Site For Still Life
October 13 – December 31, 2017
The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the most comprehensive solo exhibition in a public gallery to date of work by Vancouver-based artist Andrew Dadson.
Dadson has consistently engaged with the notion of boundaries in relation to space and time in his work, primarily through investigations with materiality, process and abstraction. Comprising new, ambitious large-scale paintings, film and installation, the gallery is given over to Dadson, whereby the exhibition presents a major statement by this young artist of propositions core to his practice.
Through different mediums – painting, film, and photography – Dadson explores the possibility to cross the perceptual boundaries of space, both physical and natural, and is thus reflected in his work in an attempt to subvert our perception and usual ways of looking. The works on display reiterate engagement with a core of ideas, suggesting performative actions to form a visual kaleidoscope.
Central to the exhibition is House Plants (2017), a new installation using plant forms and objects sprayed a single colour and lit by intense daylight lamps, Dadson’s most ambitious work to date. Sitting on a raised platform staged in the gallery, this large-scale piece echoes with contemporary “green” walls in Vancouver’s architecture, hinting at moments when nature is co-opted into urban space, nominally connecting to the remarkable landscape for which Vancouver is arguably best known. For the first time, using a biodegradable white paint instead of previous versions with black paint, the forms dissolve into the gallery environment. The cast shadows of red and blue light introduce colour where there appears to be none, revealing forms that initially seem white-washed away. As such, the result is a sort of temporary phantom, almost a deletion, and yet an intervention which is destined to fade away when nature once again prevails over the artist’s action. As the organic matter grows over the duration of the exhibition, the unifying painted colour will crack and splinter. New shoots will emerge to reveal fresh, natural colours, reinforcing Dadson’s key proposition in exposing temporal and perceptual shifts. Furthermore, the plants themselves have already undergone conceptual and physical layering, change and dislocation. The tropical palms are already decontextualized, having been brought from the domestic setting in which we usually see them to the gallery, but also from their native place of origin. In many ways we might consider Dadson’s intervention a transitory and frozen moment within a larger cycle of attention, oscillating between care and indifference.
In addition to this ambitious installation is a series of new monochromatic paintings, demonstrating fresh twists on Dadson’s familiar oeuvre. These large-scale paintings, with their surfaces constructed like sculptural elements integrated in their architectural setting, contain colour, which is poured, spread out, layered and scraped towards the edges, while also built into forms creating internal structure to the compositions as a whole. Almost reaching the limits of the painting space, the sheer materiality of the painted surface acquires an almost organic, material thickness. It appears as tangible evidence of the artist’s action and of the process of making that led to the creation of the work. The final layer of white leaves glimpses of other colours in filigree, in a cross-reference to the tradition of American abstract painting, from Rothko to Reinhardt, and Pollock to Rauschenberg.
The modestly scaled White Restretch with Dirt (2017) is a characteristic of an ongoing sequence for Dadson. Here however, instead of colour emerging along its edges, we see hints of earth and mud, creating a visual correspondence to House Plants. Alongside pigment, naturally occurring materials have been incorporated to shape and form the piece, to reinforce a connection to landscape and materially speak to the sense of fluidity and flux inherent in such environments. Nothing including the work itself, Dadson seems to suggest, is ever in stasis.
In contrast to the B.C. Binning Gallery where ideas and forms are presented in all-white, the Alvin Balkind Gallery is painted black and in darkness. Such duality, black/white, on/off, inside/outside, light/shadow, is a device that both conceptually and thematically connects Dadson’s work across each medium, providing logic to the exhibition as a whole. Uniting individual works and further elaborating Dadson’s artistic proposition, we present a newly remade twin 16mm film work from the artist’s research into painting techniques in relation to those of photography. Using two projectors that simultaneously show a single film threaded between them, Sunrise/Sunset (2017) depicts the sun concurrently rising and setting on opposite walls. In an ongoing loop, the space of a day is compressed into a revolving moment. The result of this technical tour de force is a play on light and dark, presence and absence, a temporary black hole. The film acts almost as a deletion akin to the temporal concerns evidenced in House Plants, which are destined to fade away when nature prevails over the artist’s action. As well as locating this within the broader cycles of change and renewal, the film smartly continues Dadson’s preoccupation with evolving shifts and the very materiality and processes of making.
We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of Phil Lind as presenting sponsor; wings+horns as major sponsor and additional support from Jan and Mark Ballard and production support from Cineworks.