Ian Wallace: Home and Away
Ian Wallace, View from Bedroom Window, 1960, watercolour on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

Ian Wallace: Home and Away

West Vancouver Art Museum, West Vancouver, BC - To May 4

by Michael Turner

Now in his early 80s, Ian Wallace may not be producing at the rate he once did, but he remains an important force in Vancouver’s cultural ecology. In addition to his innovative Mondrian-influenced photo paintings, his impressive exhibition record, his critical writings and numerous awards, Wallace was an influential teacher who has made himself available to the promotion of art as both a place of work and a place of leisure.

The title of this exhibition—Home and Away—speaks to two bodies of work: Wallace’s earliest West Vancouver landscape drawings and watercolours from the 1950s paired with more recent renditions of those same landscapes, but as photographs; and a 2014 contribution to his ongoing Hotel Series of photo paintings.

Apart from a talent for composition and colour, what stands out in Wallace’s earliest works are the places from which his views are contemplated. View from Bedroom Window (1960) is just that: a picture whose foreground unfurls down the North Shore Mountains to the village of Ambleside, across the waters to Stanley Park to the big sky beyond. It is a privileged view, if not an excellent one, captured by a teenager who grew up in what was at one time Canada’s wealthiest municipality.

In contrast to the “Home” landscapes, the works in the “Away” portion began as still lives comprised largely of artist materials—paper, coloured pencils, a photo—laid out on a hotel table in Baden-Baden, Germany. Once photographed, the picture is wedded to a stretched canvas and bordered by monochromatic bands of paint. Wallace has spoken of these monochrome as emblematic of a flâneurial dérive mindset—a condition that speaks as much to times present as those past. Home and Away appears as part of the 2024 Capture Photography Festival Selected Exhibitions Program.


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