Despite recently arriving in Vancouver as the new Director, I was already back in the UK in February to install the exhibition Endless façade with artist Robert Orchardson. Orchardson was born in Dundee and now lives in London. Here’s an image of the first room at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. A version of this ambitious new installation comes to the CAG in November.
The exhibition partially revisits stage sets designed by Isamu Noguchi in 1955 for a Royal Shakespeare Company production of King Lear. His proposals aspired to an other-worldly feeling where abstract, mobile forms created a shifting landscape against which the play unfolded. However, the designs were met with damning criticism and regarded unsympathetic. For Orchardson, who appropriates various forms and reconfigures them as prototypes for ideas, the inherent modernist idealism and eventual redundancy of the designs become carriers for something beyond themselves. Here’s a preview of some more rooms with huge monochrome cement walls acting as backdrops for a series of prop-like forms.
As well as the exhibition we’re working on a catalogue in collaboration with Ikon, the first devoted entirely to the work of Robert Orchardson.
The nature of Orchardson’s work with its references to modernist architecture and theatre design, mean the occasion of his exhibition here will mark an appropriate moment to celebrate Abraham Rogatnick’s ongoing legacy of support for the CAG. We plan to host a number of events in honour of his memory.
More blogs from me soon.
This was the first exhibition in Canada of work by British artist Robert Orchardson. Inspired by science fiction films and the work of architects and designers who engage with ways of thinking about the future, Orchardson is all too aware of the inherent paradox in visualizing the unknown, any attempt immediately foiled as it becomes instantly familiar. In setting out to imagine ‘things to come’, such endeavours unavoidably speak to us of the here and now. For Orchardson, his artistic proposition compels us to reassess utopias of the past, this revisiting however more than a mere act of longing. Instead it implies a restaging of unfulfilled possibilities as he grapples with fresh meaning and opportunity.
Approached through a triangular opening at the CAG, the wall construction pervaded the whole gallery, reinforcing the deliberate sense of entering another world. Against this, the series of coloured objects resemble the amorphous motifs that feature in paintings by surrealist artist Yves Tanguy. The result was an environment that speaks of competing implications of potential and redundancy; abstraction versus figuration; the immediate present as opposed to somewhere else.MORE
Aelita: Queen of Mars (USSR, 1924)
Director: Jakov Protazanov
Film Screening at Pacific Cinematheque
Programmed on the occasion of Orchardson’s Endless Façade this marks a partnership between the Contemporary Art Gallery and Pacific Cinematheque. The most celebrated Soviet film until Battleship Potemkin, and perhaps second only to Metropolis as the most influential science fiction movie of the silent era, the exotic, extravagant Aelita — the world’s first-ever feature film about interplanetary travel — is a key example of Constructivist decor and costume.
Black and white, DVD, 111 minutes. Silent with English intertitles and musical score.MORE
This limited edition print was produced to coincide with the exhibition by Robert Orchardson Endless façade at the CAG in 2011.
Study for Endless façade
Limited Edition Giclée print - Edition of 50
13 x 18.5 inches - unframed
This catalogue is the first publication devoted entirely to the work of Robert Orchardson, and includes a text by Matthew Rampley, and accompanies the Contemporary Art Gallery exhibition, Robert Orchardson, Endless façade, November 17, 2011 to January 15, 2012 and Endless façade at Ikon Gallery February 23 to April 25, 2011. Co-produced with Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK.MORE