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 Back  Vignettes | British Columbia | April – May 2015

By Robin Laurence

MARIMEKKO, WITH LOVE Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, Feb 7-May 3 In 1951, Finnish designer Armi Ratia and her husband Viljo Ratia founded Marimekko, a garment company whose bright, bold fabrics and radically simple styles revolutionized fashion and textile production around the world. Marimekko designers, especially Vuokko Nurmesniemi and Maija Isola, caught the mood of a generation reborn following the devastation of the Second World War. Through landmark Marimekko fabrics and fashions, this exhibition explores the international impact of this breakthrough brand.

THE BOX OF TREASURES: GIFTS FROM THE SUPERNATURAL Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Art, Vancouver, Mar 4-Sep 27 Old and contemporary masks and regalia, plus a video of a recent Kwakwaka’wakw gathering in Alert Bay, provide insights into the importance of the potlatch among Northwest Coast First Nations people. Along with working masks, intended to be worn ceremonially, are several big, beautifully finished fine-art masks by acclaimed Kwakwaka’wakw carver Beau Dick. His astounding depictions of supernatural beings convey the enduring power of his culture and beliefs.

COLIN SMITH: INSIDE OUT Winsor Gallery, Vancouver, Apr 1-May 2 The Alberta-based photographer Colin Smith uses the camera obscura to transform a range of interiors – from hotel rooms to abandoned fire lookouts to Airstream trailers – with projections from the surrounding environment. Upside-down mountains, marinas and condo towers become entangled with furniture, maps, mugs and bathroom tiles, creating metaphors of both memory and nostalgia. Formerly a documentary photographer, Smith has embraced an immensely slow photographic process, in defiance of the instantaneity of the digital.

ATTACHMENTS Circle Craft Gallery, Vancouver, Apr 2-May 4 Leading jewellery artists from across Canada were invited to create new work for this exhibition of sculptural brooches, curated by Barbara Cohen. The results are wearable miniature sculptures in imaginative styles, techniques and materials. Themes and strategies include space and refuge, recycling and the natural world and the incorporation of found objects. “The brooches become dramatic extensions of the body,” Cohen says, “and offer both the artist and the wearer an opportunity for self-expression.”

HENRI ROBIDEAU: ERASER STREET grunt gallery, Vancouver, Apr 9-May 16 One of the most distinctive voices in contemporary Canadian photography, Henri Robideau established his reputation using panoramic image collages narrated with quirkily handwritten text. This show features his newest and oldest photographs of Vancouver – moments, milestones and monuments across four decades of urban development. Whether through hand-processed silver gelatin prints or digitized inkjet prints, Robideau brings both humour and seriousness to this reflection on the shifting nature of his chosen city.

GREG GIRARD: RICHMOND/KOWLOON Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond, Apr 18-Jun 28 Acclaimed Vancouver photographer Greg Girard spent nearly 30 years living and working in Asia, notably recording the social and physical transformations of the growing cities where he was based. This exhibition pairs his powerful photos of Kowloon, the densely populated city-within-a-city in Hong Kong (demolished in 1993), with his recent study of homes, shops and businesses in the burgeoning municipality of Richmond, where rapid urban development has been fuelled by immigration.

MALCOLM LEVY: JÜDISCHES KRANKENHAUS BERLIN Wil Aballe Art Projects/WAAP, Vancouver, Apr 23-May 23 Employing digital video, audio recording and still photography along with historic footage, new-media artist Malcolm Levy reflects on the history of the Jewish Hospital in the Wedding area of Berlin. Astoundingly, the building survived the Second World War and the Holocaust. Levy juxtaposes images he shot on the site in 2012 with archival recordings of Hilde Kahan, the hospital’s secretary during the war. Abstraction serves to reframe the ways we understand time and place.

JULIA DAULT: BLAME IT ON THE RAIN Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, May 1-Jun 28 This major solo show by rising star Julia Dault introduces Vancouver audiences to her paradoxical art practice – part conceptual constraint, part spontaneous gesture. Born in Toronto and based in New York, Dault employs unlikely tools such as squeegees, rubber combs and sea sponges in making her paintings, and wrestles industrial sheets of Formica and Plexiglas into shapely sculptures. Although her process-oriented work has performance elements, she works alone, choosing to maintain an element of mystery.

FLORENCE ROBERGE: CHANTICLEER Studio 13 Fine Art, Vancouver, May 14-18 When Geoffrey Chaucer told the story of Chanticleer and the Fox (“The Nun’s Priest’s Tale”) in The Canterbury Tales, he probably did not imagine that seven centuries later, on the other side of the world, a visual artist would respond by producing extravagantly oversized paintings of roosters. Yet Salt Spring Islander Florence Roberge has taken Chaucer’s fabled bird – and the sight of beautiful feral roosters on the island of Kauai – as inspiration for her big, bold images.

PORT MANN: JANE EVERETT The Reach Gallery, Abbotsford, May 21-Aug 2 At a time when debates rage over traffic congestion, public transit costs and bridge tolls in the Lower Mainland, The Reach Gallery presents Jane Everett’s Port Mann series of large-scale paintings. They document the construction of the new cable-stayed Port Mann Bridge across the Fraser River, contrasting its forms with those of the old steelarch structure still in use during that period. Everett’s style tempers representation with abstraction, revealing unexpected beauty in this massive engineering project.

Marimekko
Marimekko

Beau Dick
Beau Dick

Colin Smith
Colin Smith

Anne-Sophie Vallée
Anne-Sophie Vallée

Henri Robideau
Henri Robideau

Greg Girard
Greg Girard

Malcolm Levy
Malcolm Levy

Julia Dault
Julia Dault

Florence Roberge
Florence Roberge

Jane Everett
Jane Everett

 Tue, Apr 7, 2015