Wednesday, 5 March 2008
The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social
Vancouver Art Gallery
February 2 to April 20, 2008
In a right handed world, given a choice of proceeding left or right at the top of a stairwell – with no indicated directions – one may assume the majority of visitors will commence their viewing heading to their right which may have occurred to the curator of this exhibit or maybe not. And in this case you would move from the sublime to the social as dictated by the title; however, veer to the left and you experience the exhibit from the social to the sublime. Does changing the direction of viewing alter the perception of the artworks and lead to different conclusions at the end? Maybe a question for the psychologists in the crowd.
Jochen Gerz: White Ghost #1-9
A very arresting group of large black and white photographs, which were taken on Cortes Island featuring nude islanders standing individually in the midst of fallen trees. Each has been documented with a personal quote that reveals the thoughts and feelings of the participants. Unfortunately, it was difficult to understand the significance of the two dozen or more semi tropical plants placed throughout the room; cedar, pine and fir nursery stock would better represent the clear cut timber, and the scent would have been evocative.
Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptan: MacMillan Bloedel: Eco system……..
Primitivism as an art genre……If the artist had yet to attain his teens, these pieces could have a voice……Sticking to vocal raging against the intruders on a looped tape has more potential……
Gordon Smith: Varied
The large canvases appear to be from the same series as displayed in the Equinox Gallery last year - deep, thick, lush coast forests: nearly every square inch covered by giant trees and impenetrable undergrowth. Yet each hints at hidden elements barely concealed, never revealed to the eye, but gently caressing the mind.
Kevin Schmidt: Fog 2004
Two back to back projected slides, approximately nine foot by nine foot, in an otherwise quiet darkened room. Remembrance of countless hikes and treks through the coastal mountains, waiting for sunlight to break through and lift the dampness from the still air.
An enjoyable exhibition, even if too heavily weighted to environmental concerns. Continued pressure on the industry to reduce the size and deleterious effects of clearcuts remains an important priority, but has to be tempered by societies need for this resource in all its varied forms and the economic benefits. The Vancouver Art Gallery has over the years been supported by the logging companies both monetarily and through gifts of art; so one should expect a balanced portrayal of our relationship with our trees and forests.