‘If anyone was having trouble spotting the CAG, they sure won’t now. DISCO!’
‘If anyone was having trouble spotting the CAG, they sure won’t now. DISCO!’
Being here at the CAG during the Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Neo-Native Drawings and Other Works, I’m finding that guests and myself are wondering similar things about the show. I’ve decided to collect these questions and look into some answers to clear them up.
How do you pronounce the artist’s name?
I wasn’t entirely sure myself. But after pronouncing it, Yuke-whale-up-ton, in front of him, he didn’t seem to mind. I suppose this is right. After saying this out loud a few times I’m sure you’ll find that it’s a far less intimidating name to tackle than you would have thought initially.
What is Neo-Native art?
Neo-Native is a term that Yuxweluptun uses to describe his style of art. To say simply, his work is a hybrid of modernism and indigenous art. It’s a contemporary form of native art, a departure from traditional aboriginal styles. Yuxweluptun approaches Coast Salish art forms with contemporary issues. An example of is this is his depiction of trees and nature; it deals with the conflicts surrounding B.C.’s rainforest and the treatment or rather mistreatment of the environment. Unlike Northwest Coast traditional style, where wood carvings would be a preliminary form, Yuxweluptun uses a copper sheet to etch the image of a solitary tree. The depictions of faces of people and animals are drawn traditionally, with a strong thick eyebrow providing the base to shape the rest of the face. However, these indigenous faces, as seen in the ovoid portraits, are paired wearing a basketball t-shirt, an oxford shirt or a clerical collar. Yuxweluptun uses his work to document and promote change in contemporary indigenous history and to excell our understanding of cultural identity and presence.
Does the exhibit contain any of his paintings?
No. Yuxweluptun is most notably known for his large scale techni-coloured acrylic paintings. But this exhibit doesn’t have any those works. However, the reason I find this exhibit especially interesting is because it contains lesser known art work, drawings that extend from 1980 to 2009. This is his first ever drawing series. Most peices are made within a grayscale colour palette. These drawings were developed by him as a note to create to his paintings, so they are essentially the preliminary stages of a painting.
In response to the many people that have expressed to me their relationship to the artist:
This is definately sweet. It’s great to see his daughter’s teacher, neighbour or friend of a friend of a friend drop by. However, it doesn’t seem to really surprise me anymore when guests describe their 1st-2nd-3rd to 8th degree of separation from the artist because he seems to be an all around Vancouver kind of guy. Matter of fact, I’m certain I saw him walking down a Mount Pleasant street the other day.
These and the responses/questions/comments that I’ve gathered thus far. As soon as more come up I’ll be sure to expand on this. I do want to note that along with all the other things that I discussed earlier this exhibit and his work is especially refreshing because the iconography displayed tells an interesting story but despite its heavily charged nature the images politics are not jarring. The work is aesthetically contained.
The images themselves are quite beautiful, if at least telling.
– Nafisa Kaptownwala
The CAG staff and board would like to thank our current and alumni volunteers for their constant energy, commitment and passionate involvement that enables us to deliver our programming.
Without the incredible people behind what we do, we wouldn’t be able to grow and thrive as Vancouver’s only independent public gallery dedicated exclusively to contemporary visual art. And we certainly wouldn’t be able to offer our exhibitions and programs free of charge.
During National Volunteer Week, April 18 – 24 we would like to say an extra big thank you for the generous gift of free time and energy that we receive from our volunteers !
Here are some of you in action !!
Thank you again to all volunteers past and present, best of luck for the future and remember to stay in touch !
– Jill Henderson
Thank you also to local businesses; Starbucks, Nestor’s Market and VanCity Theatre (VIFF) for donating some goodies for our volunteers !
Before me lay five books, all of which are new additions to the CAG’s Abraham Rogatnick Resource library collection of art exhibition catalogues. All 5 books contain images of artwork and relevant writing pertaining to Danish artist Jeppe Hein. These colourful and uniquely bound catalogues were acquired by generous gift of the artist himself and his galleries. They were sent through the mail system, twisting and turning, before finding there way to a stationary position, which is great for properly absorbing all the interesting knowledge made available within them.
All five of these books are presented as bi- lingual, with the anglo- saxon language of english appearing in translation. The first one I happened to pick up, titled ‘Jeppe Hein: Take a Walk in the Forest at Sunlight’ has a picture on the front cover of what looks like a convex mirror with the reflection of some gallery- goers peering into it, with the surreal emptiness of the exhibition space in the background. As I find out by opening up the book this reflecting object is Hein’s ‘The Big Mirror Ball’ which rolls around the space of the gallery, to the presence of visitors. Conceptually the publishers Kunstverein Heilbronn, try to relate subject matter pertaining to globalization and capitalism run wild with Jeppe Hein’s formative years as an artist.
The second book judging from the cover (which you’re not supposed to do) looks the most interesting because it is bound with a reflective surface that you might find on satellites being sent up into earth’s orbit. This book which is the biggest of the five is titled ‘Jeppe Hein: Sense City’ and it contains a wide variety of his work, detailing pieces created as far back as 1997 and as recent as 2009. This one turns out to be a very interesting catalogue because not only does it give me a really good overview of Hein’s work by introducing me to works like ‘Modified Social Bench #8’ ,2005 or ‘Appearing Rooms’, 2004 but it also presents some intriguing correspondence with artist Dan Graham.
Two more of the books are smaller, hand-held type catalogues that are probably great for art exhibition travelers who prefer suitcase friendly souvenirs from their trips abroad. Both of these books titled ‘Objects in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear’ and ‘Jeppe Hein in the Espace 315, Centre Pompidou, Paris’ are exhibition catalogues that stay true to their respected exhibits of the same name. Jeppe Hein’s exhibition ‘Objects in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear’ is depicted as a show centered around the themes of reflection, as a variety of shapes and forms are used as mirrors to distort the normal surroundings and help question the relationship between the creator, the artwork and the observer. The exhibition held in the Centre Pompidou is basically about the concept as well as the form of a Labyrinth, where Jeppe Hein made tests for his ‘Invisible Labyrinth project’.
The fifth and final book I had the pleasure of reading was ‘Jeppe Hein: Until Now’ which features plenty of images of his work proceeded by several essays that relate to the artwork that is depicted. This is another great book to read if you are interested in getting to know Hein’s diverse use of shapes, forms, techniques and concepts that can only be described as inclusive to his audience’s continuously variable environment outside the gallery space. Just the names of some of his art pieces are enough to make you very intrigued, names like; ‘Moving Neon Cube’, ‘Interactive White Sphere’, ‘Continuity Reflecting Space’, ‘Sving’ and ‘Smoking Bench’.
Of course this is a severely brief overview of five very complex pieces of art literature, all by the artist Jeppe Hein. You will find the Abraham Rogatnick library, that is located upstairs in the CAG, full of books and exhibit catalogues dedicated to many artists from gallery exhibitions held all around the globe. The CAG is a unique art facility, one that is dedicated to not only the exhibition of artwork but also to the research and education that surrounds the complex subject of Contemporary Art. So if you are interested in expanding your knowledge around a certain artist or art gallery, schedule an appointment to use the vast amount of information available just upstairs from the exhibition space.
– Dan Potter
The Abraham Rogatnick Library, CAG
Photo: Aquiles Ascencion
Please call 604 681 2700 and ask for Jill Henderson if you would like to book an appointment to use the Abraham Rogatnick Resource Library, or email email@example.com.
Jeppe Hein exhibited at the CAG in Jan 2009 with the exhibition ‘Please Please Please’. www.contemporaryartgallery.ca/exhibitions
Dan Potter is a volunteer with the CAG.
Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun’s latest exhibit at the CAG titled NeoNative Drawings and Other Works is part retrospective as well as a look at more recent 2D creations. On display is a selection of artwork from a range of media such as pencil drawings water colours and finished prints created from etching as well as a beautifully displayed copper etching plate used to press ink onto paper. I was already familiar with Lawrence’s painting discipline as I have frequently viewed his work as part of various exhibits at the VAG, so I was excited to see in person how his artistic vision held up in a different format. From what I recall, his paintings showed a healthy non-conformist at work depicting Northwest Coast Native Art with bright sometimes fluorescent colours all in the attempt to tell the story of First Nations people within the realm of Contemporary Art.
In this exhibit which is for the most presents a simplified colour palette consisting primarily of the grey scale, a dialog that consists of themes relating to Canada’s natural as well as social history develops through the eyes of the artist. In the BC Binning Gallery within the CAG, trees take the dominant role as subject matter as they are depicted with almost portraiture like importance as though to suggest to the viewer that trees are in fact people too. Other selections begin to set a more ominous tone, where masked supernatural characters are seen replanting trees with their big claws whilst in the background lay the killing fields with tree stumps as far as the eye can see.
I am familiar with the linking of First Nations culture with the natural world and I feel Lawrence’s personification of this bond depicted by various characters interacting closely with the natural sphere is quite refreshing. Yuxweluptun’s approach is a lot more hard-hitting as frequently these supernatural people are shown healing the wounded elements of nature that “man” or more specifically the Canadian forestry industry has inflicted on this once pristine and innocent land. I understand that this isn’t just some form of indictment pertaining to the modern world’s misuse of its natural resources. It is also to show that Aboriginal people, who are considered by some including myself as the first environmentalists, lived a life style that consisted of a mutually beneficial relationship with our surrounding natural world.
It is interesting to think and see that Lawrence’s demonstration of the First Nation’s mentality with regards to the environment is what many people consider their chosen utopian relationship with the eco-system in the present day. Yuxweluptun’s attempts at relating such things as trees directly to the First Nation spirit of living clarifies that Native people don’t necessarily worship nature but are and have been all along aware of the fact that we are “nature”. This awareness that a tree is as much a part of you and me as it is the soil and water begins to imply throughout the exhibition that chain saws used in forestry practices are not elements of industry but murder weapons, massacring innocent and integral parts of ourselves.
Although a lot of imagery suggestive of the painful circumstances surrounding Aboriginal people’s existence is present, Lawrence’s superimposed point of view which consists of humor and a whimsical playfulness along with his marvelous mastery of illustrative techniques makes this a fun and beautiful exhibition to spend some time visiting. Overall this exhibit demonstrates Yuxweluptun’s continued artistic growth and willingness to push not only the boundaries of subject matter with relation to contemporary art in order for it to include first people’s storytelling and iconography but also the conventions of Northwest Coast artistic traditions. This is why he is at the forefront of Contemporary Native Art and one of Canada’s most dynamic and inspiring artists.
Dan Potter has been volunteering at the CAG since Oct 2009.
A short excerpt of Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun’s recent artist talk, for those of you who couldn’t be there.