9 May 2017

ASIAN ART AND CALLIGRAPHY

MASTHEAD

09 May 2017

Volume 2 Number 10 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

Galleries West Digital is an online magazine published every second Tuesday to promote and advance the visual arts. Launched in 2016, it replaces the print version of Galleries West magazine, which covered art and artists in Western Canada for 15 years. Our award-winning website, gallerieswest.ca, the repository for all content, is an open archive of information about the arts in communities large and small throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columba as well as Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

 

Editor Portia Priegert
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Contributors Beverly Cramp, Paul Gessell, Karen Quinn
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Kimura Tsubasa, "Outline," 2007, sumi ink on faille fabric, 4' x 23' each, courtesy of the artist, photo by Fuyubi Nakamura

COVER STORY

Asian Art and Calligraphy

Calligraphy, the art of fine writing, is more than beautiful penmanship. This is especially true in Asia, with its great diversity of languages. Chinese, for instance, with characters that number in the tens of thousands, elevates the act of writing to more than mere communication – it becomes an aesthetic process. The blending of characters and images is also common in Asia, where words are combined with other visual elements to add greater experiential dimensions. These ideas are explored in Traces of Words: Art and Calligraphy from Asia, on view at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver from May 11 to Oct. 9. The title is explained in an essay by the curator, Fuyubi Nakamura, who says the show’s theme is “physical traces of time and space” both ephemeral and eternal to human life. “We leave traces of ourselves throughout life, be they visible or invisible,” she writes in the exhibition essay. “Words, whether spoken, written, imagined or visualized, are traces unique to humans. Some words disappear, while others remain only in memory or leave physical traces as writing or text.” More ►

– Beverly Cramp

Pablo Picasso, "Seated Woman (Femme assise)," 1927, oil on canvas, 51.5" x 38.5" Art Gallery of Ontario, purchased, with assistance from the Women's Committee and anonymous contributions, 1954, 63/44 ©Picasso Estate / SODRAC (2017)

FIVE THINGS

Picasso’s Lust and Violence in Winnipeg

1

Love, lust and violence are arriving at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, thanks to the innovative, volatile and philandering Pablo Picasso. Two simultaneous Picasso exhibitions are at the gallery from May 13 to Aug. 13. One, from the National Gallery of Canada, is Picasso: Man and Beast, a complete set of the 100 allegorical prints in the Vollard Suite. The other is Picasso in Canada – 30 paintings, prints and ceramics the gallery gathered from across the country to reveal how the artist is “received and collected” in Canada, says curator Andrew Kear. As in most Picasso shows, expect to encounter a partial roadmap of the artist’s tumultuous love life, a trail of acquired and discarded lovers. The untitled prints known as the Vollard Suite were commissioned, with no particular topic in mind, by Picasso’s Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard in 1930. Completed by 1939, they were not marketed until the 1950s because of the Second World War. The National Gallery bought its set in 1957 and exhibited selections in Winnipeg in 1959. This time the complete set is on display. More ►

– Paul Gessell

James Wyper, "Artemisia Absinthium," 2016, acrylic on canvas, 40" x 38.5"

FIVE THINGS

James Wyper’s Transcendent Paintings

2

When I meet West Coast artist James Wyper at the Masters Gallery in Calgary, where his show, Transcend is on view until May 20, I tell him I have a brother who lives in Munich. I tell him there is a room there where one can sit all day and stare at Cy Twombly’s Lepanto, a dozen panels that depict a pivotal 1571 naval battle between the Christians and the Ottomans off the coast of Greece. I tell Wyper that a single mesmerizing triangle in one of his paintings evokes all the emotion, call it a pang, if you will, of this experience, distant in both space and time. I tell him I miss my brother. And Wyper tells me that the purpose of an artist is to ground consciousness in reality. He tells me his state of being while painting transcends, and that when I look at one of his paintings my consciousness makes a unique version only I can see. He tells me his paintings are not abstractions, but in some ways like landscapes. And they are no more an abstraction and no less a landscape than the sunlight dispersed and dappled by fluttering leaves or the pound and spray of surf hitting black rock and pale sand. He tells me he prepares the ground layer freely, with instinct and intuition. Then he disciplines it with meticulous geometry. And so Wyper’s paintings reflect back to us the dichotomies of our lives – the dying of fall and the birth of spring, the struggle between seeking perfection and the spontaneous thrill of the imperfect, the freedom of our consciousness pressed against our worldly constraints, all balanced like gently tipping scales. More Images ►

– Karen Quinn

Linda Duvall, "Untitled (The Hole)," 2013-2017

FIVE THINGS

Saskatchewan Artist Linda Duvall Sits in a Hole

3

Tim Lilburn lived for a time in the arid lands of rural Saskatchewan, sleeping outdoors, watching the deer and digging a root cellar, all the while yearning for a union with the natural world. “You dig in the ground because you want to see,” he wrote in his 1994 poetry collection, Moosewood Sandhills, and: “You will wait here / in the slow place. / You will wait in a hole.” Artist Linda Duvall lives on similar land an hour’s drive south of Saskatoon, and she too has dug a hole, although in her case it is more accurately described as a trench, five feet wide and six feet deep, that circumnavigates a rose bush. Her initial impulse was more prosaic than poetic – she was curious about the plant’s root system, which extends deep into the glacial till above the South Saskatchewan River. “There’s something about the hole that’s so beautiful and so moving,” says Duvall, who is known for social art projects that explore things like grief, truth and intimacy, often through one-on-one conversations with strangers. “This land has never been tilled, so it’s this thick sod over your head, and the wind blowing through these grasses.” After living with the hole for five years, and documenting it in photographs, Duvall decided she wanted to share it with others. She put out a call inviting applications for informal short-term residencies, unsure what to expect. The response was overwhelming. Last week, 44 people from across Canada, and as far away as Europe, began arriving to spend a six-hour shift in the hole with Duvall. Some will read or sing. Others will meditate or dig. “There are a certain number of people who just want to be with the dirt,” says Duvall. “Often it was a combination of being physically in the space and open to what might happen. I say that on an emotional level, as well as the physical.” The sessions, which continue until June 17, are being videotaped and screened the following day at Paved Arts, an artist-run centre in Saskatoon, as part of a collaborative exhibition, In the Hole. More ►

– Portia Priegert

 

Valerie Butters, "Une Fille, c'est une fleur," 2016, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 96"

FIVE THINGS

Valerie Butters Uses Her Intuition

4

West Coast artist Valerie Butters gave herself a treat last year – a full year away from her commercial practice so she could explore her creativity without the demands of the marketplace. She had felt pulled in many directions, with people telling her what she should be doing. She needed to understand what she wanted to do. Her creative sabbatical, as she calls it, is over. But Butters says her work, including four large floral paintings on view at the Pousette Gallery in Vancouver until May 27 as part of a two-person show with Catherine Young Bates, is now more intuitive and gestural. “You can tell a true intuitive gesture from something that’s more contrived,” she says. “I’m trying to get away from the contrived side of it.” Butters, who is also represented by the Avenue Art Gallery in Victoria and the Tutt Street Gallery in Kelowna, is inspired by Quebec’s Automatiste painters, who were, in turn, influenced by surrealism and processes that emphasized the flow of consciousness. “It’s discovering your personal mark,” says Butters. “And that’s all energy that comes from inside you.” More ►

– Portia Priegert

Jan Grove, "Visitors from Pluto," 1971, brown engobe on fired earthenware, 31" x 14" photo Bob Matheson, collection of the artist

FIVE THINGS

Jan and Helga Grove: Life With Clay

5

Stepping into Life With Clay, a retrospective exhibition by Jan and Helga Grove on view at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria until May 28, is like turning back the clock. Two sculptures at the entry, Jan’s whimsical Explorer #1, and Helga’s Vanity, both dating from the time of Canada’s centennial, cause my brain to shuffle through old files: Where have I seen something like this before? Perhaps in an old publication about Expo 67? I never quite retrieve the memory, but it’s always fascinating to be plunged into a time machine. The two pieces are an apt introduction to the work of the German-trained couple, who have lived in the environs of Victoria since 1966. Vanity, a birdlike creature with spread wings, is accented with incised black lines. Explorer #1 looks like what you might get if you crossed a sea urchin with a pipefish – a round bulb with radiating snouty apertures that’s meant to evoke the Russian satellite Sputnik. Grove was fascinated by sci-fi, an interest also evident in his 1971 piece, Visitors from Pluto. More ►

– Portia Priegert

Claude Monet, "Nymphéas," 1916–1919, oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris. Photo © Bridgeman Giraudon/Press

NEWS ROUNDUP

Monet Blockbuster Opens in Vancouver

This summer’s blockbuster at the Vancouver Art Gallery is a crowd-pleasing show by French Impressionist Claude Monet. Billed as the most comprehensive Monet exhibition in Canada in the last two decades, Secret Garden includes 38 paintings from the collection of the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. Featured are paintings Monet made in his garden in Giverny, where he lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. Monet’s weeping willows and waterlilies have become icons of Western painting. The Vancouver show,  the only exhibition stop in North America, runs from June 24 to Oct. 1. It is partnered with a show by contemporary American photographer Stephen Shore, The Giverny Portfolio. Shore produced a body of work during several visits to Monet’s garden between 1977 and 1983. It’s the first time the entire series of 25 photographs, part of the gallery’s permanent collection, have been shown in Vancouver.
In other news:

  • The Canada Council for the Arts is experiencing serious technical issues with its new web portal that will slow down funding to artists and arts groups.
  • The National Gallery of Canada announced a $3-million restoration of the Canada Pavilion in the historic Giardini di Castello in Venice.
  • The Art Dealers Association of Canada is marking its 50th year with a national Gallery Hop on May 13. Some 50 galleries in 13 cities are participating in the event, which features talks with prominent artists, curators and art dealers.
  • Artist Charles Joseph of the Kwakiutl Nation has unveiled his Residential School Totem Pole in Montreal as part of La Balade pour la Paix – An Open-Air Museum, an exhibition of public art organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in conjunction with the city’s 375th anniversary.
  • Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes, a student at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design is the winner of the $5,000 Lind Prize for emerging photo-based artists in Vancouver.  Runners-up are Durrah Alsaif, from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and Natasha Habedus, from the University of British Columbia.
  • The Remai Modern’s latest web commission, Pretty Girl, by Duane Linklater, is based on a rock classic.
  • The Vancouver Art Gallery is hosting Deconstructing Diaspora, the inaugural symposium for the Institute of Asian Art, from May 18 to May 19.
  • Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art in Winnipeg has published Eleanor Bond: Mountain of Shame, which includes essays by Rodney LaTourelle and Johanne Sloan.

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