are on greeting cards, magnets and bookmarks. Or maybe she would have laughed at the irony of it.
The Art Caravan briefly visited the Vancouver Art Gallery a couple of weeks ago, and was pleasantly surprised by the exhibition Entangled: Two Views on Contemporary Canadian Painting.
People are People, Sarah Cale, 2013
Twin of Concealment, 2016, Colleen Heslin
Polarisation NNB, 2013, Julie Trudel
N=32%, 2006, Francine Savard
I walked into the various rooms of the show, experiencing the artworks without reading the curatorial statement, or the explanations….somewhat unusual for me. Instead I moved through the show twice, discussed some of the pieces with my companion, and took a few photos of the works I found particularly intriguing and satisfying. Only while preparing this posting, did I read the VAG’s brief description:
Entangled: Two Views on Contemporary Canadian Painting offers an insight into two distinctly different modes of painting that have come to dominate contemporary painting in this country. The origins of both can be effectively traced back to the 1970s, to a moment when the continued existence of painting was hotly debated. Within that debate two new strategies were devised, one that proposed the possibility of conceptual painting—a highly refined notion of painting that emerged from and returned to the idea—and a second, ambivalent proposition that valued actions and materials over ideas—in short, doing and making were pitted against ideas and concepts.
So: the conceptual as opposed to the material. When I look at the paintings I photographed, I realize I had unconsciously gravitated towards the second proposition: the materials and the making were more interesting to me than the conceptual works. I suspect it may have something to do with the tactile, textural works being more easily understood and appreciated.
For example, Colleen Heslin‘s work is composed of canvas, dyed by the artist, and pieced together–referencing collage, fiber arts, quilting, and even tie-dyeing from the 70’s.
Pause, 2016, Colleen Heslin
Painting fragments, adhered acrylic and oil make up Sarah Cale‘s pieces. They, too, have a collage feeling, reminiscent of the groundbreaking work of Picasso and Braque at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Strange to be Yourself, Sarah Cale, 2015
Strange to be Yourself; People are People, Sarah Cale
Perhaps Francine Savard‘s pieces combine both the conceptual and the material. Les Couleurs de Cézanne dans les mots de Rilke reference the poet Rilke’s writings about the Impressionist painter, Cézanne, who was, in turn, extremely interested in the poet, Baudelaire. The ‘painting’ is composed of vinyl and acrylic paint on canvas, mounted on fibreboard, and includes a framed book.
Les Couleurs de CEZANNE dans les mots de RILKE, Francine Savard
Les Couleurs de CEZANNE dans les mots de RILKE (detail), Francine Savard
There are 31 Canadian painters in this show…..and I was only familiar with one of them. It’s exciting to learn about contemporary Canadian painting. I encourage you to visit the VAG soon, if possible. The show ends January 1, 2018.
The Art Caravan was happy to visit the Vancouver Art/Book Fairthis past weekend. It is the only international art book fair in Canada. It’s sponsored by Project Space, and was held at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
There were social events, talks, and display booths for the participants. It was great fun to see familiar faces from Martha Street Studio and meet new people like the couple at Papirmass.
Papirmass–what a concept! For an annual (affordable) subscription fee, they deliver original art to your mailbox. How fun is that? That’s right: every month you receive an original print, accompanied by a story or poem.
Perhaps even better news –the artists and writers get paid, too! Their mandate “is to support artists and writers by expanding the audience for their work, and to create a new generation of art collectors by creating art that is accessible to all.”
Visit Papirmass’ website. Become a ‘Follower.’ They really are irresistible. (And wouldn’t a subscription — or two — make great gifts?)
On a recent visit to Vancouver, The Art Caravan visited the Vancouver Art Gallery. Sadly, the Cardiff/Miller show, Lost in the Memory Palace, (see August 4 blog entry) was in the tear down/crating stage. (Just imagine their storage issues!)
So….who is Landon Mackenzie? She is a Vancouver based painter, and art professor at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. (You know she’s the ‘real deal’ in Canadian art because she’s been interviewed by Bill Richardson, Vicky Gabereau AND Nora Yonge, those staples of Canadian public radio!) Early in her career, her paintings were justifiably purchased by major collections, like the Art Gallery of Ontario. Her early works are huge; many of the Lost River series are 6.5 x 7.5 feet.
Lost River Series
National Gallery of Canada
Collections of Glenbow Museum and Art Gallery of Ontario
The most surprising thing about this show, for me, was the Emily Carr work. Now, we all know who Emily Carr is…..grande dame (wouldn’t she laugh?!) of Canadian painting. I’ve seen a few Emily Carr paintings in my day (see April 30 blog posting) BUT I was blown away by the powerful paintings displayed here. Wow. This is Emily Carr at her finest.
Old Time Coast Village 1929-1930 oil on canvas
Abstract Tree Forms 1931-1932 oil on paper
Kudos to the VAG for two very strong, non-blockbuster, Canadian content shows. (And, yes! They have a great cafeteria.)
….if you’re anywhere near Vancouver this summer. The Art Caravan made a quick trip to Vancouver to see Lost in the Memory Palace: Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It is definitely worth the trip. You should go. Really.
I first saw one of their works, The Paradise Institute, at Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art in Winnipeg in 2003. A few of my neighbours had expressed an interest in ‘learning about art.’ I chose The Paradise Institute for our initial excursion. ( I mean, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 2001 with The Paradise Institute. So why not start with something great, right?!)
Ha! It turned out to be ‘immersion in art.’ Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s installations are full on sensory experiences. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Sound as art? Role playing as part of the art experience? What the heck just happened???
We certainly had lots to talk about at ‘happy hour’ after that art field trip.
There are seven (yes! seven) of their installations at the VAG, including the title piece, Lost in the Memory Palace.Go straight up to the fourth floor, (ignore Douglas Copeland for the moment) and don’t miss any of them.
The Paradise Institute (exterior) by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller
The Paradise Institute (interior) by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller