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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