Jamie Evrard: Painting La Dolce Vita

Jamie Evrard has spent this autumn season in her pied-à-terre near Tuscany cycling through the countryside and gathering new landscape inspiration for painting. In this candid interview, she shares a glimpse of her adventures and artistic process.

1) What have you been working on lately? 

Well, my friend Florence and I just spent eight days on a bike trip in Sud Tirol and Alto Adige Provinces up in northern Italy.  We biked along the Mincio and Adige Rivers as biking along a river is usually easier and less steep than taking a random route through the mountain.  We stopped frequently to take photos of the turquoise blue water reflecting the trees along the shore.
I’m painting landscapes and reflections. The light is so beautiful here, along with the view out my window.  I’m getting all caught up in the dreamy imaginary qualities of reflections and the impossible tangle of old-growth forests, and am especially loving painting something completely different.

2) Where in Italy are you located and how often do you go there?

My house is located in the Val di Pierle just east of Cortona in Tuscany.  This is a very humble, down to earth area where people farm corn, sunflowers, and tobacco.  People work with their hands and talk a lot about food.  My friends are carpenters and stonemasons with the odd expat thrown in.

3) What do you find most inspiring about working in Italy?

There are several things that I love about working here.  One is that life is simpler...no double shot, extra hot, double cup soy lattes, just un espresso.  A small selection of old clothes with the odd piece from the 3 Euro table at the market, a car whose hubcaps have disappeared and long days to garden and paint with nary a phone call.  My last three phone calls were from a seamstress whose kid got a hold of her phone and dialed me my mistake.  The food is beautiful—hot sweet tiny tomatoes from our neighbor’s garden and yesterday a big haul of porcini mushrooms which they shared with us.  Simplicity and emptiness can be inspiring.  Having hours strung together without distraction is the best thing about this place.  And the warm, golden quality of the light.



4) Can you tell us about your creative process?  Are there any Italian artists that have influenced your work?
I usually take care of errands and odd jobs in the morning and paint in the afternoon.  I paint in my bedroom here and move the furniture around to accommodate my easel and palette so that I can be right in front of the window overlooking the valley
Oh yeah, my “process”.  I’m painting oils on Arches oil paper which I have never liked but do now for the inexpensive freedom it gives me to try all sorts of things.  I stick up a piece and mark off a 20 by 20-inch square and choose a photo from the summer to explore.  Sometimes I finish a sketch in a couple of hours, sometimes I work on a piece for a few sessions.  Since the subject of the landscape is so new to me and the paper is too, I’m really enjoying not having a clue how to approach it.  If a day’s work has been particularly stressful, I’ll go out to the garden and move some rocks or tear up a blackberry or nettle patch.
               
5) I imagine you have visited lots of art museums, famous art sites/ cultural spots during your time there. Do you have any favorites?
I particularly love the Etruscan Museums in the area—Chiusi and Cortona to name two.  The Etruscans were such mysterious people and created with great abandon.  I can just imagine a bunch of sculptors sitting around in the studio and one of them saying, "Hey guys let’s put deer hooves on the next candelabra.” 
I also love to see anything by Piero della Francesca, a Renaissance painter whose work is timeless and deceptively simple.  His Legend of the True Cross in Arezzo, and The Pregnant Madonna, The Deposition from the Cross are nearby.  Sometimes I see someone walking down the street and think they could have just walked out of a Piero piece.  That’s how vital his figures are. I have a couple of artist friends who live around here whose work I admire but the contemporary art scene here is basically nonexistent.
 
6) What would be your dream project?
Figuring out how to turn my landscape sketches into large paintings. 

 

VIEW WORK BY JAMIE EVRARD

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Artist Residency Q&A: Kathryn Macnaughton

We interviewed the fearless Kathryn Macnaughton on her latest adventure, an artist residency in Lisbon where she has spent the last couple months exploring Portugal and pushing her creative practice through experimentation.

1) What is the name of the residency you are at and how long are you planning on being in the program for?

PADA Studios. I was there in July and August and I’ll be back there again for another month in October.

2) Describe your work in 7 words or less.

Expressive, Colourful, Bold, Graphic

 

3) What is something most people don’t know about you? 

I’m addicted to peeling dried paint. When I want to relax and meditate in the studio, I’ll peel all the paint off my containers.

 4) How did you hear about the residency?

Online/social media. I was looking for residencies with large studios. Pada is in a beautiful warehouse in an industrial park on the other side of the river from Lisbon. I also have friends that live in Lisbon so it was a no brainer.

5) What pushed you to take on an artist residency abroad and what do you hope to achieve while in this program?

I needed a change. I wanted my work to evolve and I knew that finding inspiration from another environment and meeting like-minded artists would help with that. 

I work alone in Toronto and I’m quite isolated in my studio. I wanted to see how I would work in a larger space with other artists. It was great! I think I’ve grown so much as an artist. 

6) I would love to hear about the process of creating these new works during your time at Pada studios. Has this new environment inspired new elements, textures or colors in your work?

When I arrived at the residency, I always had the intention of trying to make my own shaped canvases. It was great. I learned how to build my own stretchers with shapes protruding out of them. The idea evolved and I was very inspired by the window frames on residential and industrial buildings in Portugal. They have interesting designed grills that go over the windows, especially the ones that surrounded the industrial park in Barreiro (the town where the residency is).

I began to have ideas about making window frames for my paintings. Right now, they are solid colours that compliment the washes and the flat colours on the canvas. I’m playing around with the relationship between the frames and the background canvas. I’m finding it important to find the right balance between the two. I’d also like to gesturally paint the frames and have them compliment the flat colour of the canvas. 

7) Are you working in a shared space with other artists, and if so, how has this experience affected your artistic practice?  How are you finding it in comparison to working out of your own studio?

Yes. We work in a large warehouse together, but there are partial dividers between the studios. 

It has been an incredible experience. I love working with other artists and I think it has helped me grow. There are pros and cons. When I’m alone there are no distractions, but sometimes I need them. Having other artists around has given me space to think about my work from other perspectives.

VIEW WORK BY KATHRYN MACNAUGHTON

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In the Studio with Andre Petterson: Finding Balance In the Urban Landscape

Andre Petterson is a multi-media artist who attempts to capture the essence of a split-second in time.  Over the past year, he has been working on a new series to document his perspective of the changing landscape of Vancouver’s lower mainland.  His fascination with observing machines and factories and their integration into the urban environment was a starting point for the series.

“All cities are in a constant state of change.  The pockets of change that have taken place since I moved here in 1970 from Saskatoon draw my attention.  Neighborhoods, both residential and industrial, have gone through such flux, that sometimes is so slow that things happen that go unnoticed for a long time. Sometimes, the changes are so fast that it boggles the mind.” Through these snapshots he poses the question, how do we maintain a physical and emotional balance as inhabitants of a city that is undergoing rapid urbanization?

Human figures are introduced into some of the artworks and stand facing monolithic found objects such as cranes, high-rises, mountains of sulfur to highlight our coexistence with the built world and illustrate how we view and question our unpredictable landscape.  Through scale and placement, Peterson juxtaposes the observer with their surroundings to convey the emotional effect urbanization has on us when we stop and ‘take it all in’.

Peterson has captured this feeling in his mixed media works that depict the sulfur mounds in North Vancouver and Port Moody.  Having photographed them repeatedly over time, he has noticed their permanence, despite the encroachment of surrounding neighborhoods and infrastructure towards them. The piles remain the same while the city develops and grows around them, creating a visual contrast between past and present. 

This exploration of the tensions and constant flux within our surrounding urban landscape is re-imagined through Andre Petterson’s distinct mixed media methodology, collage and photo manipulation.  “I take photographs of things that I find or construct.  I enjoy building, painting and arranging objects into still life scenes. I then digitally alter them on the computer, layering things together and then printing multiple images which I then fix to panels. I then paint directly onto the image. Sometimes, what looks painted, is part of the photograph and sometimes, the reverse. Using mixed mediums opens up the art making process for me and eliminates restrictions.”

His upcoming show Balance will be opening at Bau-Xi Vancouver on October 19, on view until November 2nd.

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Artist Q & A: Tom Burrows

1) What is “The Curve of Time” as described in M.W. Blanchet’s book and what does it mean to you? What inspired the appropriation of this title?

The curve of time is the basis of modern physics and Buddhist teaching (if time does exist). I am agnostic.

Tom Burrows at Bau-Xi Gallery Toronto

2) Is there a passage in M.W. Blanchet’s book that inspired this exhibition or articulates the theme, concept or mood of this body of work?

Possibly the chapter where Blanchet repairs Caprice’s motor, toiling much like within my studio process. What most inspired me about the book is the exquisite quality of the writing. The underlying motive of alternative housing remains silent but is so relevant to this particular moment.

3) How is this new series informed by your travels along the coast of British Columbia? In what ways does your experience of the landscape manifest itself in your work, and does it influence your use of colour, light and your treatment of the panel surface?

I have always felt better living beside or on the North West ocean, even at the foot of Main Street. It’s probably the ever-changing light and reflections.

Tom Burrows at Bau-Xi Gallery Toronto

4) What is the significance of the compass bearings, landmarks and geographic features that compose the titles of this exhibition? How do your titles and compositions interact? Are your titles related to the visual quality or emotional memory of a given place?

The qualities of my panels arise from the exploration of material and process. Unlike most fine arts media, there is a rich spectrum of unexplored physical properties in my adopted medium. A title / story is attached to a panel only after its material completion. The title / story serves the panel as a memory device (a mnemonic), rather than the panel serving to illustrate a narrative (an illustration). Through this device (the mnemonic) the panels attempt to remain, without external reference, in a purely visual / physical realm.

Tom Burrows at Bau-Xi Gallery Toronto

5) Your works are often grouped into polyptychs, how does the production of polyptychs differ from that of singular pieces, when in your process do you determine groupings and how do you determine the ways in which they are arranged?

They are not initially conceived of as in-combination. Some things just seem to go together.

6) What was it about this body of work that inspired you to experiment with new materials and revisit old techniques?  How does this body of work interact with the concept of time? 

My role as an artist is to construct a set of parameters within which media such as pigmented polyester or glazed porcelain self-generate image, parameters akin to the climatic conditions that allow ice crystals to form snowflakes. I do try to avoid gesture. Any emotional or narrative content is imposed by the viewer anthropomorphizing the medium. The medium is the message. It glows with an inner luminance, a trace to the Chauvet Cave. (The Curve of Time)

8) What prompted your thematic return to the landscape of the Pacific Coast and how does it relate to your journey as an artist?

There is an abundance of geographic titles on the maps of the West Coast to be appropriated for my panels. Also, I’m studying sailing as a second language, calisthenics for the aging mind. It involves maps.

VIEW NEW WORK BY TOM BURROWS

 

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Artist Q&A: Sheri Bakes

Canadian artist Sheri Bakes on her newest series, Empathy for the Earth.  Bakes invites us into her creative process and gives us a glimpse of the magical setting that inspired her latest artworks.

SheriBakes_studioshot3

1. How do you place your work within the context or lineage of Canadian Art History?

When I was relearning how to paint I was looking a lot at both Impressionism and also the Group of Seven painters, including Emily Carr's work. After sitting with this work, I started to wonder what's missing. What is missing and what can I do to expand on what they were doing so I can be a contribution to the history of art. 

Over time I've thought about this a lot. In my earlier work you can see the red trees are a reference to the work of A.Y. Jackson and the handling of brushwork attempts, more and more, to draw on some of what was going on in Vincent Van Gogh's work that relates to physics, specifically on the concept of turbulent flow in fluid dynamics. 

 

2. Which artists have had the most profound influence on you and how have you diverged and developed your own unique imagery?

There are so many. I think Georges Braque and Paul Cézanne had a huge influence on my thinking and work in that they flipped point perspective onto one picture plane and created the painting for itself, as a flat surface. I've been really interested in taking that idea, along with more traditional point perspective ideas of receding space and combining them both to create a sort of "window/wall" effect combined in one painting. 

An example of this is when you look at ponds with lily pads and koi fish…the lily pads are the flat wall-like parts, and the more translucent parts that you can travel into are the areas with the koi swimming below the surface of the water. I really like the impact and combination of both of these perspectives together in one piece. 

Van Gogh has been a big influence both in his work and in his writings. His cognitive ability to abstract was incredible and I find both his words and work an endless source of inspiration. 

The Group of Seven in their focus on Canadian landscape. I love this work and I try to take this direction and marry some of these ideas with what Van Gogh, Braque and Cézanne were doing. 

Lastly, I also very often look through the work of the Leningrad School of painters as I love the loose poetic melancholy in so much of this work. 

 

3. You are well known for your pointillist technique in your paintings. Could you describe your methodology and the philosophy behind it?

 I do understand the "pointillist" connection in regards to art history, but for me it has more to do with physics. It has to do with the space between the painting and the viewer and trying to depict that space, too.  I think so often we just focus on the three points of the artist/painting/viewer triangle but I'm equally as interested in the spaces between the points. That's what the focus on wind has been about too; the atmosphere and space between.  

 

4. Is the luminous glow in your paintings an element you intentionally create and can you tell us about it?

For me light is the base or root of everything. In my spiritual practice this is where everything starts and everything comes from. It's a constant for me. The ideas and illusions between light and matter is pretty interesting to play with inside a context of "wind and weather." Matter can distort and block out the light in areas or create translucent veils, but ultimately the canvases are all painted with 15 layers of white gesso underneath and that is the light base metaphor for all of the work. Just like a prism fractures light into colours, the source of those fractures is one white light.

SheriBakes_studioshot1

5. The colours in a lot of your past works had bright and electric hues but the artworks in this show have a softer palette. What is the reason for this transition? 

Sometimes colour shifts have to do with something I want to learn in paint mixing or a feeling I want to experience more of. In this show I've wanted to explore subtly and space to create work that is more quiet but hopefully just as powerful. I suppose I wanted to create more of an awareness through more listening. 

 

6. You mentioned that your studio is located on several acres of farmland and that a lot of your paintings from your latest “Empathy for the Earth” series depict different views of it.  Can you describe this landscape and how it inspires you?

I'm currently living on 54-56 acres of farmland on Vancouver Island with highland cows and black Canadian Horses. It's a pretty dynamic atmosphere both in land and weather. There are 5-6 distinctly unique large fields plus trees and pathways from the animals and creeks that run between them. A variety of fruit trees, a lake below my studio in the winter and it empties out in the summer to create a lush field and there is a mountain range further off behind that. There really is a lot to draw from here as things change daily both in weather and in ground. I suppose for me inspiration is like light; it's a constant and not something that is separate. There will be a lot to draw from in any environment.

SheriBakes_studioshot2

7. Can you tell us about the new (bird-like) brush marks in some of these new works?

I was experimenting with a painting from my last show called Serendipity's Run where I wanted to create the feeling I experienced from watching the newly arrived Trumpeter Swans stop in along their migration path. They landed in the lake below my studio one night and I woke up to what sounded like a lot of beeping. They stayed for quite a while as they rested and foraged. Both their vocal and massive wing sounds commanded attention. In this show I wanted to recreate a similar piece in large scale, just to experience a larger version of that same feeling. 

 

8. Does music or literature play a role in your painting process? 

Yes, I think it would have to. I wanted to play music but I just didn't have the right training or confidence. My father was classically trained in violin from age seven to sixteen and then switched to guitar. He played a variety of instruments on his own and in bands up until a couple years ago. This had a very big impact on me growing up, and now I try to create music in my work…a kind of visual sound that the brain can feel but can't exactly hear. I hope to create work that can touch the brain as music does but with visual sound. 

 

9. When do you decide a painting is complete?

 For me it's the same as making dinner. Decide what you want, put it together, maybe it needs a bit more pepper or salt, or apple cider vinegar or ginger... maybe some olive oil. Your taste buds will know when it's done, or done enough to be a satisfying meal. I paint the same way as making food. 

 

10. What are you excited about painting in the next few months ahead?

Learning, growing, and being able to keep painting. 

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ARTIST Q & A: ERIC LOUIE ON CREATING A MURAL FOR FACEBOOK

Recently we chatted with Eric Louie about the mural design he completed for the lobby of Facebook’s Vancouver office.  He was one of two local artists selected for the Facebook Artist in Residence Program to create an original mural for the company’s headquarters and was given the timeline of 1 week to complete it.

1. What was your concept for the mural?

My goal was to convey a sense of life in motion. I envisioned the mural and the bustling and transient lobby space as a portal to a virtual world and wanted to transform the elevators into flood gates leading into the expansive space.

2. Did you face any challenges while creating the mural?

I found the large scale of the mural to be a challenge but the hardest part was painting with acrylic. The quick drying time of this type of paint made things difficult as I’m heavily reliant on blending techniques...I had to work fast and improvise my approach to achieve a similar effect on the wall as I do in my oil paintings. I also cut directly onto the wall’s surface using exacto blades which was tricky because of the drywall’s tendency to flake.

3. Have you worked on any murals in the past?

This was my 4th mural.  I have done a couple murals in town that year for Granville Island (Art Smash in the Forge space) and for Strathcona Brewery. The creative director for the Vancouver Mural Festival helped set up these opportunities for me which I think led to my presence online as a candidate for Facebook.  

4. Can you describe your creative process with this project?

After some brief design planning and a digital project proposal, I began painting. I have always worked from a contemplative approach where taking time to reflect and edit is important.  I’m not good at being a designer who comes up with an image and executes it to a tee, but instead like to get into the moment and see where things go unexpectedly. I thought it seemed gutsy to improvise on such a big project but I had to trust in my ability as an artist to follow through. 

“Art should always be a surprise otherwise what is the point?”

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BRATSA BONIFACHO TO EXHIBIT AT BELGRADE CITY MUSEUM

Bratsa Bonifacho's paintings will be on view at the Belgrade City Museum in Serbia for a special exhibition titled 'Hidden Messages'. The Museum houses 24 works in their permanent collection spanning several decades (1979-2015) by the Serbian-Canadian painter. The exhibition celebrates Bonifacho's artistic contributions to the cultural landscape of his place of birth.

The Opening Reception of 'Hidden Messages' takes place on Friday, September 7th at 7 pm, presented by the Ambassador of Canada to the Republic of Serbia, Her Excellency Kati Csaba.

 

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Artist Q & A: Anthony Redpath

Anthony Redpath photography, Bau-Xi Gallery, Toronto

In anticipation of his latest series DISTILLED, we sat down with West Coast artist Anthony Redpath to learn more about his practice.

Bau-Xi Gallery: Can you tell us about how your initial ideas for a piece or a series are sparked? 

Anthony Redpath: Ideas are sparked all the time, both in my mind and from visual reference. I could travel past an industrial site and see surfaces or shapes that interest me. If the subject allows a political, environmental, social, or societal comment to be made at the same time as meeting my aesthetic concerns, then it will be in contention for an artwork.

BX: Your images are so beautifully complex, and you have an incredibly technical process. Where do you start? What is your planning process? 

AR: I’ll start on an idea without delay if I feel it is a strong one. I’ll just as quickly stop working on that idea, and move on to the next if I feel it isn’t translating well into execution.

The first step is always to obtain permission to shoot in locations where the general public is not allowed. This often requires negotiations and can take many months or longer.

Next, I’ll look at visual research of similar subjects and do a lot of online research. I'll create sketches, take test shots, and roughly composite the images together, to make sure that I can get the composition that I am imagining.

For the final shoot, I have to put together all the photographic equipment I need and book assistants. 

 

BX: Your process is so meticulously planned out. Which aspects are the most methodical? The most exploratory?

AR:  The beginning stages of my process are the most exploratory; realizing the potential in an idea by visualizing it in my mind, deciding on which concepts to execute, making the first compositions, then making the first broad strokes in regards to post-production.

This is the most fun part of the process of image making - deciding on a composition, and figuring out how to make it work. 

Most of my process is highly methodical, but especially the shooting process. I am very meticulous when if comes to capturing all the visual information; I make sure I have everything needed to make the highest resolution image possible. 

 

BX: How much do you feel your process and methodology should contribute to the meaning and interpretation of your work?

AR: The extraordinary amount of detail tells stories within the overall composition. The surfaces would not exist if it were not for the century-old technology industrial sites where the images are taken, and the effect of the coastal environment over time on the surfaces. The textural breakdown of the surface is a visual metaphor for the effects of the industry on the surrounding landscape.

At the same time, the surfaces are beautiful, seducing the viewer on a strictly aesthetic level.

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Artist Q&A: Sheri Bakes


1. The title of this exhibition, ‘Open the World’ takes its name from a piece you completed earlier this year. What is the significance of the title and the particular moment that inspired it?  

The title is a bit multifaceted. Externally it relates to concerns I have regarding the state of current North American and world politics, global warming, and the overall wellness of the planet. Internally as far as humanity goes, it relates to concerns I have about the wellness of humanity.

Sometimes titles come from seemingly unrelated places. This title came as I was looking out my kitchen window at a non-functioning septic tank that sat lifted half way out of the ground. The tank had nothing to do with the content of the painting but 'Open the World' was what I heard when I looked at it and the light fell through the foliage beside that area. 

When something isn't working, I sit with it until it opens and the issue resolves itself inside its own answer. I'm not sure what the answer is for the planet, but I guess I'm at the stage of being open and sitting with it. Listening to the things that aren't functioning and the reality of the direction we are heading in on every level. 

'Open the World,' for me anyway, keeps my mind open and gives my heart hope. I think this is something we (or maybe I) really need.


2. Do you see these new paintings as unique, or a part of a series?

Conceptually, all of my work stems back to my first show which was based on Rewach (Spirit, breath or wind). The focus on this specific quality has been consistent. My interest for each show is in constantly working to improve my craft and ability to paint. The hope is to bring something new to each show. To keep paring down what it is that needs saying at that particular time. Inside the physicality of painting, maybe a few new colours I might be working with, or variations in brushstrokes. But the basis of the work, always, is spirit, breath or wind.

3. You are well-known for your treatment of light. Can you share some observations on the light quality in Vancouver Island versus Vancouver/Lower Mainland?

As I sit here typing, the air quality in my area has been rated 10+ due to the smoke from wildfires. It seems to be the same everywhere in BC at the time this was written and while a lot of the work was being made. I do think the heat, smoke and wildfires have greatly impacted my work and ability to work for this show. I believe this has impacted some change in the work as well in terms of colour mixing choices and some choices made in application.


5. You described media theorist Marshall McLuhan’s thoughts on art “as a distant early warning system”. Could you tell us a little bit about what this means to you and your thoughts on the potential of art for personal or social change? 

I really like a lot of Etienne Zack's work in terms of how it addresses instability and imminent collapse of a structure onto itself. How the networks within the paintings function as a complex maze that draw you in and make it difficult to get out before the whole thing collapses in on you. For me Etienne is a great example of an artist whose work is an early warning system. Collapse of salmon stocks. Collapse of our resident orcas (J-Pod), collapse of the glaciers, bees, all the water that Nestle is taking and selling back to us for massive profit... 

I feel gravely concerned about many of the current issues our world is facing. I also have to create a light-thread of hope through that concern. To illuminate the positive things inside those very real threats.

Somehow I have to make paintings as a physical practice of gratitude. To somehow stand for, insist upon and honour the wellness of the planet. 

Open the World opens on September 8 at Bau-Xi Vancouver

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ARTIST Q&A: BAU-XI GALLERY ARTISTS ON A DEEPER SHADE OF BLUE

It’s the subtleties of blue that entrance me - the evocative, inky blues of velvet, the delicate, thin veils of the sky, or the layered ruffles of a rumbling lake. I’ve always been drawn to water (my studio is on a lake) and the intricacies of blue are cool and contemplative to me.

 Darlene Cole

Wassily Kandinsky wrote of the colour blue in his book Concerning the Spiritual in Art: “The deeper blue becomes, the more urgently it summons man towards the infinite…” Yves Klein, expressing a like-minded sentiment, once stated "Blue is the invisible becoming visible. Blue has no dimensions, it is beyond the dimensions of which other colours partake". When called to speak on the famed pigment which bears his name, Klein would often borrow the words of French philosopher Gaston Bachelard: “First there is nothing, then there is a deep nothing, then there is a blue depth."

Blue has far surpassed the rest of the chromatic spectrum in its saturation of the collective consciousness, bleeding swathes of blue into the vernacular. The colour occupies a liminal space, both material and intangible, it is at once the hue closest to both light and dark. For the Summer Group Exhibition A Deeper Shade of Blue, on view until July 28th, Bau-Xi Gallery has invited gallery artists to participate in a dialogue engaging with the rich art and cultural history of the colour blue and to provide insights on their own personal relationship with the hue and its place in their individual practices.           

The colour blue for me has always been a symbol of eternity, of an endless sky and a timeless ocean. I have always been drawn to its beautiful calm and provocative mystery. Blue evokes so many emotions and states of experience.

- Vicky Christou

Blue is the colour of infinity. Of cloudless skies and deep calm seas. It has no dimensions. Blue is the space between breaths.”  – Vicki Smith

Recently, the colour blue has represented to me the deepest part of the lake and the things moving below the surface that you can't see.” - Mel Gausden

L’Heure Bleue - the twenty minutes or so before the sun comes up or after it goes down - is one of my favourite times of day.  The beauty of the indirect light during those brief periods is as mysterious and evocative as the colour blue itself and can make the ordinary appear extraordinary.” – Jamie Evrard

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Artist Q & A: Gordon Wiens

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your process? What materials do you use to create the rich texture in your work?

Recently I have been creating rough drawings as a starting point for some of my paintings, based on the essence of weathered objects that I have found on beaches or elsewhere. Sometimes an idea for a new painting emerges from a previous painting.

The beginning of each painting tends to be loosely based on a feeling I have in relation to an eroded object or a fragment of nature such as a rock or a withered flower. I start making marks and textures on a canvas based on a shape or colour. Throughout the process, I think about form, texture and colour and apply multiple layers of acrylic paint and various mediums to canvas. Ultimately, the painting dictates its own direction as the process of painting progresses. The layers build to create a sense of depth and dimension, leading to the final patina and structure of each painting.

2. Do you see your works as unique or as part of a series?


While there is definitely continuity in my work as it evolves over time, this series represents a new body of work.



3. Do any particular lived experiences or memories, if any, inform your work?


I don’t rely on specific experiences and memories to inform individual paintings. Cumulative memories of my experiences in nature do play a role, however, I rely more on the objects and fragments of nature that I collect and keep in my studio.

4. Upon viewing the work in ‘Nature Transformed’, one is reminded of the Japanese aesthetic principle of wabi-sabi: a worldview that centers on the acceptance of transience, impermanence and imperfection. How consciously are you thinking about this idea of wabi-sabi? Is it an artistic practice as well as a personal or spiritual practice for you, too?

Wabi-sabi values and aesthetic principles resonate strongly with me and have a significant influence on my work. I’m very conscious of these ideas when I am painting and over time I have incorporated them into my way of working and my personal aesthetic.

While this is a predominant perspective for me, I have multiple sources of inspiration and reference for my work, including the work of other abstract painters.


Inside the artist's studio with Eddie the dog

5. Which necessities do you require when making art?

For me, the basic necessities are simply a space to work in, the materials I need, and regular dedicated time.


6. Your previous body of work took some reference from hard edge abstraction with an emphasis on structured linear patterns, why the departure?


I didn’t make a conscious decision to depart from structured linear patterns, the shift flowed naturally through the process of working. My recent paintings still include structured hard-edged forms and I see this change as a transition that evolved, rather than a complete departure from earlier work.

Each of my paintings is, in a sense, an experiment and new ways of working happen both by accident and through purposeful changes to the ways that I apply paint. My current work represents new interpretations of elements of nature with forms in the initial layers that are looser and more spontaneous. I have no way of knowing how my paintings will evolve over time.

VIEW NEW WORK BY GORDON WIENS

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