Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, November 23, 2016

Vancouver

Sonny Assu Uses Graffiti to Reassert Native Culture.  While Sonny Assu doesn’t wield a can of spray paint, the 41-year-old member of the Kwakwaka’wakw peoples of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, has adopted a graffiti writer’s approach to his art. In his ongoing series “Interventions on the Imaginary,” opening at the Vancouver Art Gallery December 3, (We Come to Witness: Sonny Assu in Dialogue with Emily Carr) he layers the sinuous shapes and ovoid motifs common in the art of his culture over paintings by 19th- and 20th-century artists whose depictions of indigenous North Americans could be seen as clichéd or romanticized.  The Smithsonian, November 22, 2016

Calgary

Five facts about GIRAF’s featured artist Amy Lockhart. GIRAF’s featured artist is a world-renowned experimental animator with a mischievous sense of humour (and a crucial Calgary connection). Calgary Herald, November 21, 2016

Edmonton

Arès-Pilon and Rechner create a quasi-psychedelic exhibit in INCANDESCENCE.  While art is always improvised at some point in its process, Patrick Arès-Pilon and Tim Rechner are practically waving automatism as personal flags.  Their sprawling show at Galerie Cité defies easy explanation. On the wall are dozens of Arès-Pilon’s photograms: objects placed on photo paper and immortalized in white silhouette. Woven through these prints, clusters of hyperkinetic paintings by Rechner, graffiti-like in his impressionistic alien language.  Edmonton Journal, November 22, 2016

Winnipeg

The Man Who Froze Time at the Winnipeg Art Gallery Something remarkable happened in the 1930’s: American engineer, photographer, filmmaker and underwater explorer, Harold Edgerton froze time. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology electrical engineer graduate earned his Ph.D. studying stroboscopic light on electrical machinery to visually slow down fast and intricate movement.,The Man Who Made Time Stand Still: The Photographs of Harold Edgerton on at the Winnipeg Art Gallery to April 9, 2017.   Vancouver Courier, November 22, 2016

Toronto

Ydessa Hendeles: Dystopia, Trump and Twitter. The recent exhibition “The Keeper” at New York’s New Museum engaged the act of collecting and preserving objects along with the ideas they embody; included was the massive 2002 installation Partners (The Teddy Bear Project) by Canadian curator, collector and artist Ydessa Hendeles. Though Hendeles’s noted Toronto project space shut its doors in 2012, “Death to Pigs”—on at Barbara Edwards Contemporary in Toronto until December 10—provides a more intimate take on historical themes and their resurgence.  Canadian Art, November 22, 2016

J.E.H. MacDonald’s 1912 sketch Tracks and Traffic fetches $230K.  A 1912 oil sketch by Group of Seven member J.E.H. MacDonald sold for $230,000 at auction on Tuesday night, including a 15 per cent buyer’s premium.  Tracks and Traffic was among several notable works up for sale at Consignor Canadian Fine Art’s fall auction.  CBC News, November 23, 2016

#WelcomeToBlackhurst: Curating a Black History of Toronto“Welcome to Blackhurst” is an exhibition that showcases mixed-media works, including pamphlets from black-owned businesses from Bathurst and Bloor and nearby intersections, books by writers from the African and Caribbean diaspora, artwork by Naomi Moyer, photographs by John Blak, older issues of Ebony magazine, portraits of staff from local food businesses like Caribbean Roti Place, and framed magazine covers of icons like Beverly Mascoll—each item records the black history of Toronto.  Canadian Art, November 21, 2016

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: Art Can Be Activism.  Anyone who thinks that art can’t change the world—or that activist art can’t win widespread recognition—should really have a chat with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.  In February, the Pakistani-Canadian filmmaker’s short documentary A Girl in the River, about so-called honour killings, had a special screening at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat in Islamabad. Canadian Art, November 21, 2016

New York

Francis Picabia, Trouble Maker. The more serious you are about modern art, the more likely you are to be stupefied by “Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction,” a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art.  The New Yorker, November 26, 2016 issue

Richard Prince Slapped With Yet Another Copyright Lawsuit.  Contemporary art star and appropriation artist Richard Prince has been hit with the latest in a string of copyright infringement lawsuits, this one brought by professional photographer Eric McNatt over Prince’s use of an image he took of former Sonic Youth leader Kim Gordon.  Artnet News, November 18, 2016

London

Helen Marten: from a Macclesfield garage to artist of the year Helen Marten is having quite a year and, indeed, quite a career. Her first solo show in Britain was in 2012, at the Chisenhale in London, the seeding ground of bright young artists. Her work has twice been shown at the Venice Biennale, an exhibition of hers has just closed at the Serpentine in London, and last week she won the inaugural Hepworth prize for sculpture. The Guardian, November 22, 2016

Space for the future: Inside the Design Museum’s new London digs. In 1989, when my grandmother left her split-level house in North Toronto she also left everything in it.  Her sinuous sofa, commissioned in 1955 (and kept in mint condition under plastic covers) went to the scrap heap; there was no market for it, no sign that years on it might have fetched thousands, as midcentury seating does today.  That same year, in a Thames-side banana warehouse, Terence Conran opened the Design Museum to tell the history of contemporary design to a populace still stuck on William Morris. The notion that something mass-produced could have cultural value – regardless of the concept, skill or principle behind it – was anathema. Globe & Mail, November 21, 2016

David Hockney to design stained-glass window for the Queen in Westminster Abbey. The British artist David Hockney is swapping canvas for glass with a new commission from Westminster Abbey. Hockney will design a stained-glass window honouring the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest ruling monarch in British history. The window in the north transept, which is 1.8 metres wide and six metres high, will be known as The Queen’s Window.The Art Newspaper, November 22, 2016

New Independent Art Galleries in London.  London’s major public art galleries, the Tate Modern, Royal Academy and National Gallery, are well known, very popular and free to visit. Less visited by the general public, the plethora of commercial galleries across the city also have much to offer.  Forbes, November 22, 2016

Oslo

Norwegian minister steps in after Bjarne Melgaard’s works detained by customs as ‘not art’  The Norwegian finance minister Siv Jensen has stepped in to resolve a row between the artist Bjarne Melgaard and customs officials who had detained 16 of his paintings because they were not considered works of art, so were subject to VAT. The total amount being sought was NKr 1.3m (£123,000).  The  Art Newspaper, November 17, 2016

Helsinki

Guggenheim museum in Helsinki gets preliminary approval.  The Helsinki City board has narrowly recommended that the council approve a proposal to build a Guggenheim art museum in the Finnish capital.  In a reversal of a 2012 vote that seemed to have buried the project, the 15-member board voted 8-7 on Monday to approve the 130-million euro ($180-million) plan. A final decision is expected next week by the 85-member city council.  Washington Post, November 21, 2016

Madrid

The Factory of Fakes.  Factum Art began operations in 1998, when it was becoming clear that 3-D printing was a revolutionary tool. The workshop has made millions of dollars by fabricating sculptures for artists—Anish Kapoor, Maya Lin, Marc Quinn—who sometimes require technological assistance to realize their visions. Adam Lowe appears to spend nearly all his profits on fanciful-seeming projects that, in aggregate, mount a serious case that the facsimile can play a central role in art conservation.  The New Yorker, November 28 (issue), 2016

International

The Power of Protest Art, from Goya to Polke. The election of the offensive and dangerous demagogue Donald Trump imbues Soulèvements (“Uprisings”) at the Jeu de Paume with topically charged significance. The curator — philosopher, and art historian Georges Didi-Huberman — asks us to consider what makes people rise up through a selection of rambunctious images that depict revolt.  Hyperallergic, November 23, 2016

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