06 December 2016

ALEX JANVIER’S TRIUMPH

MASTHEAD

06 December 2016

Volume 1 Number 2 Copyright 2016

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
editor@gallerieswest.ca
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Consulting Editor Jeffrey Spalding
Reviews Editor reviews@gallerieswest.ca
Contributors Doug Maclean, Melanie Scott, Helena Wadsley
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Alex Janvier, "Cold Lake Air," 1994, acrylic on linen, 36" x 30" Collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Edmonton, ©Alex Janvier

COVER STORY

Alex Janvier’s National Triumph

Alex Janvier rises from his wheelchair to speak at a preview of his captivating retrospective, on view at the National Gallery of Canada until April 17. He’s 81 but still cuts an impressive figure as he reflects on the long road that brought him – and more than 150 of his distinctive paintings and drawings – to this symbolic heart of the Canadian art world. Janvier is only the third indigenous artist, after Norval Morrisseau and Daphne Odjig, to be honoured with a solo retrospective at the Ottawa gallery. His unscripted remarks touch on hockey, fishing, his family and his affection for his home in Cold Lake, Alta., but also include more pointed observations about bureaucracies and the irony of a system of cultural genocide that also gave him a gift: the opportunity to paint. More ►

– Melanie Scott

Allyson Glenn, "Caught in a Tailings Pond," 2014, acrylic and oil on canvas, 66" x 78” (detail)

FIVE THINGS

Toxic Leak a Catalyst for Paintings

1

Four years ago, Saskatoon artist Allyson Glenn made a horrifying discovery – her home was atop a toxic leak from an old heating oil tank. By odd coincidence, she had just started a series of paintings about an imaginary catastrophe, work soon overtaken by this real-life crisis. Glenn, a figurative painter who teaches at the University of Saskatchewan, represents that experience in Catalyst, on view at the Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, B.C., until Jan. 8. The paintings include an image of predator and prey fleeing as a crowd watches a raging fire. Another shows Glenn’s husband, backlit and wearing a respirator, peering down into a cavernous pit below the house. One painting, Caught in a Tailings Pond, speaks directly to her emotional state. Glenn depicts herself in a fetal pose as seen from above, the couple’s contaminated belongings swirling around her. Glenn says toxins from such leaks can penetrate a cement floor, move into insulation, drywall or even furniture and other household items. “Once they have entered an object they off-gas for many years,” she says. “Even though the air may seem clean and there is no visible evidence of oil, a site can be toxic with carcinogens, and essentially poisonous – with serious consequences for human health.” It took 18 months to clean up the site. In the end, they decided to sell, and continue to live happily in the rented house they fled to during the remediation work. More images ►

– Portia Priegert

 

Lawren Harris, "Mountain Forms," circa 1926, oil on canvas, 60" x 70"

FIVE THINGS

Lawren Harris Reaches New Peak

2

Canada’s auction market reached a dizzying pinnacle last month as a record of $11.2 million was set for a Canadian painting, Mountain Forms, by Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris. The dramatic spike in value, due in part to recent exhibitions and films about Harris, also propelled the overall sale into what the Heffel auction house called the highest-grossing art auction in Canadian history. Mountain Forms more than doubled the previous record, held for some 15 years by Paul Kane’s Scene in the Northwest: Portrait of John Henry Lefroy. The price, which includes $9.5 million on the hammer and an 18-per-cent premium, kicked dirt at the pre-auction estimate of $3 million to $5 million. Mountain Forms, painted around 1926, portrays Mount Ishbel in the Alberta Rockies, and was sold by Calgary-based Imperial Oil, which had owned the work since 1984. The painting was included in The Idea of North, the blockbuster Harris exhibition  this year at the Art Gallery of Ontario, a show that also travelled to Los Angeles and Boston. The Heffel auction, which yielded a total of $41 million in sales, also moved eight other pieces above the million-dollar mark, including work by A.J. Casson, Tom Thomson and Bill Reid. Toronto auction houses Waddington’s and Consignor Canadian Fine Art also saw good, though more modest, results in their fall sales. Doug Maclean’s review ►

Anne Drew Potter, "Vanitas," 2015, ceramic, wood, fabric, plastic and metal, detail of installation view

FIVE THINGS

Vanity in the Digital Age

3

Anne Drew Potter’s fascinating ceramic sculptures explore how social meaning is projected onto the human body, essentially how we construct identities and act out roles. The California-born artist manipulates anatomical signifiers of gender, race, age and the like, hoping to prompt viewers to confront their feelings about normalcy, difference and what makes us human. Her work, Vanitas, for instance, on display at the Alberta Craft Council until Dec. 24 as part of a three-person show, Mise en Scene, is a reflection on vanity. “Vanity is the vice of the digital age,” Potter notes in a statement about her work. “We contemplate our own image in a narcissistic sea of Facebook self-celebrity, suffering ever more constrainment of the senses. We admire the obscene and unchecked accumulation of wealth, the democratization of purchasing power, authority and ownership – a psychological reality slightly apart from our shared existence.” Recently a visiting instructor at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Potter holds an MFA from the New York Academy of Art and has lived and worked in Mexico and Germany. Mise en Scene, a French term that refers to the design of theatre and film productions, also features work by two other artists, Triniruth Bautista, a Filipino-Canadian ceramic artist, and E.M. Alysse Bowd, a Red Deer, Alta., artist who recently earned her Master’s degree at NSCAD University in Halifax. More images ►

Linda Lindemann, "More Snow Coming - Ardrossan," oil on canvas, 20” x 60”

FIVE THINGS

Muted, Spare Images

4

If you grew up on the Prairies, Linda Lindemann’s landscapes may evoke a nostalgic ache. Their spareness, of course, with pictorial space occupied by singular or scattered objects – a barn, hay bales, even the occasional grain elevator – speaks to the land’s spacious character. But more than that, Lindemann’s muted colours, their grey undertones a nod to the low light of dusk and dawn, and perhaps even to the landscapes of her Dutch ancestry, batten a deeper quietude. There’s no hint of wind, or roads or tangled grasses, as in More Snow Coming –  Ardrossan, just an oblong outbuilding deposited into muted fields. Like Lawren Harris, who Lindemann cites as an influence, she reduces form to its essentials, removing any distractions. “It’s a real intuitive feeling, a gut impulse to place things how I do,” she says. “I’m always striving for simplicity.” Lindemann, who came to Canada with her parents at age four and grew up on a farm in central Alberta, is self-taught. She has always drawn and painted, but it was only with the birth of her eldest daughter, now a teenager, that she decided to try earning a living from her art. She is represented by the Elevation Gallery in Canmore, Alta., and Edmonton’s Peter Robertson Gallery, where her work is featured as part of a holiday group show that runs Dec. 8 to Dec. 23. Some of Lindemann’s newest paintings show mountain terrain, but she also continues to paint the farmland around her home near Sherwood Park, where she and her husband moved in 2014 after two decades in Edmonton. They call their 40 acres the Red Hen Farm – and do, indeed, have many red hens. “They lay beautiful brown eggs that we give to our friends,” she says. More images ►

Portia Priegert

Tim Gardner, "Man on Highway, Going for Gas," 2016, oil on canvas, 32.4” x 28” Courtesy of the artist, Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver, and 303 Gallery, New York

FIVE THINGS

Tim Gardner Contemplates Romanticism

5

A puff of breath condenses in the cooling air of dusk as a solitary man, clad in a parka, trudges down a highway flanked by densely forested mountains. He carries a jerry can. It’s a stirring scene because we can easily imagine being alone in the cold desolation of the Canadian wilderness where danger lurks. Tim Gardner, who exhibited at the Monte Clark Gallery in Vancouver  from Oct. 15 to Nov. 12, returned to oil paints a year ago, long after trading them for the watercolours that brought him international attention. His earlier works depict both camaraderie and bravado between young male friends; in many the landscape has a strong presence. Gardner felt encouraged to abandon oils in the late 1990s because watercolours were less associated with contemporary trends in figurative painting, allowing him to develop his own painting language. Now using oils again, he’s content to pick up the thread of a lineage that reaches further back to Caspar David Friedrich and Winslow Homer, artists known for romanticized landscapes or seascapes with figurative elements. More ►

– Helena Wadsley 

 

 

Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, "Opytnoe Pole, Kazakhstan, Semipalatinsk nuclear test site," 2012, gelatin silver print, dimensions variable, Courtesy of the artist

NEWS ROUNDUP

German Wins Photography Prize

German photographer Ursula Schulz-Dornburg has won a prestigious $50, 000 international award overseen by the Art Gallery of Ontario. Chosen by public vote, the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize recognizes Canadian and international artists whose work has shown extraordinary potential over the last five years. The Canadian finalist was Elizabeth Zvonar, a Vancouver artist who graduated from the Emily Carr University Art and Design in 2001. She and the other runners-up, American artist Talia Chetrit and French artist Jimmy Robert, each received $5,000. Schulz-Dornburg uses the house as a central image in her work to investigate themes around architecture and its destruction. A show by the four finalists remains open until Jan. 1 at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It can also be viewed at the prize’s website.

In other news:

  • British Columbia philanthropist Michael Audain has pledged $2 million to support the expansion of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Audain is chairman of Polygon Homes, one of the province’s leading home builders.
  • The new home of Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver is 70 per cent complete. The new campus, at Great Northern Way, is slated to open next fall. Check out the time lapse video.
  • The Remai Modern in Saskatoon has commissioned Saskatchewan artist Kara Uzelman for its latest web-based art project, Extra-Sensory Perception Experiment with the Grateful Dead. Her December project, part of an ongoing series leading up to the gallery’s opening next year, was inspired by LSD research done in Saskatchewan during the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Work has begun on the Kenojuak Cultural Centre and Print Shop in Cape Dorset, Nunavut. The 10,000-square-foot centre, which includes exhibition space and artist studios, is expected to open in 2018.

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