Tag Archives: Brandon Chow

A Truly Terrible Beauty: On the Photographs of Edward Burtynsky

by Brandon Chow

iceland

Edward Burtynsky, Markarfljot River #1, Erosion Control, Iceland, 2012, chromogenic print, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of the Artist, © Edward Burtynsky, Courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto/Paul Kuhn Gallery, Calgary

A few years ago, a nimbler, more tender version of myself went on an adventure around the Fraser River sawmills in Richmond late one night. As I clambered up lanky metal frames for a better look at the landscape, a fascinating scene spread out before me. Large spotlights illuminated a mammoth of modern engineering, built of cranes, trucks and bulldozers. Like a people sized ant colony, everything worked in efficient mechanical step to draw large sticks out of the water and off for manufacturing. It really was a remarkable process to watch—the grandiose scale, mechanical precision and enormous volume of consumption taking place. And when do we really get a chance to look at these behind-the-scenes operations anyways? Continue reading

Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life

by Brandon Chow

grand-hotel-exhibition

Hotels aren’t often imagined in the foreground of transformative pop culture, but the Vancouver Art Gallery’s latest exhibit, Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life, paints the storied history of the hotel as the intersection for creative collaboration.   Continue reading

Abbas Akhavan’s Dark Comedy at Western Front

by Brandon Chow

AbbasAkhavan_02

Abbas Akhavan’s exhibit at the Western Front elevates us to a precariously edged twilight zone between comedy and homicide.

Two protagonists drag an awkward body through an old building, trying to dispose of it. But the corpse is actually still alive and it swings its limbs in all directions. Partway through, the killers realize that it is not actually dead, and then things become really complicated.

The introductory synopsis attached to the accompanying pamphlet is an ominous prelude to Akhavan’s grimly constructed crime scene, but does little to brace us for the experience that lies ahead. Akhavan’s early practice explores connections between violence, the home and the nation state. Building on these ideas, the artist has turned his attention to domesticated spaces, such as gardens and backyards, and placed aspects of these manicured landscapes within the gallery.
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The Studio Theatre: New Work by Damian Moppett

by Brandon Chow

Offsite: Damian Moppett

Damian Moppett’s work at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Offsite location fashions concrete space into an imagined stage, and Georgia Street’s sidewalk into front-row seating.

Large Painting and Caryatid Maquette in Studio at Night, colloquially nuanced, describes a large-scale model (maquette) of elements from a portrait of Moppett’s studio, translated into a colour kaleidoscope of Rorschach-esque metal cutouts. While a sculpture of a painting of an art studio sounds like an easy concept at which to throw hipster labels, Moppett’s use of various media in relation to one another reflects a deeper meditation on the progression of art making—something that didn’t immediately appear to me in my experience with this piece, but grew more familiar with an intimate review.

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Looking for Signs: Yellow Signal

by Brandon Chow

As Canada’s first major exposition of contemporary Chinese new media and video art, Yellow Signal: New Media in China has recently landed in Vancouver, finding refuge in a variety of galleries around the city.  The works presented reflect a mutual perception of current political circumstances surrounding Chinese artists.  Zheng Shengtian—a BC-Based artist, curator, and specialist on contemporary Chinese art—has described Yellow Signal as “a metaphor for the communal state of ambiguity in Asian countries.” He further adds that each piece invokes feelings of limitation, possibility, choice, change, confusion and self-confidence.

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LocalSocial: Design Through the Citizens’ Perspective

by Brandon Chow

On the outskirts of Chinatown, 221A’s current exhibition Tangential Vancouverism addresses design strategies for Vancouver’s ever-growing urbanism. While the topics range in complexity and scale, they remain dedicated to a clear, unifying objective: “Vancouverism 2.0 should attempt to reflect the perspective of its citizens.” In keeping with this goal, the gallery is an inviting atmosphere with in-depth didactics to support its eye-catching sculptures and models.

LocalSocial

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