Posts Tagged ‘Canadian Art’

Joshua Barndt
Jan 8th – Feb 6th 2010
XPACE Cultural Centre

Joshua Barndt - Limbo - 2010 (Installation shot from Barndt's website)

As I boldly stepped into the basement of XPACE I entered another world or environment created by Joshua Barndt. A new world at the end of the world, the limbo after an Apocalypse. Remnants of old cars buried in mounds soil, revealing convenient tiered spaces for wild gardens. Amongst these remains, Barndt planted wheat grass which grew in perfectly straight lines; seeming synthetic in their stiffness, but organic in actuality.  I witnessed one viewer who was unsure of the nature of the grass then, I gasped,  he pulled some of the grass out of the installation to further examine whether or not it was plastic or organic. Conversely, I asked a gallery attendant, though I did kneel and examined, with my eye, the grass trying to guess whether it was plastic or biological. Despite the viewer’s destruction, I should applaud Barndt for creating such a thoroughly illusionistic installation causing a viewer to have to pull apart the work to be convinced of its organic nature.*

Lights in the installation were strategically placed to provided limited illumination as well as energy for the grass to grow. The wheat grass was freshly planted, since I could still see the soil surrounding the individual blades of grass. I admittedly went and saw Limbo the first day it opened, which has constantly made me think back to exhibition and how it must look now. Did the grass survive? It is more lush? How does it smell now? Has the discarded trash vanished in a sea of green? I am imagining it growing (bad pun) and changing while I am away from it. I am always curious about how it will look from one day to the next and that is why I enjoyed this installation. Limbo is different every time a viewer visits it. Limbo is a rare installation that I wanted and encouraged others to visit more than once.

* As a general courtesy, one should never touch or move a work of art without the expressed permission of the Artist.  Not touching, while difficult, will save you and the Artist the anguish of damaging a work of art. If you are unsure whether it is appropriate to touch the work, ask the gallery attendant first.

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"Untitled (Mauve Landscape - Yellow Bars)" Acrylic on Canvas, 2009 48 x 48 inMichael Gibson Gallery

May 1- 23 2009

By Diana Poulsen

Prominent and distinguished Winnipeg based artist Wanda Koop ‘s painting and video career spans three decades and including over 50 solo exhibitions. Her paintings in The View from Here, while all under a grand narrative, branch out into three different types. Several combine landscapes with monolithic bars of colour which resemble the indicator bars from surveying instruments and camera balances, reminiscent of her Sightlines series from 2000. These landscapes have an insistence to look at nature through tools rather than with our own eyes , removing the viewer one step further from the actual action occurring. A few of the works that feature weaved beams or lattices, possibly cages, which create fictional brutalist architectural forms in her paintings.

The other paintings include structures that resemble billboards, of which several figures or occasionally a single figure will be observing action that appears to be occurring on the screen in some far off place. The figures in the billboard paintings stare into the monitors, whether a screen depicting a topographical map, strange other worlds and emptiness. I am reminded of drive-in movie theatres by the placement of billboard in natural spaces and their stark juxtaposition in the scene creates an sense of absurdity about the figure’s voyeurism. It seems as though these figures, like T.V viewers, watch everything through a screen and their sole interaction with the world is based on their spectator relationship with these monitors. It is poignant reference our time’s fascinating with constant and immediate news coverage, our omnipresence observation of all events that transpire in the world. However, Koop’s painting also indicate our sheer disconnection to the entire world, as we have become observers and no longer participants.

"Untitled (Miracle)" Acrylic on Canvas, 2009 18 x 24 in.Despite this cold disconnection from the world, there is oddly a strange sense of hopefulness while watching the world go on without people. This sense of hope is likely because of the warmer pastel colours that Koop employs, as well as Untitled (Miracle) 2009 as recognizable as reference to the Miracle of surviving a a plane crash on the Hudson river. Reminding that despite all the tragedy that we watch on our screen, occasionally something reminds that miracles happen.

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I noticed recently that Canadian art magazine has extended their writing prize submissions until this friday. I am about a third done my submission, but I can’t think of a second artist or topic to write about. I am stumped, well,  actually torn. It can only be a total of 1000 words and it has to be 2 pieces of writing. Not enough to write about the state of Canadian art criticism (it’s lack of existence) or a well thought out profile on a particular artist.

figuresigninverweaveMy first piece is about Wanda Koop‘s recent exhibition at the Micheal Gibson Gallery in London Ontario, and I want my second piece to show my diversity as a writer. I am debating writing about another Canadian artist (non painter and up and coming), or possibly Jeppe Hein’s recent sculpture project in BC.  My other thought is to write about an artist who I have a lot of research on, but I don’t particularly enjoy, by that I mean I don’t find myself having a conversation about their work.  I need to be passionate about the work, either love it or hate it. I can’t seem to write about something I feel  indifference towards.

I’ve once again answered my own question. Write the  passionate submission and not the easy one.

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