Vikky Alexander: Extreme Beauty
Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC
VANCOUVER ART GALLERY, Vancouver BC - Jul 6 - Oct 27
by Michael Turner
Recent VAG exhibitions of senior photo-based artists Marian Penner Bancroft and Carol Sawyer were heralded by those who despair Vancouver as a photo-conceptual “boys’ club.” Yet while some are happy to see a gender-diversified pantheon, others see a consolidation – if not a recognition – of a distinct picture-making tradition. For Vikky Alexander, who lived in Vancouver from 1992 to 2016, her work lends itself to numerous conversations.
Now a resident of Montreal, Alexander returns to the West Coast for a 30-year retrospective comprising over 80 works of photography, sculpture and a hybrid of the two. Equally remarkable is Alexander’s path. After graduating from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in 1979, she moved to New York, where she was an early participant in what came to be known as Appropriation Art. In 1992, after accepting a teaching positon at the University of Victoria, she moved to Vancouver, where she distinguished herself through collage and digital transfer onto canvas.
Thematically, Alexander’s work runs the gamut, from architecture to fashion. Notable works include her viewer-implicated Lake in the Woods (1986), a corridor installation with a commercial lakeside photo mural on one wall and a mix of fake wood panelling and mirrors opposite. Another is her West Edmonton Mall Series (1988-1992), where the promise of non-commercial space is compromised by vertical interior surfaces that consist largely of commodity-refl ecting plastic, glass and mirror. But it is her Christie Brinkley-featured Blue Obsession (1983/2016) that has the social media set abuzz. “I was trying to show that it takes more than one image to get an accurate description of a person, of anyone,” she recently told NGC Magazine.