Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, June 21, 2018


David Milne retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery makes for brilliant tribute. In February of this year, when David Milne: Modern Painting opened at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, England, it was met with many laudatory reviews in the British press. One critic, however, dismissed Milne’s work as mediocre and repetitive, causing outrage and indignation among Canadian art lovers. How could anyone­—anyone—denigrate the work of such a singular and innovative Canadian artist? Unthinkable.  Recently landed at the Vancouver Art Gallery, this multi-institutional retrospective was curated by Sarah Milroy, a long-time freelancer recently appointed chief curator of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and Ian A.C. Dejardin, executive director of the McMichael since 2017 and previously director at the Dulwich…Arriving 33 years after the last major Milne retrospective, this exhibition is a fine tribute to the artist, serving to introduce him to a new generation of Canadian viewers as well as to the wider world. As for any snooty, colonialist naysayers lurking out there, well, open your eyes and minds. Brilliance resides here. Georgia Straight, June 20, 2018

Judy Radul.  “Recently, tucked away in a corner of Vancouver’s Catriona Jeffries Gallery, an accordion screen shielded a sculpture of a brain sitting on a retro black leather stool; a set of knotted metal links snaked through the brain’s interhemispheric fissure, chaining it to the floor. Judy Radul’s signature theatricality was certainly evident—though restrained—in cheeky, stage-set cameos like this one in her latest solo exhibition, “Words No Pictures Pictures No Words.” – Justina Bohach  CanadianArt, June 20, 2018

From slavery to social housing, Kerry James Marshall: Collected Works tracks African-American history in vivid and often troubling detail.  During a recent media tour of Kerry James Marshall: Collected Works, the acclaimed American artist spoke about the idea of “embodiment” and how it is essential to his creative process. “If you make a thing,” he said, “it looks like what it claims to be about.” Every aspect of an individual work of art, whether formal or material, must reiterate or “embody” the idea behind it. Marshall paused in front of his 2002 photo triptych Heirlooms and Accessories, whose white frames he made himself and inlaid with rhinestones. “Even if you don’t know what it is,” he said, “encoded in the structure of the thing are enough elements to give you a road map to start to figure out what’s going on.”  Georgia Straight, June 13, 2018 (June 18 in print)

Saudi artist seeks to bring cultures together with installation Paradise Has Many Gates.  When the Straight reaches Ajlan Gharem by videophone, it’s nighttime in the town of Namas, south of Riyadh, right after the Eid ul-Fitr holiday. The young contemporary artist is sitting out in his family’s backyard, the crickets are chirping loudly, and he’s smoking a cigarette; the only light comes from the mercurial glow of the village in the distance.  The next stop for his provocative installation Paradise Has Many Gates is a high-profile waterfront spot in Vanier Park this week as part of the 2018–20 Vancouver Biennale of public art. He is flying here to witness its building this week and official launch Tuesday (June 26).  Georgia Straight, June 20, 2018


Renowned fine art photographer Eric Klemm showcases new work in Fort Langley.  Esteemed fine art photographer and painter Eric Klemm is showcasing new work at the Fort Gallery this summer. From June 27 to July 22, the public is invited to experience Klemm’s bold and colourful abstract paintings.  Langley Times, June 20, 2018


Victoria art gallery project receives $6M from province. Plans to improve and expand the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria took a major step forward Sunday with the announcement of $6 million in funding from the provincial government.  The $30-million initiative, known as the Next Gallery Project, is expected to begin in spring 2019 and take up to two years to complete, said gallery director Jon Tupper. There had been efforts to find a downtown location for the gallery, but the decision to stay at the current Moss Street site was made a number of years ago. Times Colonist, June 18, 2018


Famous Spanish street artist courted to paint Edmonton’s biggest mural.  If two Edmonton art lovers get their way, a homely brick facade near Whyte Avenue will become a blank canvas for renowned Spanish street artist Okuda San Miguel.  Michael Maxxis and Fish Griwkowsky have launched a $40,000 crowdfunding campaign for a six-storey mural in Old Strathcona.  CBC News, June 20, 2018


Inviting ‘very difficult conversations’: Why the AGO welcomes debate over Indigenous art. Entering into the Art Gallery of Ontario’s new exhibition Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak, “is like you are on Inuit homeland,” says artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory. The Toronto gallery’s major exhibition this season juxtaposes the work of world renowned artist Kenojuak Ashevak with that of her nephew Timootee (Tim) Pitsiulak, highlighting two generations of artists from the celebrated artistic community of Kinngait, Nunavut.  CBC News, June 19, 2018

The Manner of Their Dying.  I think of them often. I knew Felix best. Jorge I never knew well. I feared and admired AA’s bite and sophistication. But I looked up to them all and, now that the ashes of General Idea are scattered, I often find myself thinking of how Felix and Jorge died, or rather, how they lived, and made their work as death drew near. General Idea was, among so many things, an enquiry into what an artist might be... Then Felix and Jorge stepped off this mortal coil. How they left is the last image they could leave us, their last heartbreaking exploration of the frame to which they devoted their lives. Momus, June 15, 2018


The Song of the Recalcitrant Labourer.   Guelph-based artist Andrew Buszchak describes himself as “a recalcitrant labourer.”  When he left the workforce as a welder he was “stewing with bad memories.” As a result he has developed a set of working procedures that are a response to the debilitating aspects of that work experience… Evidence of that contrary labour is on exhibition at the Art Gallery of Guelph. Called “Counterproductive Work Behaviour,” the exhibition (which runs from May 10 to September 5) includes objects made from carbon steel and dimensional lumber.  Border Crossings, June 2018


Montreal’s Big-Time Warhol Collector.  Montrealer Paul Maréchal has a master’s degree in art history and a day job working as curator for Power Corporation of Canada’s corporate art collection. But he is better known to some—particularly those overseas—as one of world’s biggest collectors of Warhol’s record covers, magazine illustrations and posterworks. Canadian Art, June 18, 2018


Slash Workers : ‘That’s the dream, right?’ Transitioning into being a full-time artist.  Name a career. Any career. It’s likely Lyndsey Paynter from Charlottetown has had it, at one point or another. For the past several months she’s been working as a career transitions facilitator with the public schools branch, which, for her, is the ideal position. She is the definition of a modern slash worker: someone who works more than one job at once. ” Paynter’s eventual goal is to become a full-time artist but she knows it will take time and work to get there.   CBC News, June 20, 2018


The Great Canadian Amnesia.  Few Canadians are aware of the original Cold War’s deep impact on our national cultural policy—or of how those legacies from the 1950s are still strangling our imaginations in 2018.  In 1951, the final report of Canada’s Massey Commission (a.k.a. the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences) was released. Better known as the Massey Report, this document provided the armature of what would become a state-defined national culture in Canada and give birth to the idea of Canadian content…But the Massey Report has not allowed us to grow. It has robbed agency from artists. And the contemporary contradictions that have emerged in Canadian art and its institutions still flow through this mother of all policy documents.  What I hope to do in this essay is make some of these detrimental connections clearer. I want to make the case for replacing the Massey Report—an out-of-date document premised on elitist, Eurocentric, 19th-century notions of culture but that, in the strangest and most distressing manner, continues to define Canadian society.  CanadianArt, June 20, 2018


Anish Kapoor Sues the NRA for Featuring ‘Cloud Gate’ as the Backdrop for a Pro-Gun Ad.  Anish Kapoor is going after the National Rifle Association), filing a copyright infringement lawsuit in the US in response to a 2017 NRA ad featuring Cloud Gate, his famed public sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park. The artist filed the complaint on June 19 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Artnet News, June 20, 2018

New York

Peter Hujar’s Insides. The Morgan Library and Museum, recently showed “Speed of Life,” a travelling retrospective exhibition on the American photographer Peter Hujar…Those who strain to tell the official history of the dispossessed, such as the exhibition’s curator Joel Smith, as well as the reviewer in The New York Times, emphasize the location of it all: Hujar’s studio in the Lower East Side / East Village…  For Hujar, the interior is not a metaphor for private life. Instead, insides denote a terrible beauty, an impossibility that must be documented. CanadianArt, June 20, 2018

Cambridge, MA

The Neuroscientist in the Art Museum.  As Tedi Asher, the Salem, Massachusetts, art museum’s neuroscientist-in-residence explains, museum visitors aren’t necessarily viewing art the way they might think they are.  “Sometimes our conscious experience of things does not always reflect our physiological response to something, or our behavioral response,” says Asher.  “The fact is, the culture is changing dramatically,” says Dan Monroe, director of the museum. “When asked what people want out of cultural activities today, and this is across all age ranges, the number one priority people want is fun,” he says, in reference to findings from the 2017 Culture Track study, which listed fun as respondents’ “single greatest motivation” for attending cultural activities. “That’s not what we were all thinking about five or six or 10 years ago as the most important criterion for the success of a cultural event or activity, and what fun means is obviously an interesting question,” he allows, “but the whole definition of culture is changing, and the idea that cultural organizations are immune from the incredible changes that are occurring— at dramatically faster speed than ever before— would be incredibly dangerous and naive.”  Monroe holds that museums today are facing an inflection point, and they must question standard museum pedagogy. For instance, is it actually best to present art in a white box gallery space? The museum director says that institutions need to continually develop new approaches if they want to stay relevant.  Smithsonian Magazine, June 19,  2018

Meet Hao Liang, the Young Chinese Artist Whose Reboot of Ancient Ink Painting Has Become a Bona Fide Market Sensation.  The powerhouse gallery Gagosian is not exactly the first place you would think to look to discover new talent. But walk into its Upper East Side location today and you’ll encounter the work of an artist you have likely never heard of—though you probably will soon. The 35-year-old Beijing-based artist Hao Liang is working to do nothing less than reinvent traditional Chinese ink wash painting.  Though he is well known in China, his inaugural exhibition with Gagosian, “Portraits and Wonders,” on view until June 23, marks his first solo show in the United States. And it sold out before it even opened.  Artnet News, June 20, 2018

The Space of Not-Knowing It’s my sense that engaging with Erin Shirreff’s work involves an act of faith. Her proposition that time is the elemental dimension in the embodiment of her works, that is, in bringing them into being, is one with which we agree if we commit to her work… This interview was conducted by telephone with the artist in her Brooklyn studio on April 19, 2018, six days after the opening of her solo exhibition, “Erin Shirreff,” at Sikkema Jenkins & Co, in New York. (Erin Shirreff was born in Kelowna, studied at UVIC and Yale, and is currently based in Brooklyn).   Border Crossings, June 2018


Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing review – a visionary whose camera never lied.  Anyone who thinks art has no uses might consider the case of the great American photographer Dorothea Lange, who was driving through California in 1936 when she came upon a destitute pea-pickers camp. The crops had failed and the migrant workers were close to starvation. Lange fixed upon a woman of 32 who had trekked all the way from the Oklahoma dust bowl with 10 children and the photograph she took, of this mother staring into the empty future in all her beauty, strength and fear, became one of the most famous images in American culture.  Defiant, principled, tireless in her pursuit of the individual in every crowd, Lange (1895-1965) is a heroine of the lens. The Guardian, June 17, 2018


Art dealers slam proposed European Union licence regulations. The European Union is considering stringent new import licence regulations on cultural goods over 250 years old in order to help fight the funding of terrorism through illicit trade. The proposal as it stands is being fiercely opposed by international dealer associations, whose lobbyists argue that it is ill thought out and will damage the market. The planned regulations would require art, antiques and antiquities that are more than 250 years old (regardless of their value) to have import licences in order to enter an EU country.  The Art Newspaper, June 15, 2018

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