Chinatown I, 2014, Oil on Canvas, 30 x 52 in.
Chinatown III, 2014, Oil on Canvas, 30 x 52 in.
Toronto based artist Peter Harris is a Canadian landscape painter though not in the traditional sense. His focus shifts attention away from the Canadian landscape standard; headed by the rugged wilderness depictions from the Group of Seven and their dominance of our historical art discourse. Instead it has been his mission statement for over a decade to focus on the everyday realities of life that we actually see: highways, gas stations, parking lots, storefronts, and city streets, all illuminated with a tenebristic elegance that adds an air of drama to the otherwise banal setting.
Paintings such as Chinatown I and III are interesting examples of Harris’ ongoing examination of the relationship between environment and identity and how one can inform and shape the other. Here Harris paints a Chinese restaurant, with the focus clearly on the illuminated signage. Along with our knowledge of Peter Harris being a Canadian artist, included is just enough context to let us know that the scene is in North America. What makes this work an example of Canadian painting? Is it the artist’s nationality, is it what the picture depicts, is it where the painting was executed?
Suzy Taekyung Kim
Coloured Love #4, 2014, Acrylic, crystallina, mica on panel, 30 x 60 in.
Coloured Love #5, 2014, Acrylic, crystallina, mica on panel, 30 x 60 in.
Korean born, Vancouver educated artist Suzy Taekyung Kim continues to develop her unique visual voice amid the frenzy of the New York City art scene. Since finishing her schooling in 2006 Suzy’s career has taken off. She was appointed head of production for KaiKai KiKi, Takashi Murakami’s art production company, installing massive exhibitions across some of the worlds most prestigious museums. Now, on top having set up her new Suzy Studios, showing at Gitana Rosa, and becoming a mom, she’s been awarded a public art commission for the city of New York! Congratulations Suzy and thank you for finding the time to send us these beautiful works!
You can see more of Kim’s work here: http://www.suzystudio.com/en
Waves on Agate Beach, 2014, Watercolour on paper, 12 x 21 in.
Standing Driftwood, 2013, Watercolour on paper, 27.5 x 17.5 in.
We are honoured to be representing in Vancouver, for the first time in over a decade, the supremely talented Carol Evans. Using watercolour, a notoriously difficult medium to contain, Evans paints impeccably realized scenes depicting moments found on Canada’s southwest coast. Most painters enjoy using oil or acrylic for the freedom to make a mistake whereas Carol forces herself to rely on her expert technique and concentration. This effectively forces the medium and method of production to reflect the content of her paintings - one of intent, awareness and reflection in our misty, water-rich environment.
Her technique is clearly stunning, however what makes Carol an extraordinary artist is her intuitive ability to touch the image and make it feel more vividly alive than if you were looking at the original photograph. Her subject choices are so spot on for our region, that if you’ve ever been on a BC Ferry, her paintings will feel unnervingly familiar - taking on a heightened sense of reality through her patient brush, like a memory sweetened with time.
Sean William Randall
Possibly Years, 2014, Acrylic on Canvas, 36 x 36 in.
Canadian born, Regina based painter Sean William Randall’s dynamic oeuvre depicts a man whose brilliant colour sensibility coupled with incisive awareness has made him one of Canada’s most interesting painters working today. In 1992 Randall left his career as an architect to dedicate himself to painting; this brash confidence is evinced in his work where one minute he demonstrates a profound love for Canadian landscape painting, conjuring comparisons to the enchanting Ivan Eyre, and the next moment setting the tradition on fire by painting flaming wreckage streaking across the pastel prairie sky. His work often invokes meta-cycles concerning image inundation and the way these images function in our subconscious and mediate our experiences as citizens of the 21st century.
In this latest series, Randall plays with notions of reality and familiarity as being constructs, informed by images from our past which play on our memory. He realizes this concept by depicting a setting which perhaps feels familiar though is decidedly unplaceable. Palpable tension is created within the image as the viewer is left to wonder whether we are situated on a lit path, or floating down a gentle stream towards or away from, an unknown light source.
Randall’s painting practice acknowledges that it is dictated by the use of modern technology while concurrently striving to be its antithesis through analyzing the concepts and producing work in a slow medium like painting. His work leaves us with a question relevant to our modern existence - can we still differentiate between which memories are our own and which have been crafted for us, and is there a difference?
Joy of Spring, 2008, Oil on Canvas, 50 x 64 in.
During the last half century Robert Michener has developed an oeuvre dedicated to illustrating humanity’s interdependent relationship to the larger biosphere. Utilizing elements of Chinese landscape painting, Michener decentralizes perspective, crafting spatial illusions in an all-encompassing collocation of various landscape elements. In his Angler and Canyon series the fisherman is made to be miniscule in relation to the grandeur of the cliffs, riverbanks and overhanging flora whose importance as animate biology is underscored through the meticulous rendering of each individual leaf. This aesthetic, originating in Buddhist and Taoist philosophy, articulates mans subordinate role in the larger logic of the natural system. Michener employs these tropes as the antithesis to the personal perspective as a single source of truth, deconcentrating the importance of the human figure and their world view, painting instead as if he were one of the birds. This form of visual language reframes perspective to remind us of the delicately balanced ecosystem we are indelibly born from and must reciprocally nourish if we wish to survive within it.
Don’t miss the last weekend to see Canadian landscape icon Lawren Harris’ show at the Vancouver Art Gallery! His powerful aesthetic influence can be seen in the works of many North American artists including our own Dana Irving, Glenn Payan and Tim Fraser; as well as local contemporaries Ross Penhall and Ron Parker.
Headress, 2012, Acrylic on Panel, 24 x 30 in.
Steve Mennie, a BC artist renowned for his skill in painting photorealistically is moving forward with his work, choosing to forego the limitations of the illusory “real” and foray into the deep mysterious world of abstract painting.
Mennie has said that although he’s had a successful 30 year career as a painter, he’s not entirely sure what got him started or what he even thinks he’s doing. It is this ambiguity of what painting ultimately “is” - the calling into question of what the act of painting and the substance of paint truly means that Mennie is exploring with his new direction.
The climate of postmodernism asks of its artists, particularly painters who work in a supposedly dead medium, a justification of their practice. The purpose of the artwork is now an inherent question, to which the answer is ultimately, none. Mennie prefers to think of his works as “slabs of existence” - that is, they exist as vehicles for creating dialogue and establishing connections both meaningful and meaningless between human minds, filling the gaps of understanding for what language cannot express.
Mt. Alberta, 2014, Oil on Canvas, 63 x 88 in.
Mt. Robson (Cain Face), 2014, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 60 in.
David Pirrie’s passion for mountains has developed steadily since the age of 12 when he first started hiking under the guidance of his older brother. When his brother passed away in ‘92, the mountains became a source of remembrance for the years they spent combing the back mountains along the coast - a symbol of their bond. Since that time David has summited hundreds of peaks spanning the coastal range, including the majority of those between Grouse and Pemberton. It was impossible for Pirrie not to notice significant changes in the health of these glaciers over the years, with most of their mass having receded 50 percent and many of them vanishing entirely.
These seemingly indestructible snow-capped monoliths function as a gauge of our planet’s health, clearly indicating in which direction our world is headed. The mountains also function as a symbol of time and its relativity. They are forever changing at a glacial pace - from the perspective of these mountains our lives and existence are a mere blip. The dots are overlaid in an act of human mapping or claim-staking, representing in one sense an unnatural interference with the landscape in our attempt to define and control it, rather than live with it. With the recession of the glaciers reflecting the slow demise of our eco-system, these mountains remind us of our transient existence on this planet. In our tenuous fragile origins as living creatures we struggled to obtain dominion over the earth. Now, in an ironic twist, our survival now means our destruction. Just as our inevitable return to the earth is a fact, so it is a fact that these mountains over the eons will erode, re-arranging and sorting their particulate matter within the vast incomprehensible logic of the larger system.
David Pirrie’s new show The Mountain Survey Project runs at the Ian Tan Gallery from April 3 - 30.