Tania Willard, Secwepemc Nation, works within the shifting ideas of contemporary and traditional as it relates to cultural arts and production.Often working with bodies of knowledge and skills that are conceptually linked to her interest in intersections between Aboriginal and other cultures. Willard has worked as an artist in residence with gallery gachet in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, the Banff Centre’s visual arts residency, fiction and Trading Post and was a curator in residence with grunt gallery. Collection’s of Willard’s work include the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Kamloops Art Gallery and Thompson Rivers University. Willard’s recent curatorial work includes Beat Nation: Art Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture, featuring 27 contemporary Aboriginal artists currently at Vancouver Art Gallery.
CAROLINE MONNET, DEVIN TROY STROTHER, LAWRENCE PAUL YUXWELUPTUN
February 8–March 29, 2014
Barn Swallows brings together three artists whose works combine the vocabulary of popular and traditional visual-cultures with the tropes of modernist abstraction to create unique hybrids forms. Each artist uses this strategy for a different purpose, as the basis for formalist exploration, to consider representation’s role in the political tensions of modernity, or to reflect on the power dynamics at play in the portrayal of race and gender in art history and popular culture.
Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun’s recent ovoid paintings and sculptures complement his more familiar figurative tableaux of the past thirty years. While the idealized Northwest-Coast formline shapes are freed from their traditional depictive role, the titles nonetheless root these works in the artist’s broader concern with representation, the landscape and First Nations political struggles.
By contrast, Caroline Monnet’s Anomalia collage and silkscreen series approaches abstraction by splicing together found images of urban development, resource extraction and Hollywood depictions of First Nations culture, dissolving the originals into a fragmentary field of overlapping facets. These fields are, in turn, cropped into the shapes of silhouettes of animal and human figures—each image in the series offering a different view on the collision of nature and culture in recent history.
Devin Troy Strother’s high-relief assemblages and paintings centre around caricatures of black figures in sometimes gory, sexualized scenes on top of abstract backgrounds, which poke fun at the pretensions of formalism. Sardonic titles like A Black Joan Jonas in “Nigga I’m a Coyote” highlight the entangled histories of primitivism and abstraction within avant-garde art, asking, in the process, who has the right to use certain kinds of language and certain kinds of history.
March 1, 2014
Artist and curator Tania Willard will deliver a talk in response to Artspeak’s current exhibition Barn Swallows.