Category Archives: Exhibitions

Robert Earnest – Last Night

In between running errands on Saturday I managed to slip into the Pendulum Gallery to view Robert Earnest’s exhibition (part of the Capture Photography Festival). This body of work which consists of Earnest’s personal work was the most enjoyable that I have viewed throughout the festival. Robert Earnest is a commercial photographer who trained in California, but is now based in Vancouver, Canada. Four years ago he was involved in a car accident and this episode put his commercial career on hold for a while. Part of his recovery therapy involved taking long walks and he did this in the early hours of the morning, mostly in the early dawn hours.

Photo by Robert Earnest

The photos were all printed on glossy paper and displayed behind glass under quite bright lights which unfortunately created quite a bit of reflection in most of the images, which also showed up in the photos that I took, so I can’t share some of the ones that I would like to draw attention to.

Mysterious and suffused with theatricality, these photos reflect an in-between time, neither day nor night, in which structures, objects and light take on anthropomorphic qualities in the absence of human activity.

Pendulum Gallery Media Release

In his artist’s statement Earnest states that “the colours of the night are more pronounced and quite different than colours and light quality during daylight”. Decisions have to be made on whether to colour balance to fluorescent lighting or to sodium-vapour street lighting. There is no right answer at night he says – only different. One can see this where he photographs mundane subjects like a pedestrian crossing in a semi-rural area. The crossing is placed at the centre of the frame with the viewer looking across the road, as if to cross it.  A copse of trees are on the far side of the road illuminated by one street light. There is an unearthly, mysterious feel as the light penetrates only slightly into the thicket of trees, leaving one to wonder what lurks beyond. A grassy median bisects the road and crossing, offering temporary respite and a final opportunity to retrace one’s steps.

Mundane objects like wooden steps in a grassy embankment take on a new life at night and his use of diagonal, horizontal and vertical lines and colour contrasts create a very dynamic composition.

Photo by Robert Earnest

I particularly liked his play with white balance. There are a few photographs of misty mornings where Earnest has used a sodium vapour white balance or a cloudy balance and this had warmed up the mist and created a rather ethereal and eerie atmosphere. I do have to say that it was also quite enjoyable to view images of places and landmarks that are familiar to me. Knowing what they look in daylight, makes me appreciate this body of work even more.

There is an underlying calmness to this body of work that speaks of a healing process too. The images vary from murky to vibrant possibly reflecting this process.

My photos of Earnest’s work obviously do not do it justice, but his work can be seen on his website at: http://robertearnest.com/sliders-list/last-night-slider/ .

Reference List

Pendulum Gallery (2017). Robert Earnest | Last Night [online] Pendulum Gallery. Available at: http://www.pendulumgallery.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Earnest-2017_Media-Release_Pendulum-Gallery.pdf [Accessed 30 April, 2017]

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Wide Open – Group Exhibition

This exhibition has been the one that I have liked the least in this year’s Capture Photography Festival so far. The exhibition was in the Goldmoss Satellite which actually turned out to be in the Callister Brewery.

Callister Brewing (Goldmoss Satellite Gallery)

We entered the location and were confronted with a very mouldy, musty smell (which I later realised must have been from the fermenting hops in the back) and loads of people sitting around tables in the small space inside the warehouse, drinking beer. It seemed that this was an actual micro-brewery cum pub. The photos were hung on the walls and one could not really get up close to them to view them properly as the patrons and the tables were in the way. So as a result I only managed to get a look across the room at the ones that really interested me, but not close enough to note the photographer’s name.

This was a group exhibition by a number of artists and all had to create work that reflected the exhibition title “Wide Open”.  The photographers featured were: Jonathan Dy, Lital Marom (this was one of the artists whose work I really was interested in seeing and looking on her website now, I feel the exhibition would have been much stronger if more of her work was displayed), Nicolas Teichrob, Mira Hunter, Derek Junck Hunter, Bon Roberts. The first group of photos looked like they were a fashion shoot from Star Wars – lots of shiny black metallic uniforms with a male model posed in front, which I found quite repetitive and quite uninformative.

Mosaic and Nucleus by Bon Roberts

I was rather taken with these two abstracts by Bon Roberts. Roberts is know to feature heritage birds (hens) which she raises on her acreage in Roberts Creek in most of her work. I particularly liked the kaleidoscope effect of Mosaic which reminded me rather whimsically of the toy I used to play with when very young. I found Nucleus rather intriguing in that an egg is obviously a symbol of the beginning of life and in this photo one feels as if one is glimpsing beyond the shell into the little being that is being formed from within.

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Falling through Time – Barbara Cole

Barbara Cole’s exhibition at the Bau-Xi Gallery is a beautiful, ethereal body of work. The body of work consists of photographs that she took of English gardens approximately twenty years, over which she layers ethereal photos of women taken underwater. The effect is very romantic in tone and very feminine in nature.  I was reminded of fairy tales and magical forests when viewing her work. Nowadays most of her images are taken underwater and she places a lot of emphasis on the use and/or appearance of mirrors in her work.

Some of her work is made using a lenticular lens and this has the effect of building a story in a single image. To create a lenticular image one has to create multiple images which are then combined into one image in a process called interlacing, lined up and then this print is then aligned on a special lenticular grid so that the lens which goes over top has the correct amount of focus. When the viewer walks past the image the image changes. Miggs Burroughs has a good explanatory video on this process.

Below is a short video of Cole making this body of work.

Reference List

Anckner, Tom (2015) Miggs Burroughs – Lenticular Imagery [user-generated content online] Creat. Mystic Vision Productions. 23 April, 2015. 10 mins 27 secs. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvdZhYOvDsw (Accessed 16 April, 2017)

Cole, Barbara (2016) The making of FALLING THROUGH TIME [user-generated content online] Creat. Bob Barrett, Maverick Media. 5 May, 2016. 4 mins 2 secs. Available at: https://vimeo.com/166368824 (Accessed 16 April, 2017)

Carrefour de la DiverCité (Crossroads of DiverCity)

This exhibition was on display at the Le Centre culturel francophone de Vancouver as part of the Capture Photography Festival this month.

The exhibition was hung on the library walls and comprised the work of two artists who were illustrating the changes of Vancouver streets and the horrific changes in the streets of Syria. Denis Bouvier’s body of work was entitled Vancouver Street Photography (2010-2017) Une Ville en Métamorphose. The work was chosen from Bouvier’s published photos in The Source newspaper and are documentary in nature. The events documented are various cultural ceremonies, local activism, festivals and other events taking place in public spaces. The captions of the photos were derived from the newspaper’s Street Photography column and were written by Don Richardson. I was not aware of this newspaper and have just spent some time online perusing the Street Photography section. It is a very interesting section, each photograph is back with a solid piece of historical data and other interesting facts and stories.

Denis Bouvier – Vancouver Street Photography (2010-2017)

But it was Pierre Grenier’s The Forgotten Children of Syria/Les Enfants Oubliés that really grabbed my attention which was displayed after Bouvier’s images. Grenier spent three week as a tourist in Syria in 2009 before the civil war, taking photos with a cheap digital camera of historical buildings, children, cities and markets.  When the conflict broke out he realised that his photographs represented a rather unique view of Syria. In the exhibition he shows eleven of his own photos of pre-war Syrian children and juxtaposes them with nine press collages of children caught up in the war.

I chose or “freed” nine press photos from the web but not for their terrifying or horrifying content. Side by side with my own pictures I believe that together they have the potential to convey a sense of shared humanity beyond their subject matter.

Pierre Grenier

Credits: Top left: Karam Almasri – France-Presse Images Getty. Top right: ABC/Reuters. Bottom left: Bassam Khabieh – Reuters. The rest by Pierre Grenier

The picture panels are brimming with ambiguity and intensity. At first one concentrates on the children playing in the plaza – carefree and happy as children should be. Then as the eye roves over the other photos one is aware that something is definitely off. Images of children fleeing from fire and carnage or standing tall amidst bombed out buildings are collaged over rubble walls. The shock and awe sets in.

Credits: Left side, Mohammed Badra, Reuters/Right side, P. Grenier

Grenier created a few larger pieces like the one above which are a “then and now” collaged juxtaposition which is rather surreal in that the two sections look as if they really could “fit” together. He illustrates the journey from peace to war and beauty to destruction. I found it an extremely moving body of work, haunting and poetic.

It might have been an injustice to hang these two photographers’ work together on the same wall. Even though both are documenting changes in a city, the cities are vastly different. The natural flow of the exhibition starts with Bouvier’s work (which was quite spread out) and then progresses towards the end of the wall where one has to negotiate the book stacks to where Grenier’s work hangs (the wall space allocated to Grenier’s work was small in comparison). By the time one has viewed Grenier’s work, and as a result of the intensity of it, Bouvier’s photos simply fade away in memory.

External. Internal. Bill Anderson

The third of six exhibitions of the Capture Photography Festival I viewed on Saturday was Bill Anderson’s exhibition, External. Internal. which was on at the Winsor Gallery. Anderson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland but now lives in Vancouver, BC.  The Winsor Gallery is quite small, but has lovely high ceilings and has quite an airy feel to it, which make this a great space for Anderson’s large images. Anderson’s work has been featured in various exhibitions in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

His work is a series of photo-based mixed media constructions, some featuring marks made on city exteriors – mainly the white salty residue that forms on windows as a result of rain or sea spray and the views one experiences from the interior into the exterior.

Studio, External. Internal, 2017 by Bill Anderson
Photograph Mounted on Plexi and Wooden Panel
72 X 39 in

The Studio image above features a triptych of a cityscape, most probably the Vancouver skyline behind a salt encrusted plexiglass. Up close one comes face to face with the salty residue and can barely make out the grey outline of the city, but standing back one gradually finds the city moving into focus. It feels so much like looking out of a high-rise apartment window on a grey, rainy day and there is a pervading sense of gloom attached to this image. The only colour in the image being the complementary colour strips at the top and bottom of the image which serve to anchor and emphasis the “window” that the viewer is looking through.

Happiness is a Warm Spoon, 2017 by Bill Anderson
Photograph Mounted on Plexi and Wooden Panel
66 X 48 in

Some of the other work on display took the form of hoardings covered in posters, in various stages of deterioration. I was particularly drawn to his Happiness is a Warm Spoon image. On first glance one sees some posters of Campbell’s condensed soup, a nodding homage to Warhol. But these images of canned soup are only a play on Campbell’s products. Instead they are stamped with locations and actions that apply specifically to the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, which is the area where drug addicts hang out. Some of the tins read “Carnegie’s Condensed Volunteer Soup”. Carnegie being an old (by Vancouver standards) historical library that is located on the corner of East Hastings and Main Street, which is now a community centre and hangout for drug addicts. The area around this location features many volunteer organizations, e.g. soup kitchens, safe injection sites, half-way homes and so on, hence the “volunteer” in the title. Another tin cites remnants of “Downtown Eastside” in its title. The spoon in the middle of the image references the many soup kitchens in the area. These torn images of cans on the hoardings are representative of the people society has forgotten about or ignores. The cans as broken or torn apart as their lives are. An extremely poignant image indeed!

About his work he writes:

Each image in the series, Continuum, consists of an accumulation of images made from different vantage points and times of day, the piling up of the near and far, and overlapping presents – the many here and nows. Forms, and their colours, light and shade, mingle to create new and unique forms that, no matter how strange, always seem pertinent.

Since the final image is made in situ, and not constructed afterwards, the approach depends a great deal on intuition and spontaneity. One misstep along the way and there is no going back. I believe this allows for a more intimate and revealing dance with the subject, whether it’s as common as a plastic bag or as dynamic as a religious pilgrimage. However, my main concern does not lie with the act of recording a place, or even with interpreting it, it has more to do with using its resources to create another place, and that that place should reside in the two dimensions of the art – the art itself as place.

Winsor Gallery

Reference List

Winsor Gallery (n.d.) Bill Andersonhttp://www.winsorgallery.com/artist.asp?aid=163&id=7799&offset=0&detail=b [online] Winsor Gallery. Available at: [Accessed 3 April, 2017]

Danny Singer with Mike Bayne – Artifact

Approaching similar subjects in different ways, this exhibition of Danny Singer’s large panoramas and Mike Bayne’s 4 inch x 6 inch paintings at Gallery Jones, was definitely the highlight out of the six exhibitions I viewed yesterday.

Danny Singer’s work is extremely well planned composing of photo-composites of main street in small towns on the Canadian prairies. The photographs are made in a similar fashion to Ed Ruscha’s On the Sunset Strip. Each structure in the photograph is photographed individually so that a straight on perspective is maintained throughout the whole image and side streets appear parallel to one another with numerous vanishing points throughout the images. Each photograph is made up of approximately 150 images. The street and buildings lie below the first rule of thirds while the magnificent big sky, sometimes with storm clouds, sometimes without dwarf the tiny buildings and man-made structures below, reminding the viewer just how insignificant man can be. It is all rather overwhelming.

Kerrobert Winter Sky, 43.5″ x 73″ by Danny Singer

Normally one would stand back to be able to take in the details of such a large print, but because the horizon line is so low in the images, the viewer is drawn in closer to the image to scrutinize in detail the tiny structures of each main street and to observe the amazing detail captured by the photographer. The colours are vibrant and pop. The banal looking buildings become engaging and humour becomes evident in the names of some of the motels, e.g. the Hotel California, in such an unlikely place. Singer’s large-scale photos elevate the small towns to places worth remembering. They certainly have intrigued me to the extent that I want to embark on a road trip and find some of these places.

Ceylon Summer Sky, 40″ x 78.5″ by Danny Singer

In total contrast to Singer’s work, Mike Bayne’s work is extremely small. I actually thought they were photographs but the curator informed me that they were paintings, which really makes them all the more incredible taking in the amount of fine detail that is rendered in each painting. Like Singer’s large scale photos, Bayne’s little photos – I believe the largest one was 12″ x 8″, but the majority were around 6″ x 4″ in size – draw the viewer in to examine the painting in detail. I have to admit that I was at times really hard pressed to identify something in the paintings that actually looked as if it had been painted so accurate was the representation.

Painting by Mike Bayne
Painting by Mike Bayne

Mike Bayne’s subject matter is banal, ranging from backyard sheds, house frontages, shop signage, cars parked on the street – all everyday sights common to North America and which we take for granted, now elevated to gallery status albeit in a rather quirky and quaint fashion.

“Mike Bayne’s paintings are an exercise in photo-realism. His works are painted in the genre associated with the seventeenth century Dutch school of painting. His work is a study in the effects of natural versus artificial light, and an attempt to convey a sense of human absence and isolation. Mostly, though, the paintings address the banal or commonplace objects and spaces of everyday life, and demonstrate how under close examination they are transformed.”

BlogTO

Bayne works off photographs for his paintings. He enlarges his prints to 12″ x 8″ then creates a grid on mylar and overlays this on the photo. He then creates an identical grid on a piece of masonite then draws in the information in each grid onto the masonite with graphite. The he removes the grid from the photo and starts to block in the drawing on the masonite in oil paints. After this process has dried he begins the over painting and there can be any number of layers of paint in different areas of the painting in this process.

Reference List

Timothy (2005) Mike Bayne Interview [online] BlogTO. Available at: http://www.blogto.com/arts/2005/05/mike_bayne_interview/ [Accessed 2 April, 2017]

Between Dreaming and Living – Vikky Alexander

Vikky Alexander is one of Vancouver’s most acclaimed artists and is a leading practitioner in the field of phto-conceptualism. According to the Capture Photography Festival’s catalogue (p 69) she investigates “culture’s appropriation and substitution of nature as it is manifest in mass-market interior design items such as photomurals of scenic landscapes, wood veneers, and decorative mirrors. Her work recognizes the artificial as a place for utopian fantasy, a surreal space where the natural is recreated in an improved or even perfected form”.

From the images in the exhibition at Chernoff Fine Art, I couldn’t identify any mass-market interior design items, or anything vaguely connected to consumerism, but these feature on her website.

Between Dreaming and Living by Vikky Alexander

The original body of work which was exhibited in 1985 in Vancouver began as sandwiched 35mm colour slides which she then converted into black and white prints and framed each with a coloured Plexiglass overlay. In 2008 she revisited this oeuvre by making colour Cibachrome prints from the original sandwiched sides. The images consist of appropriated images from magazines and calendars and her own landscape prints.

Between Dreaming and Living by Vikky Alexander

The images appeal more to the female gaze than the male gaze, having a dreamlike, romantic feel to them. There is a love story thread and one of desire that runs through this small collection of images on display. Although all the images had a surreal feel to them, some of the images felt a little too commercial, like the one directly above. I could easily see the image of the couple in an advertisement for engagement rings or something similar.

The gallery space was quite tiny, basically two walls in the front entrance of the store. On the other side of the main display wall were samples of frames, a few other prints that were for sale, including one by Jeff Wall which I have not seen before and which I found rather unusual for a Jeff Wall print. It did not have the clarity that Wall’s work usually displays, the majority of the print being slightly out of focus (not just my quick capture on the point and shoot camera). The print is also quite small (13 1/4 x 10 inches) and is retailing for CAD $5,400. Maybe this is one of those times Wall actually had a camera with him while he was on one of his walks and he just happened to snap this scene.

Reference List

Capture Photography Festival. (2017) Between Dreaming and Living. Vancouver: Chernoff Fine Art.