Rick Leong, Nature Morte, 2014, oil. Purchased with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Grants program and the George and Lola Kidd BC Art Acquisitions Fund. AGGV 2015.011.001.


Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC - To Oct 29

by Michael Turner

Every generation has its own cosmological relationship to the mushroom. As our technologies develop, they contribute to the mushroom’s teachings, both as a medicine and, in the case ofits mycelial networks, as a mirroring of the internet that helps to transmit those teachings. One of the bigger indie films in recent years was Fantastic Fungi (2019), a visually stunning documentary that carries with it pronouncements about the mushroom’s potential to “heal the planet, build the future.” The exhibition Symbiosis projects a similar level of enthusiasm.

Drawing on the work of 17 artists and writers from BC, across North America and beyond, AGGV co-curators Jaimie Isaac and Mel Granley bring to light “the intricate networks that exist between forest and fungi” through a variety of media, from sculpture to video.

Notable works include Nanotopia interdisciplinary artists Tosca Terán and Andrei Gravelle’s installation soundscapes involving fungi-derived biodata streams. Also notable is Rick Leong’s Nature Morte (2014), a 48- by 60-inch oil on canvas done in the traditional Chinese style. Most remarkable is Leong’s situation of fungal activity somewhere between landscape and history painting, an achievement reminiscent of the genre conflations of artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. For those interested in ceramics, there is a sampling of finely glazed toadstools by pioneering Nova Scotia potters Ernst and Alma Lorenzen.

Also featured in Symbiosis are Mason Mashon, Diane Borsato (author of Mushrooming, 2023), Xiaojing Yan, Bradley Necyk, Kaja Kiuru, Colton Hash, Helen Chen (author of Fruiting Bodies, 2020), Kathryn Wadel, Rande Cook, Deb Silver, Sara Hurley, Sarah Jim and Connie Paul.

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