Mother’s Cupboard by Paul Wong. All photos by Kristin Lim.
We have a lot to learn from artists who share astute perceptions of the world through their art practices. Here’s a small selection of the numerous art exhibitions to see right now that engage, educate, question, push boundaries and provide solace.
INACTION | Visit Richmond Art Gallery to watch Free Fall: on Camera, a two-channel video work by internationally renowned artist Brendan Fernandes. It’s captivating and powerful. The film features 16 dancers moving in choreographed movements. Aerial shots where the dancers move kaleidoscopically are interspersed with close ups and dramatic lighting. At certain moments, a dancer falls. The others come together and collectively help pick up the fallen dancer. This occurs over and over again. While Free Fall: on Camera was created in response to the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando in 2016, where 49 queer, people of colour, died, it addresses a broader question of how we build community and, in the artist’s words, solidarity for our global landscape. The exhibition also features nine minimalist sculptures, —a playground for dancers—, designed in collaboration with Chicago architecture firm Norman Kelley.
MARIA-MARGARETTA | Everyday household things—rubber gloves, a plastic bag, a blouse, a straw hat,—make us look again in Maria-Margaretta’s solo exhibition, A brief retelling of a long story at Telephone Gallery. In Go Help Grandma With The Dishes, typical yellow dish gloves drape over yellow shelves to reveal a fringe made of tiny yellow beads. In another piece, a straw cowboy hat with a Budweiser logo hangs on the wall. On closer look, the trim is beaded with red seed beads. Telephone Gallery is an artist-run and -led initiative occupying the back gallery space at Macaulay & Co Fine Art, where the exhibiting artist selects the next artist to show. Artist Jack Kenna, who’s exhibition took place in January, describes why he selected Maria-Margaretta and reveals his favourite work:
“I was drawn to Maria’s work because it usually embeds an element of surprise and an unusual amount of attention to something you normally wouldn’t bat an eye at–which are ideas that I like to incorporate into my work as well. For that reason, I would have to say that my favorite piece is Look Under the Sink, a carefully beaded plastic bag.”
Who will Maria-Margaretta select for the gallery’s next show?
TRANCE | Returning to her hometown of Vancouver last year during the pandemic, artist Annie Forrest wanted to find ways to connect with the local photography community. The resulting exhibition, Trance, brings together photography by Forrest and Zac Cruz. The show feels spontaneous—photos cover the walls of the multi-room 11 Gallery, an apartment in downtown Vancouver, including the bathroom, hallway, and kitchen. Taken in various places including Vancouver, Dawson City, Montreal, New York, London, and Italy, the exhibition features images of blurred flowers, sweaty body parts, and people, printed on large format, glossy paper, mostly adhered to the walls without frames. Forrest, who curated the show, describes the process: “We sat down with a pile of our work and talked about why we love photography and it evolved spontaneously from there.” An ikebana arrangement by Kiichi Onodera in the gallery’s beverage room (aka living room), surrounded by gallery director David Look’s personal art collection.
CLOSES APRIL 18 | 11 GALLERY | SUNDAYS 1-3PM | BOOK A VISIT
WHOSE CHINATOWN? | Curated by Montreal-based artist and curator Karen Tam, Whose Chinatown? Examining Chinatown Gazes in Art, Archives, and Collections, brings together an art history of Chinatowns across Canada with artwork by historical and contemporary Canadian artists. In concept, the exhibition walks you through a traditional Chinatown association or society building, exploring the building’s typical three levels and their functions: Business/Storefront on the ground floor, Home and Residential on the first floor, Society/Community Hall on the top floor. This is an important exhibition with a lot to take in, from fascinating photo archives sourced from various private collections to videos, paintings, and installations. In particular, I loved the accordion books and zines by printmaker Marlene Yuen. Extensive public programming has been taking place over Zoom, almost weekly, with a virtual conference still to come on April 10th and April 11th. Details here.
A SEAT AT THE TABLE | Exploring the history of Chinese immigration in British Columbia, A Seat at the Table takes place at the Museum of Vancouver and the newly established Chinese Canadian Museum which is located in the historic Hong Hsing Building in Chinatown. Both exhibitions use food as a gateway to personal stories and experiences that reveal the hardship and racial discrimination endured by Chinese Canadians. Both exhibitions include interactive videos, virtual reality experiences, artefacts and photos from private collections. The more extensive presentation at Museum of Vancouver creates a restaurant atmosphere and hosts larger installations. A standout work is Paul Wong’s Mother’s Cupboard jars, a catalogue of the wide assortment of ingredients his mother kept in random jars, displayed pristinely.
SUBSCRIBE FOR SPAM MONTHLY | That’s Special Presentation Art Mail delivered to your inbox courtesy of Number 3 Gallery. #3 is a mobile curatorial project with exhibitions taking place in a variety of contexts, curated by Julie D. Mills and Julia Lamare. For the current project, artists have been invited to collaborate on a monthly interactive email work. January’s art mail was a virtual mood board titled Easter Eggs by Qian Cheng and Patrick Cruz. A collage in the form of a PDF, each image linked to a site of interest or source of information. February’s SPAM was music—a 15-minute EP where Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes plays music with Nick Short, Catalina Valenzuela, and Diane Sims. Visit the website for details and subscribe to receive SPAM for the month of March and future emails from #3. To enjoy past SPAM, contact the gallery.
SUBSCRIBE HERE | NUMBER 3 GALLERY
ELSEWHERE | I miss travelling to see art. I’ve half-heartedly peered into online viewing rooms offered by galleries and art fairs worldwide, but here’s one I did enjoy — David Hockney: My Normandy presented by LA Louver in Los Angeles. At 83-years old, Hockney has been sheltering in place at his 17th-century cottage in Normandy, France, where he has talked about turning to nature and drawing daily. My Normandy includes recent drawings and two massive, 40-foot-long friezes, offering an escape into an idyllic, pastoral landscape of a land far, far away.
VIEW ONLINE | LA LOUVER
NFTs! | Non-Fungible Tokens have been making headlines lately. What the heck are they and what do they have to do with art? I’m still trying to wrap my head around how a digital artwork by an artist who goes by Beeple commanded over $69 million (USD, paid for in crypto currency) at Christie’s, the auction house’s first ever sale of NFT art. Mind blown. Is this the future of legit, contemporary art? Christina Steinbrecher-Pfandt, the co-founder of blockchain.art, explains:
“A non-fungible token (NFT) is a type of cryptographic token that represents a unique asset. NFTs are tokenized versions of digital or real-world assets. They function as verifiable proofs of authenticity and ownership within a blockchain network. The NFT standard makes it possible to trade digital art in a very similar manner like physical work, fixed edition size. Right now, mass adaptation of the technology is starting. Soon, blockchain transactions will be a standard for everyone with regard to art trade, digital and physical. blockchain.art is a platform that offers a solution for galeries, museums, artists and players in the art world to sell NFTs through their existing websites with an NFT shop and via the option to simultaneously list on the bca [blockchain.art] marketplace.”
Need a little further learning? Look here:
Critric/Artist/Art Dealer Kenny Schachter’s opinion piece describing his entry into the wild world of NFTs and his handy glossary, NFT Terms for Crypto Art Converts; Stuart Jeffries in The Guardian on the booming crypto art scene; Sophie Haigney’s view that NFTs are a continuation of collecting as usual; four experts in the field discuss blockchain as the future of art; or watch this 5-minute video on NFTs and Art in the Digital Market.