Iceland and my layered landscapes
A short Q&A with Bau-Xi Gallery
about my latest exhibition:
Nature Transforms: Experiments in Layered Landscapes
1. It’s been a busy year for you so far. You recently had the honour of receiving a highly- regarded commission by the Canadian Ambassador for the Canadian Embassy in Reykjavik for Canada’s 150th Anniversary. Also, Your exhibition has just opened at Bau-Xi Vancouver (May 6-20, 2017) and you've introduced a number of new elements to your work.
How was your experience in Iceland and did it influence this new work?
It was wonderful! The people are very warm and welcoming. The presentations went well and the audience was very keen on my latest work, the abstracts and the sculptures. I had a couple days to travel around and take in their unique landscapes. That was very inspiring and many of the new pieces are influenced by the unique Icelandic landscapes. I highly recommend Iceland as a place to visit.
2. Emotional memory of place is a theme that you explore and delve deeply in throughout past and present bodies of work. How is this new series informed by your recent trip to Iceland? What was it about Iceland that inspired you to experiment with new materials?
Iceland is a place of stark contrasts with its volcanic underbelly and glacier peaks, and soaring cliffs against black sand beaches. It's a memorable place with lots of distinct experiences but I focused mostly on the glaciers. Seeing giant slabs of ice drifting towards open ocean is really beautiful but also deeply worrying. With icebergs you're seeing ice that's been frozen for eons, marked with sediment deposits from years gone by. They led me to reflect on the expansiveness of nature and time. Seeing these singular white monoliths against the dark blue water inspired me to explore the theme of water and ice - it's transformative nature, our impact on it, and also the hypnotic beauty of ice with its transparent depths and sparkling refractions of light.
In my abstracts, I use an ice-like sheet of acrylic with fractures and clear pockets, to conceal and reveal, man-made markings (ink brush work). The varying colours reflect the Nordic skies at various times of day or night.
The sculpture is a result of testing the boundaries of multiple layers of transparency. Through 24 painted sheets of acrylic, a fully 3 dimensional object is created. A stylized iceberg floats in a sea of colour. As the viewer walks around the piece, the iceberg changes from a unified image to a series of disjointed layers and back again to a unified image on the other side.
Also.. Olafur Elliason is one of my favourite artists, he's Danish/Icelandic, and a bunch of his work is in Reykjavik. Seeing it first hand was incredibly inspiring and has single handedly encouraged me to explore new methods and concepts in my work.
3. This body of work demonstrates a new direction for you with respect to experimenting with different materials. For some of the pieces in this show, you’re painting directly onto plexiglass and playing with aspects of layering and light filtering. What was the most difficult part of the artistic process while creating this new body of work?
This new work was quite rewarding in the early stages of exploration, i could see the promise of what was possible. Getting it to a finished stage was incredibly challenging. There was so much to learn about material choices and what would work together. There was a lot of going back to the drawing board and starting from scratch but slowly I figured out what kinds of elements worked together. I'm still learning from it and look forward to creating larger pieces.
4. One can’t help but observe your careful treatment of the elusive properties of cool, arctic light in Nature Transforms. What is it about light that intrigues you?
I've always been intrigued with the play of light on moving water or its refraction through objects. It has a strange hypnotic quality that enlivens my sense of awe and wonder. Sometimes It puts me into a state of meditation that connects me to a deeper sense of self and that is always followed by a deeper sense of connection to the world and people around me.
5. How would you say your work has developed in the past few years and how do you see it evolving in the future?
I've spent a lot of time depicting contemplative landscapes and trying to evoke a sense of wonder from nature. They are informed by my own experiences. I love this exploration and how it's developed so far. I hope that my work re-awakens in the viewer a similar experience that perhaps they've had.
I plan to continue on this path while incorporating the viewer into the work more directly. I want the viewer to be part of completing the concept of the work; That we are integral to and inseparable from nature.
Also, I can see how the sculptural pieces lend themselves to being larger scale site specific works. Possibly incorporated into the architectural interiors.
6. You seem to have a great interest in the physical world’s timelessness despite its state of ongoing transformation, lending to it a transcendent quality that is so distinctly your own.How have you observed the lived realities of climate change in Canada, Iceland or other places you have travelled?6b. How do you respond to the phenomenon of climate change in your work (if at all)?
The ever present concern of global warming and melting ice caps is loosely explored in this new body of work. I'm representing melting glaciers and ephemeral icebergs. The iceberg sculptures look unified from straight on but become a series of disjointed fractures depending on our position.
The abstracts have human markings (ink brushwork) trapped under Icey surfaces, visible through fractures.
The "ice floes". 1, 2 & 3 show glaciers drifting out to sea with a transparent layer of blue layered on top. The blue looks like water running down or a topographical coastline of ocean. They are about the transformation of ice.
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