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.


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Artist Q & A | Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber

Lori Nix and kathleen Gerber photography, presented by Bau-Xi Gallery

Brooklyn-based photography duo Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber meticulously build three-dimensional miniature dioramas by hand, and capture the scenes using a large-format film camera. Read this Q&A session to learn more about their incredible process.

Besides moving into a small apartment, what inspired you to start creating dioramas and photographing them instead of shooting more conventional work?

Lori: We are most comfortable working with our hands. With my background in ceramics and woodwork, and Kathleen’s glass history, we are comfortable building our worlds rather than going out in search of them. Neither of us has had the financial means to travel much beyond the United States. We’ve always used our money to purchase tools and art supplies rather than plane tickets and hotel rooms. We’re happy enough to be armchair travelers, exploring the world through books, magazines, television and the internet. So instead of going out in search of worlds to photograph, we choose to build our own worlds in a much smaller scale.


How do you come up with your ideas? Do you keep a journal? What inspires you?

Lori: I’ve always taken inspiration from my surroundings. I grew up in [...] rural western Kansas. Every season brought with it a new disaster or weather phenomenon. [...] these events brought excitement to a life that by most people's standards was quite dull. I also grew up in the 1970s, when dystopian cinema had it's heyday. I remember being quite young and in the movie theater, completely scared yet excited to watch such movies as Planet of the Apes, Towering Inferno, Airport 76, Earthquake, and Logan's Run. These movies have had a not-too-subtle influence on my photography.

[Kathleen and I ] have lived in New York since 1999. Now the city has become our inspiration. I used get my ideas during the morning commute on the subway ride between Brooklyn and Manhattan. It has to be a combination of still being slightly asleep, the light that hits me when we come out of the tunnel and go over the Manhattan Bridge, and trying to maintain my sense of space while riding in a packed subway car. I kind of just drift off and let my mind wonder. I'm like a tourist in my own city, always looking up at buildings around me. The detail in the architecture is so incredible that I want to recreate it for my work. I have a stack of architecture books next to my desk that I turn to for reference when I'm not walking around the city. I don't keep a journal, but rather a list of potential subjects on my phone. Some ideas I sit on for years, others I like to start immediately. I'm completely fascinated with the apocalypse, the Anthropocene, and our reach into outer space.

Kathleen: I’m also a fan of science fiction, though I came to it later than Lori. The best of it raises questions about how the world and societies function (or don’t function). Or gives you a look at a world you’ve never imagined and it just gets the creative juices stirred up. I’ve also kept a sketchbook for years. I’m not sure it always relates directly, but it’s a valuable way for me to sort my thoughts.


Are there any art periods or styles that have influenced you? And how would you describe your own style? 

L: We are greatly influenced by landscape painting, particularly the Hudson River School of Painting which included the artists Thomas Cole, Asher Brown Durand, Frederich Edwin Church, Martin Johnson Heade, and the Romantic painter Casper David Friedrich. Each of these painters possessed characteristics of romanticism and the Sublime and it's ability to create a state of mind and express intense emotions either through beauty or horror. Eighteenth century philosophers such as Burke and Kant wrote of phenomena that could excite sublime feelings when considering natural settings, dangerous situations, the unknown, and anything else that can threaten us or our belief that we live in a friendly and predictable universe that is under our control. The Sublime as a school of thought came to full force in the eighteenth century and was illustrated by these painters' grandiose landscapes.

In our own work, Kathleen and I are interested in depicting danger and disaster, but temper this with a touch of humor. My childhood was spent in a rural part of the United States that is known more for it's natural disasters than anything else. I was born in a small town in western Kansas, and each passing season brought it's own drama, from winter snowstorms, spring floods and tornados to summer insect infestations and drought. Whereas most adults viewed these seasonal disruptions with angst, for a child it was considered euphoric. Downed trees, mud, even grass fires brought excitement to daily, mundane life. [...]  For the series "The City," I have imagined a city of our future, where something either natural or as the result of mankind, has emptied the city of it's human inhabitants. Art museums, Broadway theaters, laundromats and bars no longer function. The walls are deteriorating, the ceilings are falling in, and the structures barely stand; yet Mother Nature is slowly taking them over. These spaces are filled with flora, fauna and insects, reclaiming what was theirs before man's encroachment. I am afraid of what the future holds if we do not change our ways regarding the climate, but at the same time I am fascinated by what a changing world can bring.

 Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber, presented by Bau-Xi Gallery

Do your pieces have messages for on-lookers? Is there any modern day issues or causes that you try to raise awareness to in your work (In reference to your current work in The City) or is it just to excite the imagination?

K: We do not strictly define what has taken place in the photographs. Clearly, we have a general theme - something catastrophic has happened, mankind is gone, all that is left are empty buildings and abandoned landscapes - but the details as to what actually occurred are purposely left fuzzy. That allows the viewer to bring in their own ideas (or fears) as to what happened. The fact that it is an image of a model and not a real place, can make it easier for viewers to place themselves into the scene and imagine what may have led up to this point.


Your work is labor intensive. Talk me through the creative process and techniques that go into making one of your projects.

K: Because we have been working together for 18+ year now, we each have different roles in the creation of the work. Lori is the architect and I am the sculptor. Lori is responsible for hard surfaces such as walls, floors, furniture, buildings etc. I take care of the detail items such as paint finishes, small props, and generally distress everything. If it takes patience, I’m going to do it. If it involves a ruler and a table saw, then it falls to Lori. In “Anatomy Classroom” I sculpted the anatomy models and skulls out of polymer clay. I created all the specimen jars, the posters and the overhead projector. Lori built the cabinets, chairs, laid in the floors and put up the walls. I then distressed and partially destroyed the scene, readying it for the camera. When my part is done, Lori sets up the camera, lights, the background scenery and begins the process of capturing the final image.

A diorama can take anywhere from three to seven months, but a few have taken as long as fifteen months. We work on two and three at a time. Most of the fabrication takes place in our apartment because that where all the power tools, spray booth, paints and supplies are located. When the work is close to being finished, we pack up the parts and pieces of the diorama and transfer it to our outside studio where there’s more space and where we keep the lighting equipment. When we install the scene out here, it’s usually the first time we see it as a whole. And when we see it all together, there’s usually something amiss and we need to add more detail or more background to a scene.


What advice would you give a young artist that is just starting out?

L: I took the long path to get to where I am today. I started applying to juried shows, then to non-profit shows. I also applied for programs such as the Artist in the Marketplace through the Bronx Museum of Arts, another artist network. As I built up my resume and got a little press recognition, I started to approach commercial galleries. As I had more shows, my work began to spread. It's very important to have a good website. I can't stress this enough.

Good projects take time to develop. Do not be in a great hurry to start and finish a body of work.

Be sure to have a day job. Surviving on art work alone is a rare feat.

Your friends are your greatest source of information sharing. They are the ones who will help out your career the most with gallery connections, inclusions into exhibitions, and spreading your name around to their friends. I am indebted to a lot of my friends for getting my career to where it is today.


Visit Bau-Xi Photo at 350 Dundas Street West to see Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber's solo exhibition, The Empire, The City. Click here to read about this show, which has been selected as a Featured Exhibition for the annual Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.


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Artist Q&A: Joshua Jensen-Nagle

For the month of May, Bau-Xi Vancouver is pleased to present an exhibition of Canadian photographer Joshua Jensen-Nagle's acclaimed series Endless Summer. We recently asked the artist about how this ongoing body of work has evolved and what his process looks like behind-the-scenes.

1) This body of work prominently features beach scenes, what inspires your continued exploration of this recurring motif, what qualities do you seek when scouting your next location and what distinguishes the destinations you’ve photographed from one another?

The beach work is inspired from my childhood.  I would spend summers at my grandfather's beach house in Mantoloking, New Jersey and have fond memories jumping waves, surfing with my father and basking in the sun.  Those memories have been the driving force behind the work.   

I try and find interesting locations with dramatic elements.  Every location has its own distinct look and feel.  Whether it's the colour of umbrellas, water and sand, every beach seems to carry its own personality.  If there a reef in the water, or it's a rock versus sand.  All these elements bring together a unique composition.


2) Your practice has evolved through a gradual elevation of the lens, from high-angle shots to bird’s-eye view, what prompted these shifts in perspective and how does your approach and relation to subject matter and composition change as you photograph from varying proximity and new vantage points?

I’ve been photographing beaches for nearly twenty years and I was trying to find a new perspective of the subject which led me to aerial work.  I had found myself climbing cliffs with all of my gear, more often, and now working from a helicopter, my approach has changed drastically.  I have a very limited amount of time to get the image, so I coordinate with the pilot on altitude, speed, distance and maneuvers, which makes everything more challenging. 

3) How has technological advancement in digital photography affected your practice over time? Is this rapid change difficult or challenging to keep up with? What about the potential of this medium do you find exciting or daunting?

Technology has allowed me to transition into shooting aerial work.  It is a challenge, but I waited a while until the technology was more advanced and precise.  It’s exciting because of the possibilities it possesses and it is daunting because it is very expensive.  In my early years, I travelled with a few SX-70 Polaroid cameras and a bunch of film in my backpack.  Now, I have multiple high-end digital cameras, lenses, a gyroscope and a 14ft tripod for the locations I can't source a helicopter in.  Customs takes longer travelling internationally with all of this equipment.

4) Having practiced in the field of contemporary photography for many years now, what continues to be the most challenging aspect of the artistic process for you and what surprises you most when you’re shooting?

The most challenging aspect is the travel. From the outside, it looks fantastic, but when you are doing it for work and lugging a ton of gear in and out of countries with different customs requirements, it is very challenging and often stressful.   Flying across the world to photograph is a gamble when you're not sure the weather will cooperate or if the location is what you expected. You never know what you are going to get until you arrive and that can be frustrating.

5) Besides photography, what else do you get up to on your travels?

When I’m shooting the winter work I get to snowboard which is nice but I’m riding with gear looking for something to photograph. When shooting the beaches I try and get a swim in at the end of the day but I’m usually on the move a lot. My wife travels with me on a lot of shoots, and we get to enjoy some of the local restaurants after long days, or find some fun spots in between driving from beach to beach each day. In Hawaii, we spotted a 5 mile long sandbar in the middle of the ocean from the helicopter.  I shot it, and the next day weather didn't allow for us to get back up to shoot more work. So instead, we drove around the island, found a park with some kayaks for rent, and kayaked out to the sandbar at low-tide. It's moments like this, that makes it all worth it.  Seeing this sandbar from both perspectives was a highlight of mine for that trip.



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Artist Q & A: Andre Petterson

1) How was this body of work conceived?

I’ve been taking pictures like these for years. I’m intrigued by product brands and how their placement has evolved as they subconsciously impact our lives. Branding has become more and more globally blended. Every large city I visit seems to be blanketed with names - once unique, now commonplace, regardless of language or culture.

I’m sure I have boxes of negatives somewhere that could be used in this series. Branding is not new but my recent focus on it is.

2) What surprised you most about the process of photographing this brand image phenomenon all over the world?

I didn’t expect to see a man under an umbrella selling candy bars and soft drinks on the Great Wall of China or a girl on a remote island, accessible only by boat, selling melons and wearing a Dolce and Gabana T-shirt. It’s not so much a surprise to see brands in every society, but it’s always a surprise to see how they appear.

3) Travel is essential to your process. What do you get from traveling that you don't get while you're home in Vancouver?

I get a head full of images, sounds, smells that I don’t get at home. I travel when I know it will be warm wherever I go - life on the street, markets, crowds.  I hear other languages being spoken, I get lost on purpose to feel a sense of vulnerability.

4) What roles do ambiguity and humour play in your practice?

I like feeling vulnerable. I like serendipity. People are almost always nice to me and are very accommodating when I take their picture. Humour comes when there is irony. I look for irony.

 5) 'brand' is your first Bau-Xi exhibition featuring purely photographic works (archival inkjet prints) with predominantly documentary/street subject matter. What is it about this mode of documentary street photography that excites you?

I like the immediacy. I like the quick shot, the “screen grab” feel of walking the streets and seeing a gem and capturing it. Sometimes it’s perfect. When the light is right and I can hold the camera steady, it’s a bonus.

6) What is the historical and cultural significance of ‘Kill Your Idols’? Why did this particular moment in time and space draw you in?

I don’t remember seeing the face of the man in the picture. I was drawn by the back of his shirt which read “Kill Your Idols”. At first I read “Kill Your Dolls”. Later after I researched it, I discovered that Kill Your Idols was a 90s punk band from New York.

What made the photo meaningful was that where the man was standing, on a street in Kigali, Rwanda, was once a street that had been ravaged by genocide. The street is now a peaceful place where people co-exist, doing business in their shops and restaurants. It was all quite surreal. On the walls of buildings were hand-painted signs advertising Samsung and other known brands.

7) Is there another piece in the show that has an interesting or strange backstory?

Every piece in this show has a story, not so much a backstory. I look for irony. The piece titled LG is titled so because LG means large. In this case, a size large t-shirt with the face of Che Guevera boldly printed on the front. Che has become an icon, a larger-than-life figure, and now a brand. More interesting to me was that the t-shirt was on display in a high-end clothing store and priced at $830, with the price tag prominently displayed on the face of the shirt.

8) What is the most challenging part of the artistic process for you?

I’m too curious to stay with one subject. I do come back to things I’ve shelved, sometimes with a new approach.

I’m always striving for growth and change. I don’t like the feeling of being stagnant. I’m not one to say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  I believe that if you don’t push the envelope, it just sits on the desk. It’s a challenge to not get redundant.

9) How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?

I’ve been mounting exhibitions since 1974. I began with making sculpture and assemblages. I began to embrace two dimensional work in the 80s. Photography was always of interest to me. I liked the process of adding photos to paintings, then the reverse. I began painting directly onto photos. My subject matter has changed many times over the years. The process has been fairly consistent. Recently I began to paint directly onto images that I would then photograph to be applied to a surface. I would then as before, paint onto that photograph. One more step in the process. I liked where that was heading.

The future, who knows? Every time I try to answer that, I’m surprised at the outcome. Hopefully, all that has passed will help the process.


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Joshua Jensen-Nagle | Artist Q & A



Bau-Xi Gallery is excited to present Dreams and Journeys, a new series by acclaimed photographer, Joshua Jensen-Nagle. We sat down with the artist to ask him about his latest series and learn about his ever-evolving process.

Bau-Xi Gallery: Ten years later, you are returning to photograph sites from your first architectural series. Tell us about your interest in revisiting these locations.

Joshua Jensen-Nagle: My work has evolved over the years. I wanted to bring a new life to the subject and add a fresh look and feel to the work. Originally, I photographed most of these locations in SX-70 Polaroid. The imagery was soft, blurry--all veiled by a dream-like haze. In revisiting the sites, I used the latest in digital cameras and have created crisp imagery, so that the viewer is able to walk right into the photographs as if they were there themselves. 

BX: Past European images were “smokey” in their finish, as though we viewed the scenes through a fog—what has changed about your interpretation of these places that demands this new, “sharper” image?

JJN: In revisiting my early polaroid series, which evoked a distinctly nostalgic feeling, I wanted to approach this new body of work with a more modern perspective, to parallel working with a digital format camera. Everything is brighter, crisper and fresher. I intentionally over exposed most of the images to give a euphoric feel.

BX: What are the conditions of your ideal shots? 

JJN: The ideal condition for these shoots are midday, when the shadows are minimal. 

BX: This series features iconic sites of worship such as the Pantheon, the Western Wall and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. What do you find inspiring about these sites?

JJN: Each and every site has its own history and attracts people for different reasons. Whether it be to pray, to marvel at its architecture, or even its existence. The human interaction is what interests and inspires me to photograph these sites. 

BX: Which aspects of your practice do you feel have evolved the most noticeably over the last 10 years?

JJN: I would say almost every aspect has evolved in the work that I make today. For me, the most noticeable shift is that I used to be able to travel with a backpack, carrying a few Polaroid cameras and film. I could walk around easily, taking photographs in any location at my own will. Now I have a 14ft tripod, and heavy digital camera gear. I need to secure permits for each location, months in advance. The whole production has become much more intricate. 

Dreams and Journeys will be on view at Bau-Xi Photo (350 Dundas St West, Toronto) from April 14-28. Join us to celebrate the opening of the exhibition on Saturday, April 14 form 2-4pm. 





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Q & A with Katrin Korfmann

Read Peggy Roalf's Q&A session with photographer Katrin Korfmann, where she discusses the process behind her most recent series, Back Stages

Peggy Roalf, for AI-AP's 'DART' 

March 7, 2018


Peggy Roalf: What is there about the aerial perspective that works for you in creating these super-dense images of people at ordinary activities? 

Katrin Korfmann: Using a bird’s-eye view, I can exclude the surroundings and all architecture so you have no reference to the location but can focus on the people and the event. In addition it creates a suggestion of distance and closeness at the same time. By simultaneously zooming in and out, I want to depict mysterious realities, which neither the eye, nor my camera could have grasped.

PR: The unusually grid-like backgrounds are one of the things that make these images so mesmerizing. How do you do your location scouting?

KK: I do a lot of research online, and often I am in contact with an assistant at the spot who is investigating the location and conditions. But it also happens that I just see a spot that is fascinating that I want to capture.

GLASS, ANXI, by Katrin Korfmann GLASS, ANXI

PR: Do you have the ability to perceive a place you’re seeing for the first time, at ground level, as it would be when seen from above? Do you carry a small camera drone around for quick previews?

KK: I have been shooting from this perspective for years, so yes, I am constantly scanning the ground of locations or look for high vantage points in order to see the place from another perspective. However I am not using a drone—that would make to much noise, and disturb the people from their activities, and then everyone would look up! I prefer to be a silent observer, so I use a high tripod, a crane, or a remote-controlled helicam.

PR: Are most of your photographs based on found activity—or do you sometimes orchestrate the action, with costuming and props, for example?

KK: Yes, sometimes, and it varies from asking pedestrians to walk through the image in a certain way to fully staging images with a dance company or a school class.

PR: Do you choose locations and activities to align with some specific ideas about human activity—or are you looking for something universal about human behavior?

KK: I usually work in series. Count for Nothing was focusing on street life in different cities. For Ensembles assembled, I photographed collective rituals in various places around the world: events sustained by individual euphoria in which colour—or colourful garments—dissolves individuality. For the new project Back Stages (in collaboration with Jens Pfeifer) we are presenting a visual manifest of the artistic and cultural creation process by emphasizing values placed on the production and handling of artistic goods. 


PR: In post-production, do you edit from the gut or do you sometimes find a theme that requires a different approach?

KK: Good question. The editing is the creative part that is most intuitive. I start with a lot of sketches, and different approaches, until I feel that the image is ready. This is subjective of course and often a certain theme naturally finds it's own visual language.

PR: What place would you most like to photograph that so far has been out of reach, and why?

KK: Pictures of people in space! I imagine the perspective out there would be unexpectedly challenging—and what it might look like as a photograph?

MARBLE, CARRARA, by Katrin Korfmann


Click here to read the full article 




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Artist Q & A: Jamie Evrard

1) Your practice is primarily focused on floral painting, what about this subject matter, if anything, draws you to it and continues to inspire abstraction and formal experimentation?

Their variety of shape and colour, fragility and emphemerality.

2) What prompted the introduction of negative space and white ground in your paintings? How does it inform your work and what is its significance?

My brushwork tends to be impulsive and full of energy and which can lead to overcrowded paintings with nowhere for the eye to rest so space can be a place for the viewer to rest and to exercise one's own imagination. I love to look at Chinese landscape paintings where brush marks often hang suspended in white. A slightly under painted piece can be better than one which has been finished off".

3) Could you enlighten us about how your compositions start, how many iterations they go through before they’re considered ‘finished’ (i.e. flipping the canvas, erasing, painting over, overpainting etc.)?

My compositions start in all kinds of ways, I don’t have a set method. Some paintings, the lucky ones, come right away and are finished in a couple of sessions. But this is rare. Often I paint right over a previous painting which is kind of like some sort of seeking revenge. A painting I’m not satisfied with will sit in my studio until I feel sufficiently removed from it to attack it again, often upside down which is especially freeing. Destruction, which is both satisfying and frightening, can play as big a part in a painting as creation. Many paintings never see the light of day.

4) Over the course of your career, you’ve transitioned from painting from still life arrangements to painting from photographs, how do you find these two approaches differ?

When I work from photos I don’t have to hurry up and get the thing done before the petals fall off and I have all the time I want I can take more liberties with the composition. The one step remove that a photo gives means I can better see the shapes and colours as an abstraction. I can also meld subject matter from several photos into one canvas.

5) Along the lines of the previous question: you often paint multiple paintings from the same photograph, could you describe how each piece and the experience of painting each piece is related or distinct from one another?

Each time I paint another piece from the same photo I need to find something new in it and to explore the possibilities for abstraction more and more. Since I am seldom if ever perfectly satisfied with a painting I often want to have another go. Riffing off the same subject again and again and getting to know its possibilities better is satisfying.

6) What kind of material properties have you observed through the act of painting? How does your handling of paint or your perception of form change as you paint? 

Material properties…..hmmm. Gravity and drips, gloopiness, butteriness?  A comforting smell.  The more I paint the more I am possessed by the qualities of the paint.  

7) This new work demonstrates some new palettes for you—are there particular pigments   or contrasts that are exciting you these days?

The Unforeseeable Fuschia which I always thought was a cheap trick.  I love the aubergine colour that the shrieky pthalo green can create with Alizarin Crimson. 

8) How would you say your work has developed in the past ten years and how do you see it evolving in the future?

The gesture is getting more and more important in the work and I seem to be getting up closer and closer to the flowers. Also I like to paint bigger and bigger. Like most artists I have no clue as to where I am going. Painting is a leap into the unknown.




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Artist Q & A: Vicky Christou


1) What intangible or immaterial moments are you most interested in representing through your work?

I am interested in painting a visual and materially formed record of time. This record of time is created by way of a visual methodology of paint application and reactive decision making. 

Meditation and contemplation are part of my toolkit. I seek to evoke an internal state where a passage of time is experienced, and physically recorded by a calendar of sorts - the grid created by painted layered impasto lines. 

I like the analogy of duplicity and what it reveals: what we first see and know, and what light and shade reveal to us from different vantage points and at different times.  I find that transitory passage inspiring and poetic, like watching the day`s light fade into evening.  Those are the moments that I want to integrate into my work.



2) What kind of material properties have you observed through the act of painting? How does colour or your perception of colour change as you apply paint layer upon layer? 

The invisible painting layer is the shadow cast by light reflecting off the depth and accumulation of paint.  This is often more apparent in the white grid paintings but the coloured grids also have a directional quality and optical play between the colored impasto lines which have a similar intent.

Within the White Shade grids, the relationship between the form and shadow is depicted in a subtle way.  There is often two works in simultaneous production, one at times invisible. 

3) Your work uncovers the fundamental properties of paint and is often read as drawing, painting and sculpture all in one. Do you see it this way? Do you consider it more like one than the other(s)?

This current body of work has become bas-relief sculptures made by accumulated lines drawn with paint.  Paint, and its properties as a medium, historical references and traditions from different cultures inspire me as do handiwork and textiles. I consider myself a painter who is exploring the visual vocabulary of painting within in a personal experiential framework.

4) Your work appears to be very process-driven. Could you lend a little insight into your process? How does chance play a role in your work, if at all?

The grid for me is a point of departure.  I like its simplicity and perfection when I begin, but it`s the curious imperfection of my mark-making that moves me forward.  Each painting is, although often only subtly different, solved by a visual and emotive reaction unique to each piece.

5) You have spoken of the many skilled artisans in your life, most of whom are women who have worked in textile (knitting, weaving, sewing, embroidering) who have inspired you and your work through the years. What role does craft, and/or these women play in your work?

Generations of women in my family have been skilled in these traditions.  Often out of necessity, they sewed and wove their cloths and linens.

There's always been a skilled beauty to their designs which I've long admired. At first I did not even notice how it was influencing me and my work.  I was always consciously making and seeing patterns in nature and in architecture.  I think the dedication and pride of their skilled production was imprinted on me at a young age.

I have never acknowledged the elitist distinction between so-called “women’s work” and high art. Content and intention of the craft form is what makes it art. I like how both traditions have a voice in my work and together create an equilibrium – I appreciate them both.

6) Looking at your work, one is reminded of the minimalist artist Agnes Martin whose work also had a lot to do with line and repetition. Your work, like Martin’s, demands intimate viewing and quiet contemplation. Martin has remarked about her work: “My paintings are about merging, about formlessness ... A world without objects, without interruption.”  Does this statement resonate with you? If so, how?

Agnes Martin’s work resonates with me in the same way Mondrian does.  When you see how both artists have abstracted reality down to an elemental purity such as line, it’s really quite incredible.  Finding the inner bones, the essence of an object was both their intent and their spiritual experience.  I have a lot to learn from these artists as they continue to inspire me.


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Artist Q & A: Mel Gausden

1) Could you lend some insight into the tongue-in-cheek title of your exhibition 'Girls Gone Wild'?

With this body of work, I found I had the chance to really show my own experience. I'm out in nature doing all the same wilderness activities that are still thought of as a male pursuit. All the female figures in my work are participating in their surroundings, they don't stand outside of them. They’re not merely passive still-life objects like in other landscape paintings, they're building fires, climbing fences, hiking, paddling, etc. 

2) How long have you been developing this body of work?

I think this body of work has been coming together for a while. I've always been interested in landscape and the history of Canadian painting. To gather my research and find inspiration, I trek into the woods during the summer on backcountry adventures, lugging canoes through swamps crawling with leeches, collecting and chopping wood for campfires and fighting off blackflies, horseflies and every other type of biting critter out there; because of this I've always felt a little at odds with the traditions of landscape painting. It's dominated by male painters and often women are still used as part of the scenery.



3) From which artistic sources do you find inspiration?

Social media platforms, especially Instagram have influenced my work through their set colour schemes and filters. I also find myself often drawing colour inspiration from current fashion trends. I think that love of colour is the biggest factor in every painting that I do. I tend to get obsessive about colour. My canoe is this really lovely shade of soft robins-egg blue and I've used that shade for the under-paintings in at least half of this body of work. Emerald green also really got under my skin over the past couple months and came out in a lot of these paintings.

I think Kim Dorland’s work has brought new life to landscape and brought it into the contemporary art realm. He's a major source of inspiration along with Peter Doig (perhaps my favourite artist of all), Wanda Koop. I find Christopher Pratt’s use of physical space as its own subject really interesting. I also think that Thrush Holmes neon lines may be subconsciously influencing elements of my work. 

4) How long does it take to complete a painting from conception to final execution?

My process tends to be a fairly long one. I work from photos most often, but what most people don't know is that I rarely use photos that aren't at least a year or two old. Any photos I take from research trips or vacations, I will put away. I will usually forget about them, and wait until those photos aren't photos to me anymore, but instead they've become reminders of specific memories. I need to have an emotional response to an image to make it interesting enough for me to paint. It normally takes a year or two for that to happen. I remember a moment or a feeling that held significance for me and then I go back through my files to try and find the photo that matches that moment. 

After I've decided on an idea, I do a couple sketches in watercolour/pastel/ink/pencil before reverse-engineering that composition with oil paint. In watercolour I work from lightest to darkest, and in oil paint I work from darkest to lightest. This process gives me enough space from the representational image to enjoy the more meditative and intuitive aspects of painting. 

5) Your paintings appear to be highly pre-planned. What kind of techniques are you experimenting with?

In terms of technique, I've been really enjoying the physicality of pushing paint around on canvas and working with oil paint in all sorts of different forms. From working with it almost like watercolour and diluting it to let it drip and mix and flow to sculpting the paint up in different areas to drawing with it on the canvas; mark-making has become a huge part of my process.  

6) Tell us something we wouldn’t guess from your work.

I often add in little objects, almost like Easter eggs. I think that people miss these, so it's always worth taking a second look just in case. There’s a little portage sign in the distance in Forest Through the Trees, and a couple of crushed empty beer cans in Rainy Daze and Delays. The cans are actually a representation of my favourite beer, Wellington SPA from my hometown of Guelph.


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Strangely Haunting Photos of a Once-Royal Pastime

Elliott Wilcox, Rackets 03, Chromogenic Print Mounted to Archival Substrate


Here we take a look back at Leah Sandals' Q&A with Bau-Xi artist Elliott Wilcox, which sheds light on the inspiration behind Wilcox's award winning series Courts.


Leah Sandals, National Post

Friday, Jan. 28, 2011

If art was a sport, Elliott Wilcox might be seen as a future Grand Slam contender. In the past two years, the young U.K. photographer has won multiple international prizes for his strangely haunting series of work on racquet-sports courts. Now, with his first Canadian solo exhibition on in Toronto, Wilcox rallies with Leah Sandals about squash, space and Saatchi's art-reality TV show.

Q. I grew up in a squash-playing family, so these photos have nostalgic value for me. What drew you to this topic?

A. When I first started, I wanted to look into something that hasn't been looked into in photography so much--the idea of leisure. A lot of photography in England has looked at work. But I was interested in what people wanted to do in their own time, at their most
comfortable. So I started looking at spaces of leisure, from football grounds to cinemas. Through that I got into squash courts and real tennis courts.

Q. The marks left on the walls of these courts are fascinating, almost like drawings, aren't they?

A. They look amazing. I love the fact that it's history on the wall itself--the history of the game and of the people who have played. There's a great sense of time on the walls. One of the real tennis courts I photographed in the south of England was made in the 1700s with a special pigment. It creates a really painterly effect. What I'm fascinated by even more is the large space of these courts. It can be very overwhelming, especially when there's nothing else going on. When there's people there playing, it's about the sport. But when you're a spectator only of the space it becomes something completely different. A lot of these clubs are also prestigious. Queen's Club in Notting Hill is where lots of people play before Wimbledon. When I photographed their rackets court they'd just had it painted, and the members were upset because they thought the paint would make it play differently. That fascinated me, because you wouldn't think paint would make a difference. But if you've been there so long, maybe it does.

Q. Most North Americans aren't familiar with real tennis or rackets. What are these games?

A. Real tennis is the original version of tennis. Originally, it was played in a courtyard--a court --with sloped walls. The crowns on the walls relate to scoring. And there's other royal connections, too--many of these courts go back to the 1400s and are in palaces. Henry
VIII was a famous real tennis player. I went to photograph his court at Hampton Palace and actually had to pay to book a 6 a.m. Monday morning slot, because it's so busy. Rackets is the predecessor of squash, and squash was I believe invented for the poorer
man who couldn't get a rackets court. Picture a squash court and times that by four. They're often painted black, which is nice; it makes your eyes want to look around. It's a really fast and strong game, like firing a snooker ball around the room. I've heard it's
really dangerous as well.

Q. Do you find it difficult to play now that you're so focused on photographing courts?

A. I still play squash once a month. It hasn't stopped me. But it has made me think more. When I first started the project, I'd go to play and say, "I wish I'd brought my camera."

Q. In terms of treating art as a sport--you were a contestant on the BBC reality show School of Saatchi. What are the pros and cons of doing art that way?

A. I'm not that big a fan of reality TV. But the benefit was having the opportunity to work with big names like Tracey Emin and get some good feedback. I also met a lot of friends through that show. It's good in one thing and bad in another, but overall it was a good

Q. Does art perhaps contain a mix of discipline and pleasure that's similar to sport?

A. I believe that. This project is not quite an addiction for me, but I'm fascinated by these courts. It's been a whole process of meeting people, of research, of getting access to photograph. I also have a new series on another kind of constructed space --indoor climbing walls. I'm intrigued by what we bring indoors--we bring cinema indoors with home entertainment, say...when maybe it'd be better to get out and experience things.

Click here to view the collection

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Artist Q & A : Sylvia Tait

1) The Bau-Xi Gallery feels a great sense of pride and gratitude in having the privilege of representing your work for forty years. 
Are there any touchstones in your practice or philosophy that have remained a constant theme or preoccupation over this period of time ?

Because the camera can reproduce almost any subject, place or incident in exquisite detail, it leaves the painter free to invent and insinuate oneself into a world of one’s own. This is both an advantage and a problem. People still insist the artist should try to become the camera. The inventor-painter can open other aspects of reality. That is challenging and one has to newly invent the world each time when starting a new work.


2) Double Entendres is an intriguing and heavily weighted title for your solo exhibition. Please explain the genesis behind it. 

Double Entendres have different interpretations or meanings which allow for poetics and insights, plus in this particular situation, my two exhibitions ( at Bau-Xi Vancouver and my retrospective at the Burnaby Art Gallery ) are running simultaneously but with different approaches and media and time sequences.


3) One immediately equates the word COLOUR in bold letters to your work in general. What role does colour play in your work ? 


Colour: That is hard because colour use is such a personal expression, possibly even cultural with those choices of values that become recognizable in place and context.

Emotions and deep or fragile feelings can be remembered through colour as well as the other prime senses. A coloured stroke put beside another hue or tone evokes a dialogue of its own for me.

Colour is love. 


4) The sense of sound is often strongly evoked in many of your titles such as Arpeggios, Diminuendo, Mumbo Jumbo, Clashes and Bangs, Sun Song with either their musical references, use of sound poetry, or references to human speech or sounds from the natural world.
How does music or sound inform or inspire your work ? Do you have any favourite composers or musicians or genres of music or a radio program or station that you often listen to while you paint or do you paint in silence ?

Music and soundscape is vital to me. In a time of great grief and trauma, I feel it was music that saved me from total despair. The abstract language of music speaks to the visual artist in the same way. The approach to the form and vitality of expression and feeling is similar. There is enormous happiness, excitement and humility in recognizing that unique understanding that is humanity at its best. 

I am from another era in today’s mass media hype. Classical music in most of its forms as well as contemporary composers and performers keep my CDs flourishing as well as the CBC ( when it behaves itself.)

Today I prefer chamber music, more intimate noting, although opera excites and thrills me with the marvellous voices that flourish today all over the world. The combination of theatre, sound and drama can’t be beat !

5) Another consistent theme in your titles seem to be about the journey or the transcending of boundaries or the reference to this particular place or geography that you call home for example: Coming from Away, Out of Bounds, Crossing-Ways, Pathways and Partings , Vancouver Sound-scape , West Coast Suite . 

Titles are a way of adding poetry, linking the message/subject and giving some insight to the art, with the necessity for naming. Often it can be more difficult than painting . 

The “Journey“ is a metaphor for a traveler in time and idea space. Every experience brings new questions and revelations not always digested at the same time , so pathways just lead the way as boundaries eventually get fragmented and blown away.

6) Please explain the difference and/or similarity between painting on paper and painting on canvas in your works as you typically include both media in your solo exhibitions.

Painting on canvas or wood or paper is quite different. Each surface has different qualities and different pigments seem to require special techniques. I love the sensuality and depth of colour of painting with oils for the canvases, but the racy fast drying acrylics work best for me on paper.

7) Congratulations on your upcoming solo retrospective at the Burnaby Art Gallery opening Nov 16th, 2017. What can we look forward to there that would be different from this upcoming exhibition at Bau-Xi Vancouver ?

A few years ago art critic, writer, and art historian Robin Laurence suggested a “look back” for a possible retrospective of my work. So I revisited old drawings and paintings from the very beginning. Things stored away not seen for years brought back new feelings that I could enlarge upon and add new vigour to my palette and confidence. The retrospective that the Burnaby Art Gallery has most generously offered to mount will consist of multiple paperworks done almost from the beginning of my Art Journey up to the present day.  I understand there will be a published catalogue as well.  

The upcoming Vancouver Bau-Xi exhibition consists primarily of new works on canvas as well as some new large mixed media paperworks. I am grateful for the tenderness and generosity of both galleries and curators.

8) And do you have any advice for young artists just beginning their artistic journey ?

Words for young artists …. .. keep the passion alive and trust your instincts.


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Artist Q & A : Barbara Cole

In anticipation of her most recent series, Figure Painting, we sat down with Toronto artist Barbara Cole to learn about her process, methods and inspiration behind her most minimal work to date.  

Barbara Cole, Figure Painting, presented by Bau-Xi Gallery

1) “Figure Painting” is a remarkable title for a series of photographs. What inspired this title?

I have been known to have five, six or even more "working titles" to my shows. This has the effect of driving people crazy – especially my studio assistants. It’s very unusual for me to find a title at the outset that sticks but this one did. Figure Painting embodies the correlation between drawing with the camera in water and messing around with finger paints as a child. It was a fun play on words that sums up my approach to photography.


2) What was the most challenging aspect of creating this particular series?

Working with these talented performers is always quite challenging. Not only do they need to work under the water in a graceful way, but they need to learn how to breath for balance, keep their eyes relaxed and open, straighten their wardrobe and hair, and brush any stray bubbles off their faces and bodies. With Figure Painting they were stripped down, quite literately. Their body was their wardrobe so on top of everything they had to find poses that would cover certain parts of their anatomy.  

Technically there are always challenges because every idea requires a new approach. I think you just have to believe that anything is possible and then get your crew on side to see your vision and help with its execution.

3) This series has an unusual back story - it turned out quite differently than you had originally conceived. Can you tell us about the original concept, and how it transitioned?

It was amazing how this show came about. I had worked up big plans for another body of work called WHIRL, based loosely on the idea of a Whirling Dirvish. As is often the case, things underwater work differently. Within moments of the first day of shooting I knew I would have to think of something else. As I looked around my pool-side studio at my crew, and feeling no small amount of pressure, I pulled the Figure Painting concept out of my back pocket…which is to say virtually out of thin air. I didn’t know I had a backup idea until that moment, but I suppose all of us artists do.

4) There is a historical tradition of painters referencing photography, and vice-versa. Are there any artists whose transcendence of the boundary between the two mediums you find inspiring?

The moment I saw the work of French photographer Sarah Moon I recognized how powerful photography could be. Nobody else’s work has ever touched me the same way since. The evocative nature of her imagery still takes my breath away but back then I was totally spellbound. Since the first Sarah Moon photograph I ever glimpsed  I understood how the camera could be used for nuance and gesture.

For the past six years I’ve been reading about the talents of past image makers and I especially love the mood and atmosphere of the Pictorialist photographer, Heinrich Kuhn circa 1900’s. He has created without a doubt some of the most beautiful photographs I have ever seen. Kuhn had complete control of the photographic medium.



5) Could you describe how your passion for swimming informs your practice as an artist?

Strangely, I have always solved creative problems while swimming. If this happens early in the swim I cross my fingers for the rest of the swim so that I don’t forget. It is awkward to swim with crossed fingers! The water has been my office since the 70’s and I swim as many days a week as I can. I look forward to what will happen. Sometimes I figure something out that I didn’t even realize needed looking at. Other times my mind wanders and I find I’ve set up the next shoot. All the time I feel energized to tackle life.


 6) What advice would you offer to emerging artists?

I would encourage an emerging artist to find their own voice. I believe that is the best way to succeed. There are so many people out there all doing the same thing with various levels of expertise. One creates art for oneself. It’s something that comes from inside you and not the other way around. Manage your expectations so you don’t get discouraged and give up. You are building a practice and that takes time.


Learn more about Barbara Cole's incredible new series here: 


Bau-Xi Gallery will be showing a special preview of Figure Painting at the Toronto International Art Fair on Thursday, October 26. Visit us in booth A18 for an exclusive look. 

The full series will be on display at Bau-Xi Photo, (350 Dundas St. West, Toronto), starting Saturday, November 4. There will be an opening reception from 2-4pm, and the artist will be in attendance.


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