This past Saturday, the CAG held its monthly Family Day. Participants crafted landscape collages in response to Kelly Richardson’s Legion. A few of the volunteers and I decided to have a little fun and create our own! From the beginning of my piece’s construction, I had a vague idea of what I wanted my collage to look like. Halfway through, however, I realized it had completely changed as I sorted through the materials we had and gained new inspiration.
Experiencing this process myself got me thinking about the art-making process in general. Artists may start with a certain idea about how they want a piece to look, but the finished product is often very different from the initial plan.
On looking through the CAG exhibition archives, an exhibition in 2010 by artist Elizabeth McIntosh, Violet’s Hair, explicitly seems to address the artistic process. Vancouver based, McIntosh is known for her abstract paintings. When one looks closely at many of her canvasses, faint clues to how the paintings have evolved can be seen. As well as a selection of paintings McIntosh also transformed a gallery room into a collage itself. Colours From a Story (2010) overlaid large, colourful pieces of paper in various sizes creating a sculptural representation of her art-making process. This piece addressed how McIntosh approaches painting; various colours overlapping creating new shapes and the painting itself revealing process and change.
This idea can also be applied to how we view art ourselves. Approaching art that we have never before seen, we often do so with uncertainty. One can never know how the experience will be until we are in front of it and letting our imagination run wild. Sometimes it is useful to wait to read about an exhibition until after you go through it for the first time, allowing yourself to creatively contemplate what it means to you at first glance.
We hope that you will visit us at the CAG for the next family day on Saturday, August, 30 (12-3pm) to enjoy the making and the experience of art.
- Kelli Sturkenboom, Communications intern
The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a survey exhibition of work by Canadian artist Kelly Richardson, best known for her immersive projection works which create environments prompting a questioning of our relationship to the natural world.
The universe Richardson constructs can seem somewhat bleak, devoid of all but the strangest forms of life, and notionally touching upon issues within ecological discussion and environmental debate. Yet if we consider nature not as omniscient, but mediated, appropriated, subjugated and vulnerable, then by examining any simple concept of the “natural”, Richardson actually makes the interrogation even more urgent. Immense and unsettling projections show animated scenes of primordial swamps or forests, desolate moonscapes or eerie holographic trees flickering in and out of view. And yet the videos are open-ended, drawing us in to develop our own narratives for these unsettling scenes, which could be humanity’s last attempt at caring for a ruined planet. Even though she leaves the questions unanswered, it’s clear that she is suggesting we should project farther into the future than we’re comfortable doing, a quality enhanced in understanding how these works are made. A particular quality in Richardson’s videos– in addition to technical facility and her embrace of beauty as a way to prime us about the disturbing undercurrents snaking through her otherwise seductive work – is the way she seems to look back from the future.
The exhibition comprises a selection of recent major projections and photographs. In the large-scale, multi-screen installation of Leviathan (2011) we are confronted with an all-encompassing projection. Through the image and its reflections on walls and floors, it occupies or rather infiltrates the space, implicating us as audience as we simultaneously behold and are contained within the image. It asserts itself, with its Biblical title, as suggestive of some kind of apocalyptic flood, the swirling water appearing to almost envelop and swallow up the viewer. The works too are in many other ways absorbing; they elicit a terrible beauty through the seduction of surface. And yet this slow, churning motion becomes almost hypnotic, a narcotic mesmerizing image, an illusion perhaps not at odds with the evocation of a notional poisonous or toxic liquid; a substance that is at once of our world but at the same time transforming, of becoming somewhere else.
Richardson’s work touches also on the notion of the sublime, that mixture of awe, hope and fear that reveals something uncomfortable about the depth and darkness of human desire. While technically pristine, in part through the process of computer manipulation and invention of form, her work has precedents in sources as seemingly disparate as the romantic landscape paintings of the late 18th century or the B-horror and science-fiction films of the 1970s and 80s. She has stated: “I’m interested in that contradiction at this critical time in human history when current predictions for our future are not just unsettling, but terrifying.”
The notion of the artificial is brought to bear in contemplation of what might be considered natural, in part reinforced by the visual polish of the moving images, which reach the point where most viewers are unable to distinguish between what is real and what is computer-generated. In Orion Tide, (2013) we see rocks and foliage littering the ground, convincing us of some form of scrub land. Then an eerie, distant sound warns us of that which follows, the slow eruption of a lit pod from the surface. Trails of flame and smoke lead the eye up through the dark sky and then out of sight, followed by another and another and another. Are they escape pods —final humans abandoning all hope— or are they a death rattle of a dying planet? Richardson deftly avoids simplistic environmental and sci-fi cliché with a painterly sense of narrative mystery.
The exhibition is developed in collaboration with the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, UK; Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, UK; Towner, Eastbourne, UK and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. An extensive monograph accompanies the exhibition.MORE
CJSF interns Ana Costa + Anh Dang interview New York visual and video artist Maryam Jafri about her work AVALON (2011), which is Contemporary Art Gallery’s June 2014 exhibition The Act Of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes.
Jafri weaves themes of production, representation and role playing throughout her work.
Aired originally on CJSF’s Spoken Word Surprise July 1st (Tuesday 4pm)
Includes notes from CAG curator and excerpts from the June 26th artist talk.
Talk info + audio: www.contemporaryartgallery.ca/learning/a…yam-jafri/MORE
To mark the end of Kelly Richardson’s 15 year survey exhibition ‘Legion’ with its final installment this summer at the Contemporary Art Gallery Vancouver (July 11-Sept 7, 2014), a series of new limited edition prints have been produced and are now on offer.
The Erudition (IV & V) are brand new prints adding to the existing large scale video installation and C-prints. As an edition of 100, they can be purchased either singly or as a pair. Editions 1-20 will be sold only as a pair.
Kelly Richardson - The Erudition (IV & V), 2010
C-prints, edition of 100.
For sale as a set of two for $450 or sold individually for $250 each. To order please email firstname.lastname@example.org, thank you.
These prints are ordered from the artist with an additional shipping cost of $20, shipping from the UK.MORE
UK based artist Kelly Richardson has won international acclaim for her large scale, multi-channel video installations. This superbly illustrated retrospective of audiovisual installations works is the first retrospective publication featuring an extensive look at the UK-based Canadian born artist's audiovisual installation works of the last fifteen years. The Last Frontier is a comprehensive survey of Richardson’s artistic output, features four beautiful cover options to choose from, and includes essays by Alistair Robinson, Holly E. Hughes and Kelly Gordon and an introduction by Ryan Doherty and Louis Grachos. Designed by Three Legged Dog Design.
This publication is available in a choice of three covers, Orion Tide, Leviathan and Mariner.
*Special exhibition price of $40, only during the exhibition.MORE