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 Back  Vignettes | British Columbia | September – October 2014

By Robin Laurence

FROM GEISHA TO DIVA Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, Jun 27-Oct 19 Through the display of her magnificent kimonos and intriguing personal effects, this exhibition tells the story of Ichimaru, one of the most famous geishas of the 20th century. Born into a poor family in 1906 and starting out as a lowly oshaku waitress, the talented Ichimaru quickly became a high-ranking geisha in first-class teahouses and restaurants in Tokyo. Eventually, her “nightingale-like” singing voice ushered her into a career in radio, recording, film and television, bringing her immense national success and esteem.

STREETS Hot Art Wet City Gallery, Vancouver, Sep 4-26 This lively exhibition brings street art into the gallery, but not, the organizers say, in the form of graffiti. The featured artists – iHeart, Joy, Slingshot, Wrk(less) and MW Bowen – post their work in public spaces using wheatpaste and stencils. Styles and subjects range from Banksy-like graphics of a child walking a tightrope, to a cartoon-influenced depiction of a shark emerging from a manhole cover, to life-like dolls rendered in classical animation style.

JEAN-PIERRE AUBÉ: 31 SOLEILS (DAWN CHORUS) Or Gallery, Vancouver, Sep 5-Oct 11 For this work, award-winning, Montreal-based artist and programmer Jean-Pierre Aubé developed an electronic system for tracking the sun’s radio waves and compiling their effects on a variety of broadcast systems. He also used a special solar telescope to film the sun’s transit only in the red light spectrum. The result is an immersive video and sound installation that lets us experience natural phenomena ordinarily beyond our human capacity to see and hear – and think about our place in the world, the solar system and the universe.

ERIC LOUIE: SINGLED OUT Elissa Cristall Gallery, Vancouver, Sep 13-Oct 11 Eric Louie’s elegant and glowing abstractions, constructed of overlapping and intersecting planes and wedges of colour and light, surprisingly allude to landscape, still life and portraiture genres. The Vancouver artist paints in a way that “acknowledges and denies spatial illusion simultaneously.” Although appearing to be carefully composed of flattened organic and geometric forms, his paintings are not pre-planned, but rather evolve spontaneously through many thin layers of colour and glaze.

IN DIALOGUE WITH CARR: LANDON MACKENZIE Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Sep 20-Mar 8 This inspired pairing brings together British Columbia’s most iconic historic artist with one of its most adventuresome contemporary painters. Landon Mackenzie’s large canvasses, which explore the ways we “map” our world and situate ourselves within knowledge systems, participate in a dialogue with Emily Carr’s paintings of the West Coast rainforest. A powerful sense of place, the social construction of landscape, gender politics, cultural histories: all contribute colourful threads and thematic correlations to this rich visual exchange.

ZEV TIEFENBACH: THE MEMORY BOX Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops, Sep 20-Nov 1 Although well known for his film-based photography, especially his dramatic Canadian landscape images, here Zev Tiefenbach has created looping videos from moving images recorded on his iPhone. With a range of vignettes (including a family wedding, a nighttime gas station, and a drive through a summer rainstorm) fragmented and reassembled, Tiefenbach comments on the saturation of self-generated images through social media.

WERO: PACIFIC CHALLENGE Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver, Sep 20-Oct 11 This exhibition of wood and jade sculpture celebrates the 15th anniversary of the gallery’s representation of contemporary Maori art. The three leading Maori artists shown here share themes, subjects and cultural traditions, but employ distinctive styles. Rex Homan is known for his “fluid minimalist sculptural forms” in wood and bronze. Lewis Tamihana Gardiner is a leading pounamu jade artist in New Zealand. Todd Couper is acclaimed for his precision carving in wood, influenced by his early apprenticeship with Roi Toia and time spent in Australia.

JUDE GRIEBEL AND DANA HOLST: BETWIXT AND BETWEEN Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford, Sep 25-Jan 4 This two-person show investigates “the fragile relationship between humankind and the natural world.” Painted sculptures by Montreal-based Jude Griebel combine human faces and figures with floral and faunal forms. A drawing installation by Edmonton-based Dana Holst juxtaposes images of frilly femininity with scenes of “wayward girls” hunting wild animals, using fairy-tale fantasy to explore the interface between nature, culture and identity.

ALEX COUWENBERG: CALIFORNIA Jennifer Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver, Oct 16-Nov 16 The hard-edge abstractions of this distinguished Los Angeles artist incorporate a range of influences, from mid-century architecture and design to hot rods and car culture, surfing and skateboarding, the built environment of Southern California and the DIY philosophy of punk rock. Alex Couwenberg’s complex and highly layered paintings also reflect his Dutch-Indonesian background in their appreciation of craft and the techniques of the Dutch masters.

REINHARD SKORACKI: GROWING WISDOM Kurbatoff Gallery, Vancouver, Oct 23-Nov 6 Calgary-based artist Reinhard Skoracki folds both humanity and social commentary into his “pocket-sized” bronze sculptures. Working figuratively, he often employs humour and satire in his exploration of the human condition. “We have no choice but to constantly witness time’s passage within us and around us,” Skoracki says. His own life has seen considerable change. Born in Germany during the Second World War, he spent 40 years in the advertising and business world before taking up art-making full-time.

Portrait of Ichimaru
Portrait of Ichimaru

Collaboration of iHeart, Wrk(less), Joy,
Slingshot and MW Bowen
Collaboration of iHeart, Wrk(less), Joy,
Slingshot and MW Bowen

Jean-Pierre Aubé
Jean-Pierre Aubé

Eric Louie
Eric Louie

Landon Mackenzie
Landon Mackenzie

Zev Tiefenbach
Zev Tiefenbach

Lewis Tamihana Gardiner
Lewis Tamihana Gardiner

Jude Griebel
Jude Griebel

Alex Couwenberg
Alex Couwenberg

Renhard Skoracki
Reinhard Skoracki

 Sun, Sep 7, 2014