30 January 2018

FRIDA KAHLO

  FROM THE EDITOR

 

We're pleased to highlight two shows in this issue that are part of Exposure, Alberta’s annual photo festival. One is an international show at the Glenbow Museum that features a newly discovered trove of intimate images of iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The other is by Wyn Geleynse, whose humorous look at male identity and mid-life crisis is on view at the TrépanierBaer Gallery. Both shows are well worth a visit.

Wondering what else to check out during the February festival? My list for a trip to Calgary next month includes a group show at Paul Kuhn that features Edward Burtynsky, M.N. Hutchinson, Jennifer Wanner and other gallery artists. While downtown, I'm also planning to drop by VivianeArt to see Winter Garden. It's curated by Kathryn Ylitalo, who writes occasionally for Galleries West.

Meanwhile, across the Bow River, Calgary-based Olivier Du Tré, who recently published a book of black-and-white landscape photography, Seeking Stillness, is showing at Framed on Fifth. And Jeff Cruz, over at Inglewood Fine Arts, takes an experimental approach, using family slides from his childhood to create work that resembles colour field paintings.

The festival’s roots are in Banff, where Craig Richards, the photography curator of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, started the shutter clicking back in 1998. This year, the Whyte is presenting Encounters with the Sublime, photographs of Kluane National Park and Reserve along with other Yukon wilderness vistas by international stars Bradford Washburn and Sebastião Salgado. It promises to be a stunner.

Of course, these are just a few suggestions. The festival has a wealth of other offerings across the region that you can check out here.

Looking forward two weeks to the next issue, we're excited to hear more about the Vancouver Art Gallery's blockbuster, The Octopus Eats Its Own Legby Japanese art star Takashi Murakami. Vancouver arts writer John Thomson is getting a sneak peek this week of some 50 works in the three-decade retrospective, which pays tribute to Murakami's boundless imagination.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

30 January 2018

Volume 3 Number 3
Copyright 2018

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 Stacey Abramson, Paul Gessell, Janet Nicol, Lorna Tureski, Helen Wong
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Frida Kahlo with the doctor Juan Farill by Gisèle Freund, 1951 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

COVER STORY

Frida Kahlo Photographs in Calgary

Scores of Frida Kahlo fans converge daily, like pilgrims, to visit La Casa Azul, the late artist’s home in the ritzy Coyoacán area of Mexico City. Kahlo was born and died in this colonial-style building, now a museum. She haunts it still. Inside, the holiest relic is the artist’s death mask, placed on her four-poster bed and staring, seemingly for eternity, up at the mirror beneath the bed’s canopy. The cramped room pays tribute to a woman who created some of her most famous self-portraits in bed – at home or in hospital – seeking inspiration from her own reflection. Visitors to the cobalt-blue house can see Kahlo’s favourite Mexican peasant dress in her wardrobe. An easel and palette remain in her studio, as if ready for a new painting. Meals seem about to be prepared in the kitchen. Isabel Alcantara and Sandra Egnolff, in their 1999 book, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, wrote that it “all makes us expect the owners to walk in at any moment.” And, in a way, this celebrated husband-wife team did return to the house in 2007 when a box of 6,500 photographs, forgotten for half a century, was found in a storage room. The photos, some by Kahlo and others by friends and famous photographers, are more personal and candid than the more familiar images of a carefully staged woman in colourful dresses and ostentatious jewelry, her long, braided hair worn like a crown with ribbons and flowers. Since 2007, the museum’s exhibition of 240 of those photographs has been touring the world, including the United States, Brazil and Australia. On Feb. 3, Frida Kahlo: Her Photos opens at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. “The exhibition promises to reveal insights into Kahlo’s rich and deeply personal world, and tells a fascinating story of an artist, a place and an era,” says the Glenbow. The exhibition, part of Exposure, Alberta’s photography festival, continues until May 21. More ►
– Paul Gessell

Wyn Geleynse, “Just…,” 2002, single-channel rear-projected video loop, ground, approx. 200 alphabet blocks, video projector, size variable (courtesy the artist and TrépanierBaer Gallery, Calgary)

FIVE THINGS

The Art of Humour

1

Wyn Geleynse offers something often absent from contemporary art – humour. Take Just …, a multimedia installation that’s part of Geleynse’s exhibition, Slackwire and Other Situations, at Calgary’s TrépanierBaer Gallery from Jan. 31 to Feb. 24. A rear-projected video loop features a hapless middle-aged man, a character Geleynse often adopts, struggling to spit out children’s wooden blocks. “You can hear him gagging and choking, and then all of a sudden, there’s a block,” says Geleynse. “And he just goes through this over and over and over again. You can see he’s perspiring. He’s in a lot of discomfort. He tries to relax a little bit, but it just keeps coming. It’s like a bad case of hiccups.” In front of the video is a jumbled pile of real blocks that add to the effect. “It’s not a seamless illusion,” says Geleynse. “I think people fill in the gap between the video and the real thing.” The lettered blocks spell no words but it’s easy to read the piece as a reflection on the inability to communicate, a condition that reportedly afflicts some men. Geleynse, who speaks quickly and fluidly about his work, has been active in multimedia art for more than three decades. He was born in the Netherlands, but moved to London, Ont., with his parents as a child in 1953, eventually becoming part of the city’s lively art scene, where he was influenced by Murray Favro and the late Greg Curnoe. More ►
– Portia Priegert

 

Alexander Gorlizki and Riyaz Uddin Studio, “Quorum,” 2008, opaque watercolour and gold on inkjet digital print, 12” x 11” (on loan from the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. This acquisition was made possible with the generous support of the South Asia Acquisition and Research Fund. Image used with permission of the Royal Ontario Museum ©ROM)

FIVE THINGS

Photographs from South Asia

2

“Resist superficial readings of the photographs,” cautions Adrienne Fast, interim curator of the Kamloops Art Gallery, as she leads visitors through Re Present: Photography of South Asia, on view until March 31. Photography in the 19th and early 20th centuries developed along two parallel paths in India. On one, the British colonial government used it to create propaganda and to catalogue various groups and castes. An innocuous-looking photo of Mount Everest by British government photographer Samuel Bourne, taken in the late 1800s, required dozens of porters to haul masses of equipment over difficult terrain. “Think about the social dance, the structures of power that were in place to make this photo,” Fast says. The other path was enthusiastically taken by a wide spectrum of social classes and castes. Photo studios became social spaces where people who wouldn’t normally mingle came together, donned costumes and performed in front of the camera. Techniques of over-painting created striking, hyper-realistic images. Part of the exhibition features contemporary South Asian and Indo-Canadian artists who work with archival photos, updating and changing them, inserting the present into the past, confounding memory and encouraging viewers to question the validity of photographic records. The depth and breadth of Re Present, both in the number of works and the complexity of the issues it interrogates – colonialism, racism, migration and immigration, to name a few – demands much of viewers committed to looking deeply. I rest on a bench and watch a video by the Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective loop over and over. The subtle movements layered onto an archival photo bloom across the screen and for a moment I let my mind rest. It’s a lot to take in. More Images ►
– Lorna Tureski

 

Reva Stone, "Alphabet," 2017, digital video projection, dimensions variable (video still courtesy of the artist)

FIVE THINGS

What Flies Above Us

3

An uncomfortable and foreboding silence greets viewers walking into What Flies Above at Gallery 1C03 in Winnipeg until Feb. 17. The show, which comes as technological innovations rouse unsettled feelings about rapidly advancing mechanical bodies, features new work by Winnipeg artists Erika Lincoln and Reva Stone. They have researched separately for two years, exploring their own questions and discoveries about unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones. Both artists are long-time innovators in digital practice who connect the possibilities of technology to topics of ownership, spectacle and the natural world. Stone’s meditative and initially calming video, Alphabet, leads viewers into the exhibition with its sky-blue silence. The names of countries that have participated in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles float on and off the screen, allowing the show’s subject to emerge as the video progresses. Lincoln’s Strike Release: Sun Models-NGGH flashes subtly on a wall to its left. A natural yet unnerving companion to Stone’s work, it digitizes a list of air strikes in Syria, arousing curiosity about the rest of the exhibition. More ►
– Stacey Abramson

 

Marie Khouri, “Sphere,” 2017, bronze, 20” x 20” x 19"

FIVE THINGS

Bronzes Explore Wartime Memories

4

Marie Khouri’s exhibition, Bronze, explores her experiences growing up in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War. On view at Vancouver’s Equinox Gallery until Feb. 22, the show juxtaposes spheres in various states of disintegration with her signature curvilinear abstract forms, telling a story of regeneration and rebirth. Khouri’s Vessel and Sphere series encompass notions of loss and destruction through the act of making. She uses a lost-wax casting process, sculpting wax models and rupturing them with a torch, thus using an act of destruction to create. The hollowed vessels evoke the shattered buildings of Beirut, which Khouri left as a teenager after war broke out in the 1970s. Her beautiful objects, unable to become whole, are laden with a sense of melancholy. Standing in opposition to these pieces are three abstract sculptures. Polished to a mirror finish, they gleam under the gallery lights. At first glance, Abstract 1, Abstract 2 and Toi et Moi, all from 2017, seem like outliers compared to the delicate tactility of her Vessel and Sphere series. However, a distinct thread weaves these bodies of work together. In manipulating bronze, Khouri is grappling and coming to terms with personal loss. These works are not simply examinations of bronze as a medium, but representations of the cycle of decay and growth. More ►
– Helen Wong

Alexandra Bischoff, "Rereading Room: The Vancouver Women’s Bookstore (1973-1996)," 2016-2017, texts chosen from the 1973 Vancouver Women's Bookstore catalogue, detail of installation (courtesy of the artist, photo by Michael R. Barrick)

FIVE THINGS

That Seventies Show

5

The cleverly titled Rereading Room, an installation by Vancouver artist Alexandra Bischoff, is a centerpiece for Beginning with the Seventies: Glut, which celebrates art, archives and activism as they pertain to the women’s movement. On view at UBC’s Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery until April 8, Bischoff’s work consists of some 100 books assembled on shelves lined along a wall, covers facing outward. Viewers browsing the collection are transported back to the 1970s, when women awakened to the pervasive sexism around them aided by books such as Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch, Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman and Our Bodies, Ourselves, which takes a frank look at women’s health and sexuality. Bischoff based her archive on an early inventory list from the Vancouver Women’s Bookstore, a downtown fixture from 1973 to 1996. Additionally, 13 female artists and activists are occupying the installation, here in its second iteration, giving the work a performative dimension. At various times, they sit at the installation’s table or on the couch, reading and writing reflections that will be archived later. Visitors are welcome to join in. The Rereading Room underscores the importance of feminist texts and the once-pervasive network of independent women’s bookstores across Canada, both for the wider community and for artists. The Vancouver bookstore was the first, and like the others, created a space for women to gather, engage in dialogue and offer mutual support. More ►
– Janet Nicol

Preview of Alex McLeod's "Phantasmagoria," 2018, at UrbanScreen. Photo by Brian Giebelhaus.

NEWS ROUNDUP

Alex McLeod’s Phantasmagoria and Other News

Alex McLeod is screening his digital animation, Phantasmagoria, at the Surrey Art Gallery’s offsite venue, UrbanScreen, until April 29. McLeod’s site-specific work uses the architecture of the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre as a playground, letting dazzling shapes and patterns float, bounce, spin and spill across the building. McLeod is a Toronto-based new media artist whose work recalls the vistas of romantic landscape painting and otherworldly dystopias, which can be understood as cautionary tales about ecological responsibility. UrbanScreen calls itself Canada’s largest non-commercial outdoor urban venue for digital and interactive art. The work can be viewed from the region’s SkyTrain, between the Gateway and Surrey Central stations. Screenings begin 30 minutes after sunset and end at midnight.

In other news:

  • London’s Black Dog Publishing has filed for bankruptcy, raising questions about the future of several books about Canadians artists and shows, according to a report from the Britain’s Artists Information Company.
  • The prestigious Sobey Art Award for artists aged 40 and under just got a little richer. The top award will double to $100,000 and the four shortlisted artists will each receive $25,000.
  • The Audain Art Museum in Whistler, B.C., designed by Vancouver’s Patkau Architects, has won an award from the American Institute of Architects.
  • Some 600 works by influential American photographer Paul Strand have been donated to the Canadian Photography Institute at the National Gallery of Canada.
  • A show about the artistic dialogue between American painter Joan Mitchell and Quebec artist Jean Paul Riopelle during their 24-year romantic relationship runs at the Art Gallery of Ontario from Feb. 18 to May 6.
  • Adrienne Fast is the new curator of art and visual culture at The Reach in Abbotsford, B.C.
  • Vancouver filmmaker Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers has received the 2018 Sundance Institute’s Merata Mita Fellowship. Named for the late Maori filmmaker, it offers funding and mentorship to an Indigenous artist.
  • Programming that bridges visual art and various body-based practices is being presented until May at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in partnership with Regina’s New Dance Horizons.

 

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