Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, April 23, 2019


Leftovers: Topographies of Chance.   “Founded in 1997 by curator and writer Patrik Andersson, Trapp Projects ignores classic distinctions within art organizing, manoeuvring between publications, institutional exhibitions and experimental projects. Since its beginnings, Trapp Projects has been inspired by Romanian-Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri’s Tableau Piège or Snare-pictures, a series of random compositions—remnants left after a meal, for example—photographed in their found arrangement…There is something earnest and refreshing about the Trapp Projects temporary commercial project space in a scene otherwise dominated by artist-run centres and public institutions. With its hybrid approach (most work is for sale, yet it’s not technically a commercial gallery), Trapp affords a platform to artists who might not otherwise have access to this degree of exposure and gallery representation while also collaborating with commercial spaces whose artists are included in the exhibition.” Canadian Art, April 18, 2019


National education award for Surrey Art Gallery at museums association conference in Toronto.  Staff at the Surrey Art Gallery are celebrating a national award for outstanding achievement in education. On April 17 in Toronto, the Newton-area facility was recognized for its Indigenous contemporary art education and engagement during the Canadian Museums Association’s national conference.   Last year, the gallery launched an Indigenous Contemporary Art Intensive, “a summer residency in their TechLab where five young artists developed their practice and worked alongside mentors,” according to a city release.  Cloverdale Reporter, April 18, 2019


Inuvialuk artist longlisted for Sobey contemporary art award.  Inuvialuk artist Kablusiak works in a wide range of mediums: a razor, cigarettes, a menstrual cup, pilot biscuits, and a sex toy carved out of soapstone; felt-stitched panels depicting a parka-clad person carrying groceries, and a person checking Facebook on the toilet.  Kablusiak has been longlisted for the Sobey Art Award — the first Inuvialuk artist to be nominated for the prize. The award promotes the development of contemporary Canadian art…The artist was born in Yellowknife but raised in Edmonton. Kablusiak’s family comes from Tuktoyaktuk and Sachs Harbour. Kablusiak uses humour to address cultural displacement and reject dated ideas of contemporary Indigenous identity.  CBC News, April 22, 2019


Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman. 4 Waters: Deep Implicancy” arranges a fever of the world that builds up to a revelatory fracture, held inside the power of an earthquake. With their second experimental collaboration (following Serpent Rain 2016, commissioned by Stefano Harney), Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman present a 29-minute film of the same name, installed in a darkened room, with accompanying sound and beanbag chairs sprawled on the floor for viewing. Through a composition of images of world history, extractive violence, nuclear testing, slavery and revolt, forced migration, war, the magma underground and desires held in cellular life, the collaborators mean to continue unthinking the world through the project of a film without time.   Canadian Art, April 2019

Deeper Wounds: Nep Sidhu and Aestheticizing Trauma. To reconstitute memory that has been violently suppressed, we often turn toward the monumental, hoping to fill a discursive void with a profusion of symbols and images. Nep Sidhu’s Medicine for a Nightmare (they called, we responded) – which recently closed at Toronto’s Mercer Union, and travels next to Calgary’s Esker Foundation – engages with communal trauma in this mode. Comprising textiles, metalwork, sculpture, sound, and photography, Sidhu’s work steps into the contested terrain of collective memory, and reflects on the 1984 massacres of Sikh people at the hands of the Indian Government.  Momus, March 28, 2019


National Gallery draws a fresh impression of Gauguin in new exhibit.  A new exhibition at Ottawa’s National Gallery of Canada hopes to present fresh insight into Paul Gauguin, a French post-impressionist painter who — thanks to our love of his bright colours, bold contrasts, overt symbolism and a century of retellings of his larger-than-life biography — most of us probably already think we know pretty well.  The show, Gauguin: Portraits, opens on May 24 (tickets have just gone on sale) and is the first to focus exclusively on the artist’s portraiture, with the hope that, by narrowing in on this one aspect of his painting, we might get a broader understanding of the artist.  Toronto Star, April 19, 2019

New Nietzsche exhibit explores the philosopher’s influence on art.  This season’s installment of the National Gallery of Canada’s Masterpiece in Focus series puts the spotlight on a large-scale bronze likeness of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Created by the renowned German artist Max Klinger in 1904, there are just three such busts in the world. This one was donated to the gallery 20 years ago.   The job of creating an art exhibit around a philosopher landed on the desk of Dr. Sebastian Schütze,  an art-history professor and dean of the faculty of historical and cultural studies at the University of Vienna in Austria, who discovered the piece when he was in Ottawa to co-curate the 2011 Caravaggio exhibit.  Ottawa Citizen, April 19, 2019


Growing Freedom: Q&A with Yoko Ono on art, peace and the Montreal Bed-In As the 50th anniversary of the Bed-In approaches, a major exhibition of Ono’s artwork opens at the Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain.  Montreal Gazette, April 19, 2019


Province announces $130M plan for art gallery on Halifax waterfront.  A new $130-million art gallery will be built next to Bishop’s Landing on the Halifax waterfront on land currently being used as a parking lot on Lower Water Street.   The Nova Scotia government announced Thursday the 13,000-square-metre facility will feature large public spaces “and additional space to better showcase the dynamic provincial art collection, much of which has been in storage for many years.”  It will house the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, which will move from its current 8,300-square-metre building on Hollis Street.  CBC News, April 18, 2019

Los Angeles

Los Angeles County Museum of Art Goes for Splash and Experimentation.  A tsunami of criticism has crashed upon the shores of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and its director, Michael Govan. Museum lovers and taxpayers — it’s a government-owned museum — just learned that the imperially expensive new building that Govan and the museum board want offers less, not more, space for the display of art. This is, as critics correctly note, unprecedented. It will also have little back-of-house space for offices and storage, meaning that the curators and art not on view will go to parts unknown but not in the museum’s main building on Wilshire Boulevard. Many claim that Govan and the trustees will wreck the museum.   LACMA has many good curators. It seems, though, that whenever it does a really great show, most of the time it comes from someplace else. The museum has always been on the fringe… In L.A. style, it’s time to do something fresh.   New Republic, April 20, 2019

South Dakota

The Legacy of Mary Sully: Early Indigenous Feminism, and the “American Indian Abstract”  Few people have seen the work of 20th-century Indigenous artist Mary Sully. Despite her belonging to a prominent Indigenous family (one of her drawings illustrates the cover of Speaking of Indians, 1944, an ethnography by her sister Ella Deloria), Sully’s life’s work sat in storage for at least 40 years, traveling from one family member to the next.   The Sully family is one that embodies cultural assimilation even while many of its members worked to expose the myriad physical and representational violence underwriting Indigenous-settler relations.  Momus, April 19, 2019

New York

Skyscrapers (and Museums) May Soon Face Environmental Restrictions in New York City.   Last week, New York City Council passed the Climate Mobilization Act, which will require buildings with more than 25,000 square feet of space to reduce their carbon emissions by 40% from 2005 levels by no later than 2030. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the rule into law. By comparison, the Climate Mobilization Act will activate in 2024 and affect an estimated 50,000 buildings throughout the city. According to the Urban Green Council, skyscrapers larger than 25,000 square feet represent only two percent of New York City’s buildings, but account for nearly half of all emissions. The city produces 50 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, and buildings account for approximately 67 percent of that; large skyscrapers, therefore, produce 35 percent (13 million tons) of carbon dioxide a year… Hospitals, public housing, and places of worship are exempt from the rule, however, museums are not. The Climate Mobilization Act will apply to the city’s many cultural institutions, including including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the New Museum.  Hyperallergic, April 22, 2019

Hilma af Klint Breaks Records at the Guggenheim Museum.  Hilma Af Klint: Paintings for the Future, a survey of the works of the Swedish abstract painter and occultist at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, has shattered previous records and became the museum’s most visited exhibition in its 60-year history.  Loved by museumgoers and critics alike, the popular exhibition has drawn 600,000 to the Guggenheim since it opened on October 12.   Hyperallergic, April 22, 2019


Make your mark: the enduring joy of drawing.  Drawing is democracy. Everyone does it. You doodle in the margins of this newspaper. I sketch the view while hanging on the phone. We draw on our hands, on walls, on the back of envelopes (like Monet), on office notepaper (like Van Gogh), on restaurant napkins (like Picasso and Warhol). We draw to pass the time, to catch the moment, to remind ourselves what we saw, felt or thought. We draw to see what life looks like in two dimensions. We draw because we can – and everyone can – and because we’re trying to improve. The Observer, April 21, 2019


The Notre-Dame fire was a warning bell, but will Europe listen?  In the wake of the fire last week that gutted Notre-Dame, questions are being raised about the state of thousands of other cathedrals, palaces and village spires that have turned France – as well as Italy, Britain and Spain – into open air museums of Western civilization.  If even an iconic building like Notre-Dame could not be protected from devastation, if such a potent symbol of France had to scramble for maintenance funds, that lays bare a culture of apathy that can undermine a shared history as well as the multibillion-dollar tourism industry upon which much of Europe depends. Globe & Mail, April 22, 2019


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