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


Dog-Ear to the Left of the Centrefold at Duplex, Vancouver. Now, in its third year of operation, Duplex is a project space programmed by a handful of artists with studios next to it. The current group exhibition Dog-Ear to the Left of the Centrefold considers the role of the artist as a knowledge producer and brings together four practices that construct unusual, yet valuable, forms of research. The artist-curators describe the exhibition as “examin(ing) how creative practices intend to resist and deviate from a network of hegemonies vis-a-vis works of edible sculpture, video, installation, publication and performance.”  Akimbo, May 22, 2019

Enchanting puppets tell world’s stories through Shadows, Strings and Other Things.  Full disclosure: I’ve never been a fan of puppets or puppetry. It was a surprise, then, that Shadows, Strings and Other Things, the Museum of Anthropology’s exhibition of puppets from Asia, Europe, and the Americas, won me over. Marionetas from Portugal, rukada from Sri Lanka, wayang kulit from Indonesia, budaixi from Taiwan, piyingxi from China, yoke thé from Myanmar, Punch and Judy from England, mamulengo from Brazil, dᵻugwe’ from this province’s Kingcome Inlet—all these diverse puppetry forms and traditions are fascinating.  – Robin Laurence.  Georgia Straight, May 22, 2019


aAron Munson takes Edmonton’s top art prize for his show Isachsen at DC3. Adding another award to his recent trove, thoughtful multimedia artist aAron Munson has taken the $10,000 Eldon + Anne Foote Edmonton Visual Arts Prize for his haunting show Isachsen, an exhibition sparked by his father’s isolation at remote weather station of the same name in the Canadian north.   Heavily bundled against subzero temperatures, Munson flew to the desolate and long-abandoned camp years after his father’s stay with just a guide, armed against polar bears they never encountered.  Edmonton Journal, May 17, 2019


Meryl McMaster at Glenbow Museum, Calgary.  Currently on display at Glenbow Museum, the arresting exhibition Confluence by Plains-Cree and Euro-Canadian artist Meryl McMaster comprises three photographic series. Each set of works creates a position for the artist to critique Indigenous identity in contemporary colonial society through the camera lens. Employing self-portraiture, McMaster places herself and her father within the field of vision through costuming and projected images by well-known photographers Edward Curtis and Will Soule, and painter George Caitlin.  Akimbo, May 22, 2019


Local artists’ group pushed for change at Remai Modern.  A secret conspiracy of local artists determined to alter the leadership of the Remai Modern art gallery might seem far-fetched to some in Saskatoon.  The truth is, there was nothing secret about the effort some think played a role in the removal of the fledgling art gallery’s leadership team.  The Star Phoenix, May 21, 2019


Gauguin: Portraits.  The life of Paul Gauguin can be traced through his portraits of others – from fellow artists in Paris and Pont-Aven in the 1880s to working-class families in the south of France during his ill-fated sojourn with Vincent van Gogh, to the inhabitants of French Polynesia, where Gauguin lived for the last decade of his life. The exhibition, which has been co-organised with the National Gallery in London, is the first to focus on this genre for the artist; it comprises some 70 works, spanning painting, drawing and sculpture.  Apollo Magazine, May 21, 2019


Grafting the Baroque: The Scaled-Up Frames of David Armstrong Six.  It was an unlikely win that David Armstrong Six and I conducted our walkthrough of his recent exhibition over a video call. I had already visited the work, installed at Montreal’s Darling Foundry. But this second viewing, via patchy wifi and a moving frame (variously capturing the artist’s ear and nose, his spiralled tunnels, a spider perched atop a sculpture, windblown drawings, and so much glinting light), seemed to mirror the piecemeal and fractal quality of the work itself. As he darted us through an expansive gallery peopled by sculptural forms, and around the installation’s larger scenography, Armstrong Six emphasized that Night School was one whole made out of so many wholes.  Momus, May 17, 2019


Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools. It was an off-chance meeting between Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and Evalyn Parry aboard a cruise ship headed to Greenland, Laakkuluk’s maternal homeland, that sparked a friendship (and collaboration) forged in the history of Canada. For the performance of Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools, they paired up to show how their individual experiences could represent two different cultural perspectives (Evalyn grew up in Toronto) in a poignant yet comedic collaboration. Although they may live worlds apart, they realized they are more the same than different, and both challenge their respective internal conflicts… when she described the times when she was growing up with her parents, Laakkuluk began placing black paint on her face and balls in her mouth. Thereafter, she began her powerful and mesmerizing dance, with lyrics in Inuktitut and Kalaallisut, which only those familiar with the languages could understand. She then danced around the stage, seemingly in a shamanistic trance, pulling us into another world altogether.   Canadian Art, May 21, 2019

New Haven, CT

An Artist’s Take on the Symbiotic Relationship of Art and Nature. Film, metalwork, and America’s natural landscape all collide in Redoubt, the latest exhibition by Matthew Barney. Whether or not the controversial artist’s work has been successful seems a matter of perspective. Nonetheless, Barney has persisted, and you can’t deny that his latest exhibition is an ambitious undertaking by an artist aware that his output has been divisive. The Redoubt exhibition, which will remain on view at the Yale University Art Gallery until June 16, encompasses a two-hour film set in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, huge detailed brass and copper sculptures of logs, and 40 engraved and electroplated copper plates.  Hyperallergic, May 22, 2019

New York

Pioneering Video Artist Gretchen Bender Predicted Our Obsession with Screens. Gretchen Bender’s Untitled (Narcotics of Surrealism) features contemporary news footage, but was actually created over three decades ago, in 1986. Advertisements, art, politics, and their confluence in mass media often find no delineation in our current moment, and Bender’s work today feels uncannily prophetic. The phenomenal retrospective of her work, “So Much Deathless,” at Red Bull Arts in New York through July 28th, weaves together a dense collection of her work from the early 1980s to the early aughts, before her death from cancer at age 53 in 2004. Predating an era of “fake news,” endless scrolls, branded content, and algorithmic social feeds, Bender pioneered an aggressively abrasive art that critiques the seduction of mass media. Artsy, May 22, 2019

How Jeff Koons’s “Rabbit” Became Big Game.  Last week, Jeff Koons set the record for the world’s most expensive art work by a living artist—again—when his three-and-a-half-foot-high, stainless-steel “Rabbit” sold for ninety-one million dollars, at Christie’s. The previous record was held, for six short months, by David Hockney, whose painting of a swimming pool went, last November, for eight hundred thousand dollars less. Both pieces brought the hammer down at eighty million dollars, but a recent rejiggering of Christie’s fees gave “Rabbit” the edge…Being expensive is not the same as being great. Koons’s “Rabbit” is both.   The New Yorker, May 21, 2019

Metropolitan Museum of Art invites artists to make new sculptures for Fifth Avenue facade.  [The Met’s Director], Max Hollein’s commitment to integrating Modern and contemporary art at the Met’s Fifth Avenue building is evident in the upcoming exhibition programme, most notably, the fulfilment of his promise of new annual commissions for two public spaces. The Cree Canadian artist Kent Monkman, whose practice is “a new idea of modern history painting” will make monumental paintings for the Great Hall (19 December-12 February 2020). And the Kenya-born artist Wangechi Mutu, who makes pieces with “fantastic otherworldly narratives” has been chosen for the first ever project for the empty sculptural niches on the Fifth Avenue façade. She is creating sculptures—already being cast, based on works in the Met’s collection.  The Art Newspaper, May 22, 2019


Notre Dame is unstable: a strong wind could make the walls collapse, independent report says.  Notre Dame is not stable and urgently needs reinforcing. That is the conclusion of an initial assessment of damage caused by the fire which destroyed its roof and spire on the night of 15 April.  The collapse of a part of the vaults has severely reduced the safety of its structural system, which, in the case of a Gothic cathedral, does not rely on the heavy mass of the walls, as in classical architecture, but on discharging weight through clustered columns, external flying buttresses and counter-supports—a structural “exoskeleton” that until now has been extremely effective and resilient.  The Art Newspaper, May 21, 2019


The lost Louvre of Uzbekistan: the museum that hid art banned by Stalin.  This museum in a bleak outpost has one of the world’s greatest collections of avant-garde art, rescued from Stalin’s clutches by an electrician. But now it needs a rescue of its own.  The Guardian, May 21, 2019



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