THE FAMILY DOG or: PAINT WHAT YOU LOVE

When I was about eleven years old, my Dad asked me to paint a simple image in poster paint of our family dog, Tia, as a prototype for a printmaking class he was preparing (he was an elementary school teacher). I had pretty much learned how to draw by making copies of images from cartoons, especially Walt Disney, and the Saturday morning comics that came as a supplement to the newspaper.

Lady and the Tramp (Disney): how to paint highlights on a nose

Those comics were delivered by a local paperboy, who would race down the driveway on his bike, shout “Here’s yer paper!” and dash off again. Our two dogs Jinx and Cocoa waited all day with evil anticipation for this very moment. With Olympian speed, they would race around the corner of the house to the front door. Jinx would seize the paper in her jaws and shake the paper into smithereens, after which Cocoa would pee…er…urinate… on the shreds. It was a race against time for us to interrupt these two partners in crime before they executed the dreadful deed.

But I digress.

This summer I had the opportunity to paint a different dog image, while teaching private classes to a 12-year old student.

I had met her parents when I was looking for a new home on Vancouver Island. Although I ended up not renting their suite, synchronicity was at play because they had meanwhile checked out my website and were excited to learn I teach art classes! Their eldest daughter has always loved to paint, and has been getting great results through her lessons with 4Cats. But her parents felt she was at the stage of needing some more detailed guidance, and they were eager to have her train with me.

I encouraged them to sign her up for introductory oil painting lessons, as she already had a nice facility with paint-handling using acrylics. The family would be traveling on their summer holidays, so I recommended a quick-drying oil-painting medium: Gamblin Galkyd Lite.

VALUE SCALE

Over seven lessons, we covered the concept of value (the range of light to dark), how to pre-mix some of the main colours before diving into the painting part of a session, and how the best way to work with oil paint is to block in the dark values and mid-tones (on the value scale above, the mid-tone would be the “3”). It’s a good idea to hold back on painting the lightest passages to near the completion stage, to avoid muddy colours.

I remember, when I first learned to paint, that watching the instructor at work was probably the most exciting and important part of understanding how to use the materials. I still get a bit of a thrill watching other artists do their thing on Youtube! So with beginners I usually paint along with the student.

One of my heroes: Bob Ross

She chose several subjects, including a flower, a couple of landscapes, and her final project, a portrait of the family dog. Here is my version:

And here is the student’s version, which I think has a special sparkle.

Beautiful things happen when you paint what you love!

If you know of anyone who would really enjoy learning how to paint, or has some knowledge already and wants to go deeper, check out my Class Menu for several options I will be teaching this Fall. I also offer mentorships, critiques and demos.

You can tune in to a live demonstration, “Space and Light: Painting the Domestic Interior” I will be giving online with Opus Art Supplies on Saturday, October 9, 11am – 12:30. The announcement is not yet up on their website, but I will send a newsletter soon with the details. Meanwhile check out some of the other inspiring demos on offer with Opus in the next several weeks.

Talk soon!

Final Day: STUDIO MOVING SALE!

Hey folks,

Saturday May 22 is my last day at Parker.

Lots of things have been happily moving out to people’s homes, but there is some artwork left if you want to come in and grab some little treasures before I leave town. Discounts are to be had. 😉

This little painting I made onsite at Pere LaChaise cemetary in Paris. Was $1100, now $900.

I carried it in one of these nifty plein air carrying cases by Raymar. They are great for carrying slim 9 x 12″ wet painting panels. New these were $30 USD. Going for $15. I have 3 of them to sell.

$300

I also have this cute little paint box made by Opus. $10.

More stuff, you have to come and look!

Text me to let me know when you are coming: 778-865-2650

I look forward to seeing you there!

xVal

Manet and In the Studio

This is something I’m working on right now. It’s the interior of a bistro I fell in love with on Rue Oberkampf in Paris. I really enjoyed the zing of colour of the fruit, and the play of morning light bouncing around on various surfaces. And of course the fuschia pink bar stool are très française. At right are gleaming bottles and glassware which will be really fun to paint when I dive back in to finish this.

Initially I made a smaller version of this painting, but realized the subject warranted a bigger scale for a more immersive experience.

The new canvas is 24 x 32 inches. This is not a custom size you can find off the rack at the art supply store, so my darling man cut down a 24 x 36 canvas for me.

I like to use a grey palette at this stage, so I can see how highlights stand out against that midtone. The final hits on the painting are usually the lightest lights, and the darkest darks. I am nuts about the in-between colour mixtures that you can’t quite name, the “greyed down” colours which help the brighter colours sing out.

As usual this is a process through which the painting will eventually tell me what it wants to be, and the meaning comes through the making.

When I see this kind of setting, I can’t help but think of Manet’s brilliant painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergère which he painted in 1882. I dare not compare my work to his, but I am certainly inspired by his lush use of thick paint, and his ability to strategically choose what to emphasize in the composition. This is exceptionally sophisticated art-making.

https://courtauld.ac.uk/gallery/collection/impressionism-post-impressionism/edouard-manet-a-bar-at-the-folies-bergere

I was fortunate to be able to view this painting first-hand at the Courtauld Institute in London. This is from the institution’s website:

This painting was Manet’s last major work. It represents the bustling interior of one of the most prominent music halls and cabarets of Paris, the Folies-Bergère. The venue opened in 1869 and its atmosphere was described as “unmixed joy”. In contrast, the barmaid in Manet’s representation is detached and marooned behind the bar.

The Folies-Bergère was also notorious as a place to pick up prostitutes. The writer Guy de Maupassant described the barmaids as “vendors of drink and of love”.

Manet knew the place well. He made a number of preparatory sketches there but the final work was painted in his studio. He set up a bar and asked one of the barmaids, Suzon, to serve as his model.

The painting was first exhibited in 1882, at the annual fine arts exhibition in Paris, the Salon. Visitors and critics found the composition unsettling. The inaccuracy of the barmaid’s reflection, shifted too far to the right, has continued to spark much debate.

To my mind, good painting that stands the test of time needs to be aesthetically captivating to keep the viewer’s attention (it is visual art after all), but also open to a number of interpretations that cannot be locked down.

However as humans we are captivated by story; we are compelled to know more.

It is possible that he was directly pointing to the barmaid being just another seductive object for consuming with one’s gaze–notice the two round white electric globes flanking her, echoing the lens of binoculars held by a woman in the crowd.

Manet was also known to be an admirer of the work of Spanish court painter, Diego VelĂ squez. A similar contradictory space and perplexing riddle are present in VelĂ squez’ Las Meninas.

https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/las-meninas/9fdc7800-9ade-48b0-ab8b-edee94ea877f

The painter is looking out at the scene he is creating. Like in Manet’s Bar scene, in the spotlight here is also a beautiful female wearing a corsage on her breast. She looks out at us, while her courtiers attend her. At back is a also a mirror, this time reflecting the images of the king and queen who in this space would seem to be in the studio but only apparent through their reflection. Their physical presence is only implied, and is outside the frame. In the 17th century, when this was painted, the young princess was being groomed to be the wife and queen in a politically arranged marriage to further the power of the Spanish monarchy. So she too is merely an object for trade. Everyone here has their role to play, and know their place.

But although it would appear that all is luxury and ease, the Spanish monarchy was in fact crumbling and its King, Philip II who was Velasquez’ patron, was a weak ruler. One could say that VelĂ squez was a skilled propaganda artist. The fact that he painted himself into this image may suggest he is saying directly to future viewers of his masterpiece, “I painted this, and I knew what was actually going on.”

VelĂ squez, an avid reader of philosophy, knew that creation is alchemy. We artists conjure our own realities through the power of our imaginations, with the skills of our hearts, minds, and hands.

C’est cool, non?

A bientĂ´t, Val

To Touch Something is to Love It

I’ve finally completed the painting above “Paris in Springtime”, which I have been working on for at least a couple of years now, off and on.

Engaging myself in the studio this summer helps me remember fondly my times spent in the city of many greys.

Right now I’m thinking back to Paris, where I was in May of 2017…

Because I would soon be teaching a painting workshop in Tuscany, and I hadn’t painted very much at all since the car crash, I wanted to get back into the groove by painting from life. I had brought with me a great plein air setup which involves a Strada paintbox recommended by fellow Vancouver painter Marie Josenhans. You can attach it to a standard camera tripod.

I laid out some oil colours in the paintbox, and with excitement set out early one morning to the beautiful Père Lachaise Cemetary. As I was unfolding my tripod, an official came by and insisted I take it down. It was the “regles” or rules: no tripods in the cemetary. I pondered what might be the reason for this–perhaps because I might kill some ghosts? Ha ha ha!

At any rate, I was not going to not paint this fantastic place, so I put the tripod away, and placed my paint box on a tombstone, working quickly before the light changed too much. Similar to when I draw, I felt like my paint brush was actually touching what I was looking at––the surfaces of the stones, the textures of the leaves and grasses as they shimmered in the early morning breeze.

Which brings to mind a quote from a book I love, All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This stunningly beautiful story is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

In the early chapters of the story, little Marie-Laure accompanies her father to his place of work, the Museum of Natural History in Paris. She loves to explore the fascinating collections of nature specimens there.

“To really touch something, she is learning—the bark of a sycamore tree in the gardens; a pinned stag beetle in the Department of Etymology; the exquisitely polished interior of a scallop shell in Dr. Geffard’s workshop—is to love it.”

As the German troops force her and her father to flee the city into the countryside, she experiences many difficult realizations about the evils that humankind can inflict on others:

“This, she realizes, is the basis of all fear. That a light you are powerless to stop will turn on you and usher a bullet to its mark.”

Werner, an innocent young German boy with a natural talent for fixing electronics, has a dream to be a scientist, falls guilelessly into serving Hitler’s military as a wireless radio operator.

The painterly prose generates great empathy for both protagonists by helping us understand how two people can be caught in the middle of a conflict that neither have asked for. I think I can honestly say it’s one of the top ten novels I’ve read in my life.

Another painting project I really wanted to do was a portrait study in oil of Stella Libert, a talented cinematographer I had met through my Canadian-Parisian friend Dana Wyse. Stella agreed to sit for me in her lovely petite apartment not too far from the Père Lachaise.

I’m really glad I took a photo of the study, because when we reconvened a few days later for another sitting, I couldn’t make it better, and in fact it actually lost something in the process. So I eventually painted over it.

Merde!

Oh, excusez-moi.

Sometimes a study is just meant to be what it is: a recording of the process of looking. It doesn’t have to be “finished”. So you painters out there, be okay not to censor yourself! Your initial impulse may contain some of the best of what is unique to you. Keep those studies hanging around, they may remind you of what you are capable of.

By the way, below you can see a beautiful short film made by Stella called “Paris Je T’Aime”, which artfully follows two parkour artists over the rooftops of Paris as they break the “regles” through exerting their freedom to defy gravity.

And here is a bonus little segment that shows Stella at work directing and filming it. Très cool:

Until next time, Ă  bientĂ´t.

PARIS PORTRAITS: The Act of Looking

Still life objects and snacks (caisse-croutes)

Dana Wyse, a Canadian conceptual artist friend of mine who lives in Paris, has a very interesting practice. She makes pills that cure the perceived ills of the world. You can find her artistic apothecary in contemporary art exhibitions, and at a regular spot in the bookshop at the Palais de Tokyo.

Understand Public Sculpture (Dana Wyse)
Speak French Instantly (Dana Wyse)
Palais de Tokyo bookshop, Paris. Dana Wyse artworks on display.

Dana graciously set up an opportunity for me to give a drawing lesson to some of her friends, with the agreement that they would sit for me to draw their portraits. On a Saturday afternoon shortly before 2pm, I showed up at her studio apartment in the northern edge of Paris. The complex she lives in, La Maladrerie (which seems to translate as “the Leper Colony”), has an interesting cultural mix of artists and immigrants, with streets named after painters, such as Allee Gustav Courbet and Allee Matisse. It is a bit of a labyrinth, so Dana met me at a stone wall near Allee Georges Braque and shepherded me in to her spacious modernist flat that also serves as her studio.

Soon her guests arrived with snacks to contribute to the table. Dana has all kinds of cool and odd things she collects and displays in her apartment.

I chose as our main still life subject a taxidermy fox which seemed to be leaking saw-dust. Dana added a baseball, a plastic rose, and a miniature faux bourgeois armchair to the arrangement.

One of the three guests was MĂŠlissa Laveaux, who is a talented musician with roots in Canada and Haiti. I wish I had a jpeg of the awesome drawing she did of the fox’s fierce-looking head, but you will just have to imagine it. The other two visitors, Sarah, who is a bit of a poet and a bit mysterious, and Stella, a cinematographer, made some nice work too.

The following day I received an enthusiastic email from Dana saying they all had had a great time, and that MĂŠlissa wanted another lesson. Meanwhile we also received some complimentary tickets to MĂŠlissa’s upcoming sold-out concert.

It was a treat to have the opportunity to see and hear her perform. She arrived on stage bearing a striking yellow electric guitar and a bright flower in her beautiful dark dreadlocks. MĂŠlissa charmed us with her self-deprecating wit, skillful playing, and sensuous voice. After the concert we went for a drink with her and Pauline, a young painter at a low-key bar within walking distance of the theatre.

They mostly spoke French and I was a bit mystified about what was being said. I think since Dana is fluent they may have assumed at first that all Canadians know French. I can speak like a five-year old more or less. Dana apparently sounds like a Californian to her French-speaking friends.

Pauline joined us at the next drawing lesson I gave MĂŠlissa, which we did at Melissa’s apartment in Belleville. We then went to the nearby park on a hill, and sat on the concrete steps overlooking Paris:

MĂŠlissa has a lot on the go with her performing and song-writing, and asked if she could do some admin on her smartphone while I made the pencil drawing of her in my Moleskine, and Pauline just hung out with us.

MĂŠlissa Laveaux, 2017, pencil in Moleskine sketchbook

The next week Pauline N’Gouala and I met at the Parc aux Buttes Chaumont and had a lovely walk and chat while she told me a bit about herself and her artwork. A wonderful afternoon with a warm, beautiful person.

Sarah, a soft-spoken young American woman who has been living in Paris for a while now, hosted me at her then Bois de Boulogne loft apartment. She shared her courtyard garden with a neighbour and friend, another Sara, who represents photographers.

Here is Julien, who I met briefly at a cafĂŠ, who stood shyly for only 20 minutes for me and then disappeared.

There’s something really special about sharing time and space with a person who makes herself vulnerable to being looked at. This experience is very different from working from a photograph, it is much more energetically charged, there is a sense of urgency, an awareness that this moment is fleeting. You have to focus more intensely.

Which brings me to my announcement that I am hosting a new in-person painting workshop, “Empathy and Embodiment” in a large new studio on the weekend of August 15 and 16, great for social distance learning. If you have been living your life online for the past several months, and are craving social interaction, this will be a safe and inspiring way to do that! I would love to see you there.

Check it out and let me know as soon as possible if you’d like to join in, as it may be quite popular. 🙂

I’m also starting to teach painting and drawing classes one-on-one and small groups online. and as many as three people in-person in my airy studio. I can tailor a class to your specific needs. Shoot me an email and we can set something up! val@valnelson.ca 778-865-2650

Paris: Modern Life

Boulangerie Gaia, Boulevard Voltaire, 11th arrondissement

‘We are going to get back our way of life, our taste for freedom – in other words, we are going to rediscover France fully again’. According to the June 14, 2020 news from The Independant, French president Emmanuel Macron made this statement, which means the famous bar and cafĂŠ culture so treasured by the French can officially restart fully, with Paris declared a “green zone” of safety as the pandemic relaxes its hold on the world.

This is thrilling news, sending a signal to all of us that things will always eventually get better. Pour moi, I feel good just imagining the relief and (albeit cautious) optimism Parisian citizens must feel upon re-emerging from their strict two-month lock-down. For many in the City of Light, the cafĂŠ is an extension of their home living spaces, which tend to be small and confining.

The cafĂŠ is where creative ideas are born, where people meet before and after work to socialize, and where a delicious, relaxing lunch in a neighbourhood restaurant may be taken before heading back to the office. This is the beautiful rhythm of day-to-day living so important to one’s joie de vivre (zest for life) .

When something has been taken away, it feels more precious when you get it back.

That April three years ago, when I woke up in my little 11th arrondissement flat on the first day of a five-week Parisian soujourn., I was repeatedly amazed and grateful to actually be there. All of my senses were super-heightened: tastes, colours, sounds. It was like I too had just emerged from lock-down and could experience more fully the joy of life once again while I continued to heal.

This is the spot where I often started my day, enjoying a to-die-for croissant aux chocolat et aux amandes––do the French know what to do with butter and sugar or what? And sipping a café créme, which is basically a flat white, while watching the locals go about their day.

One day while I was sitting in my usual window spot, I watched a young mother walking her little son to school. They paused in front of my window so that she could take a hairbrush out of her bag, smooth his disarrayed coiffe and apply HAIR SPRAY before heading out. In France, aesthetics are très important!

The thing you must do for sure when you visit Paris: just walk around and notice what comes across your path. The city is meant to be savored on foot. This is known as flânerie, a term which became widely used in 19th century Paris. A flâneur or flâneuse is a stroller or wanderer with enough means that allows her to walk the city with no particular purpose besides pleasure.

“The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude,

amid the ebb and flow of movement,

in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world,

and yet to remain hidden from the world.

Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life”, 1863

Gustave Caillebotte: Raboteurs de parquet, 1875 oil on canvas
Paris, France Šphoto MusĂŠe d’Orsay

The Impressionists and other emerging French painters of the 19th century were at the zeitgeist of the explosion of changes to industrial society with their keen observations of modern life. In their brave move away from the academy-approved history and allegorical painting, they created a new kind of painting, a more subjective expression of human experience of their time.

Edouard Manet depicted family and friends in this ambitious painting of crowds of bourgeois Parisians relaxing out-of-doors. If you look closely you can find Baudelaire and a self-portrait of the artist.

Manet, Music in the Tuilieries, MusĂŠe D’orsay, Paris

Manet famously did not idealise what he observed around him, which got him into trouble with the Academy at times. Here is his Bar at the Folies Bérgère (above), which he painted in 1882 . The objects are seductively rendered in thick gestural paint––the glowing liqueur and beer bottles, fruits and glassware, and the beautiful bar-maid with vacant expression who is also an object for the consumption of the crowd reflected in the mirror behind her, and for us.

Here is CĂŠcile Laforest, the bartender at L’Eventail where I would sometimes stop for a snack. She was so kind to me as I practiced my French. She would diplomatically switch to fluent English to tell me about herself. She is an actress, a comĂŠdienne, and sometimes model. You can check out her Instagram page to see what she’s up to now. Très sympathique, et très talenteuex!

We’ll talk some more about the act of looking in my next blog.

In the meantime, enjoy being more free to wander around your neighbourhood as most of us are feeling safer to get out there, go to a cafĂŠ, bar, or restaurant, and enjoy the summer.

A bientĂ´t!

Val

Paris and Anticipation

I was supposed to be in Paris with my sweetie in March this year, but we had to postpone our trip almost at the last moment when the global pandemic developed with such surprising speed. Since we won’t be going anywhere for a while, I’ve decided to share with you some events from my five week dream stay in Paris in 2017.

What made the trip extraordinary was that there was a very real chance it could never happen.

In late summer of 2016 I made my plan: I’d wake up in Paris on April 1 (my birthday), live six weeks in Paris “like a Parisian”, then move on to teach a two-week painting workshop in Tuscany. Then I’d wrap up my trip by meeting a friend to see the Venice Biennale. Très excitant!

Everything was on track: I had ramped up my entrepeneurial chops by meeting my financial goals through selling my art; my Tuscan painting holiday was close to fully booked; I had bought my air ticket to Paris, and booked an AirBnB for a really great price.

Ooh la la, I was stoked. I was so amazed that I was making this dream a reality. But I was a bit tired from all this activity. So I took a little break in California to get some sunshine. This is me practicing plein air in Palm Desert on November 29.

On November 30 came the car crash.

Oops.

Rush Hour 3

The next several months I spent convalescing. I had a concussion, a broken clavicle (my painting arm), major whiplash, and for a while I had difficulty walking. And I couldn’t paint. Argh. I lay awake unable to know what to do. Should I cancel my trip?

Self-portrait with broken clavicle

It was my dark night of the soul. Since I couldn’t be in the studio, and I love making the most of my time, I thought it would be a good idea to work on my “art career”. When I began working with two different life coaches, it became obvious that what I really needed to address was some deep stuff within myself. So I spent the winter in meditation, and began sorting it all out.

Bubble

By mid-March, even though I couldn’t yet lift my suitcase, my doctors and physiotherapists deemed me well enough to go to Europe. Hurray! I could spend some of my convalescence in Paris––pas mal, non? I figured sitting in some cafĂŠs, looking at art, and maybe making a few drawings should be fine, and I would likely be much stronger by the time I got to do the working portion of my “holiday” in Italy, so things were looking pretty rosy.

Then, the vertigo kicked in. Or what I later learned is actually something called “disequilibrium”. But more on that later.

At any rate, I was still able to leave for France only two weeks later than planned.

Charles de Gaulle airport

When I arrived on a sunny mid-April afternoon and found my new home in the 11th arrondissement, I remembered that I had booked my accommodation the previous fall knowing full-well that there was no elevator. And my suite was on the sixth floor. That’s one of the reasons it was so cheap!

Although I usually like to travel light, my suitcase this time was extra large because of the length of my stay, and the fact that I had brought along art supplies for my upcoming painting workshop. Because I had been in “business” mode for four months, I also had foolishly brought along office supplies, including a stapler that must have weighed nearly half a pound! What was I thinking? Okay, I’ll give myself some slack, I was after all recovering from a concussion.

Needless to say, there was no way I was going to be able to get my stuff up there the normal way. So I treated the ground floor like base camp, and gradually decanted things up the long spiralling staircase over several stages.

The place was pretty tiny, and obviously they’d got most of their decor from Ikea. But I was in Paris!

Stay tuned for more Parisian adventures in my next installment. Meanwhile, I thought I’d pass along a tip on a très charmant online show I’ve been escaping into lately during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s called Little Paris Kitchen, hosted by Rachel Khoo, a young British Cordon-Blue trained chef who demystifies French cooking for us in her tiny Paris flat. She turns her little place into a restaurant at night that can only seat two people at a time! You can find it on CBC Gems and watch it for free.

A bientĂ´t!

OVERVIEW OF PAINTING CLASSES

Lovely artwork by a 12-year old student who has been studying oil-painting with me.
Her choice of subject matter was the family dog. How can that not be inspiring?

I teach online and in-person group and one-on-one painting and drawing classes . My classes include Painting for Beginners, Painting Landscape, Colour Theory, Drawing, and sometimes Open Painting Studio for artists to keep the momentum going in their practice in the company of others artists (see the Class menu at the top right of the page).

My home studio is in Courtenay, about a half-hour south of Campbell River on Vancouver Island, and just a little over an hour north of Nanaimo. Private sessions are customized to the student’s specific needs. I teach all levels, from age 11 to adult. The focus for the sessions may include general painting technical training, critiques and/or coaching, to help students with their creative process. My approach is positive and constructive; I teach painting in oil or acrylic.

I also love performing demos for painting groups and art stores, such as the Opus Art Supplies demos I have done over the years.

Do you have an idea for a class you would like to see that is not listed above? Shoot me an email or give me a call and perhaps we can set something up for you! Class fees under “Other Options” in Classes drop-down above. 🙂

val@valnelson.ca 778-865-2650

Haptic Splendour

For the past 15 years, I’ve painted opulent European 18th and 19th century interiors. Designed as theatrical displays of status and power by wealthy aristocrats and bourgeoisie, these formerly private sites are now museums, providing entertainment and pleasure for touristic consumption, while also opening up a space for philosophical contemplation.

Although I use photography as a structural device through which I enter the painting process, with each piece I always seem to arrive at a point of crisis where I need to break free from the tyranny of the image. Through partly destroying the image I discover fresh solutions to painterly problems I set for myself.

Throughout my childhood and into my mid-twenties, I was a ballet dancer. That intense training of spatial awareness and interpretive questioning is still deeply stamped in my DNA. A painting to me is a kind of choreography; there’s a haptic dance that takes place from my optical experience of an image, through to the way my nervous system signals to my body how to translate and record it. As painter/dancer I tease out meaning through working and reworking, coming up to speed as I gain understanding, and making the last strikes with absolute commitment.

Flow: Works from the Permanent Collection

See paintings, sculptures, and ceramics from our Permanent Collection that “flow” in different ways. (Featured image: Val Nelson, Rush Hour 2 (2014), oil on canvas, 122 cm x 152 cm. Collection of Surrey Art Gallery, gift of the artist.)

Our world is marked by the ever-present movement of peoples, products, and ideas over vast distances and at rapid speeds. These movements and transmissions dictate the limits of life, the energetic potential of nature, the dynamics of economies, and the transformative potential of society and individuals.

Sara Graham, Thornton Rail Yard, Surrey #4 (2015), mixed papers and silicone glue.

Drawing from Surrey Art Gallery’s permanent collection, the over two dozen artworks presented address numerous themes, including transnational migration, the circulation of information and data, the force of waterways and weather systems, the physical movement of human bodies, and the transportation of materials and products to market by rail or by foot.

Some works, like Val Nelson’s painting Rush Hour 2 (2014), draw attention to the flow of people in our cities. In particular, Nelson’s work examines the relationship between the congestion of our roadways with our culture’s enthusiasm for grand detached homes and single-occupancy vehicles. Delving more into the movement of goods, Sara Graham’s Thornton Railyard, Surrey, BC (2015) uses miniature filigreed collage techniques to depict the contours and history of movement of one of British Columbia’s largest rail yards.

Brendan Tang, Manga Ormolu Version 4.1-a (2009), ceramic clay and mixed media.

Soheila Esfahani’s The Immigrants: Homage to F.H. Varley (2015) reimagines a classic image of new immigrants arriving in Canada as seen in Varley’s c.1922 painting with found blue and white porcelain plates and custom ceramic decals. Brendan Lee Satish Tang’s brightly coloured clay vessel Manga Ormolu Version 4.1-a (2009) combines stylistic elements from Ming Dynasty era ceramics with techno-pop robotic elements reminiscent of Japanese anime, manga, toys, and video games. Out of Tang’s vessel gushes a black pumice-like ectoplasm meant to evoke both nineteenth-century spiritualism and twentieth-century science fiction. The potential for gushing black liquid of another sort is seen in Edward Burtynsky’s large-scale photographs showing shiny steel liquid natural gas pipelines zig-zagging across British Columbian landscapes.

The wide variety of images and objects make visible some of the most central conflicts and issue of our time.

The opening reception is the evening of April 14th.
We hope that you will be able to join us for the opening and post-opening gathering later that same evening.

Exhibition Details
Location: Surrey Art Gallery – 13750 88 Ave
Price: Free
Date: Apr 14, 2018 – Jun 10, 2018
Hours:
Tuesday – Thursday, 9am – 9pm
Friday, 9am-5pm
Saturday, 10am-5pm
Sunday, 12-5pm
Closed Mondays and holidays