Chris Cran in Canadian Art Magazine

Seriously Funny: Chris Cran at the National Gallery of Canada

Chris Cran, Self-Portrait Practising Signatures, 1989. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of the NGC@AGA exhibition series, with the generous collaboration of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

Chris Cran, Self-Portrait Practising Signatures, 1989. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of the NGC@AGA exhibition series, with the generous collaboration of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

Chris Cran is one of Canada’s most celebrated painters, but he’s rarely written about as just that. The cult of the Calgary-based artist’s personality precedes him. Many reviews of Cran exhibitions reveal that he is down-to-earth, charming, very funny and prefers to wear all black. Known as a godfather of the Calgary art scene, he’s a board member at Stride Gallery, a teacher at the Alberta College of Art and Design and a mentor and magnanimous supporter of up-and-coming artists in his hometown. To six kids, he’s also Dad. Before his National Gallery of Canada survey exhibition, “Sincerely Yours,” which is on view in Ottawa until September 5, Cran was there in spring 2015 to put together “It’s My Vault,” a showcase of works by 15 artists he admires and is influenced by—a wonder wall of sorts. He included one of his own works in that selection, which makes sense, because he has long been one of his own favourite subjects.

Chris Cran, My Face in Your Home, 1986. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa Photo © NGC. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of the NGC@AGA exhibition series, with the generous collaboration of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

Chris Cran, My Face in Your Home, 1986. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa Photo © NGC. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of the NGC@AGA exhibition series, with the generous collaboration of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

The person responsible for this Cran fandom is Cran himself, of course. In 1984, he began painting The Self-Portrait Series, whose central character is the artist, bedecked in a brown or blue suit and trilby, often playing the self-satisfied salesman. Like a photo-bomber, the main character of the series—Cran’s surrogate, his puppet—wanders in and out of massive realist paintings that depict shop-worn jokes, idioms, tropes and fantasies in flawless oil renderings. There’s a man literally shooting himself in the foot; a wife admonishing a husband (both roles played by Cran) for coming home late; and even a group of gun-toting naked women in wartime Vietnam up to their waists in water, while Cran, in suit and trilby, impotently holding a plywood rifle, enters from stage right. It’s all utterly ridiculous, and it’s meant to be, without equivocation.

Chris Cran, Self-Portrait Accepting a Cheque for the Commission of This Painting, 1988. University of Lethbridge Art Collection. Gift of Peter D. Boyd, 1995. Photo M.N. Hutchinson. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of the NGC@AGA exhibition series, with the generous collaboration of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

Chris Cran, Self-Portrait Accepting a Cheque for the Commission of This Painting, 1988. University of Lethbridge Art Collection. Gift of Peter D. Boyd, 1995. Photo M.N. Hutchinson. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of the NGC@AGA exhibition series, with the generous collaboration of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

The first work he produced in this series was Self-Portrait with Large Audience Trying to Remember What Carmelita Pope Looks Like (1984). Cran remembers being a kid in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, watching television, when a woman came onscreen and introduced herself, saying, “Hi, I’m Carmelita Pope.” Cran, then 10 years old, remembers thinking, “Why does she think I’m supposed to know who she is?” In the painting, he sits in a chair trying to recall this trivial childhood memory, while a large, crudely sketched audience eagerly waits for the fuzzy picture of a woman beginning to form above his head to sharpen into focus. The real joke here is that the woman depicted isn’t Carmelita Pope at all; Cran ripped the image out of an advertisement for a Magic Art Reproducer in one of his old pulp magazines, where he sources much of his material from.

Chris Cran, Large Orange Laughing Woman, 1991. Collection of Wade Felesky and Rebecca Morley. Photo M.N. Hutchinson. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of the NGC@AGA exhibition series, with the generous collaboration of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

Chris Cran, Large Orange Laughing Woman, 1991. Collection of Wade Felesky and Rebecca Morley. Photo M.N. Hutchinson. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of the NGC@AGA exhibition series, with the generous collaboration of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

In other works from this series of self-portraits, we see beginnings of techniques that show up in series to follow. After The Self-Portrait Series, Cran moved away from photo-realism and experimented with Op art, Pop art and abstraction. He likes experimenting, keeping things fresh, but what remains near constant is his Kodachrome palette, suitable for someone whose aesthetic sensibilities were moulded by an early love of 1950s toy and product packaging. In Self-Portrait – Temptation of a Saint (1986), the Cran character temporarily loses his sense of self as he becomes transfixed by an image projected by his cathode-ray television set: a tarantula has crawled onto James Bond’s pillow, and Cran’s crept to the edge of his seat, gripping the armrests. On the surface of the glowing-blue television screen, which is painted with lighter brushstrokes, there are faint traces of horizontal scan lines, the kind that used to appear on television and computer monitors when you tried to capture their screens on another screen.

Chris Cran, Red Man Black/Cartoon, 1990. Collection of the artist. Photo M.N. Hutchinson. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of the NGC@AGA exhibition series, with the generous collaboration of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

Chris Cran, Red Man Black/Cartoon, 1990. Collection of the artist. Photo M.N. Hutchinson. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of the NGC@AGA exhibition series, with the generous collaboration of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

We naturally know how to look past such visual obstructions and isolate the images contained behind the lines. Cran’s Stripe Paintings (1989–) and Halftone Paintings (1990–93) play with this human propensity to find and make meaning. He distorts still lifes, portraits and landscapes by adding screens of stripes (also nodding to Modernist painting conventions) or by enlarging images until they nearly dissolve into abstraction entirely, becoming collections of dots that only coalesce into discernible shapes when you squint or step backwards. Nowadays, of course, you get the same effect when you view the paintings through a smartphone, whose screen does the work for you—or takes the fun out of it, depending on how you look at such things. These distortions are cheeky misdirections that hold the viewer captive for a little bit longer than they ordinarily might linger in front of a painting. “It’s a cheap trick,” Cran tells interviewer William Wood in the exhibition’s award-winning catalogue, “but it works.”

Chris Cran, Mirror, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Wilding Cran Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo David Miller and Petra Malá Miller. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of the NGC@AGA exhibition series, with the generous collaboration of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

Chris Cran, Mirror, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Wilding Cran Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo David Miller and Petra Malá Miller. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of the NGC@AGA exhibition series, with the generous collaboration of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

Audience engagement is paramount to Cran. We see it in his Abstract Paintings series (1995–2009), where he creates optical illusions that reward the viewer who takes time to move around and consider the picture plane from various angles, and notably in his Chorus series (2012–15), which positions tondi of blown-up, close-cropped faces, ripped from 1950s and ’60s ads, displaying ranges of emotion, around works from other series, such as Framing Device Paintings (1996–2001). Just as the Cran character in The Self-Portrait Series is a stand-in for the artist, the anonymous faces that make up Chorus—how quick we are to try to see if we can recognize any of the faces, to ascribe meaning to them—are stand-ins for the audience, like the chorus in Ancient Greek theatre. They smirk, gasp, look apprehensive, quietly observe, or ooh and aah like rock ’n’ roll groupies, creating different dialogues depending on how they are arranged and around what other works. They set the tone. As anyone who’s bad at telling jokes knows, it’s not what you say that counts, but how you deliver it. At the end of the National Gallery’s exhibition, there are works from Chorus installed in the staircase, surrounding you, in effect making you the artwork.

Cran has called art “a mute apparatus”—it’s not complete until a viewer applies thoughts, words and meanings to it. It can only speak when spoken to. The words “Sincerely Yours” necessarily preclude “Dear —.” They’re an invitation in, addressed to fans, long-time and first-time alike. When Cran came up with the title, he was thinking of signed photographs of movie stars that were mass-produced in the 1950s (so not really “sincerely” anyone’s, in fact).

Cran’s autograph appears in the last work in The Self-Portrait Series: Self-Portrait Practising Signatures (1989). In it, Cran’s writes various versions of his name, in curlicued cursive, block capitals and simplified minimalist construction of loops and lines. But the painting isn’t a self-portrait at all. Cran took the image he based it on from in a British publication made in the 1950s. He found it and thought, well, “Close enough.”

“Sincerely Yours” is also a signing off, signifying the end, but the prolific Cran isn’t nearly finished yet. After this exhibition wraps, he’s showing a suite of new paintings at Toronto’s Clint Roenisch Gallery, in a show cleverly called “Anon Anon”—the perfect punchline to end a retrospective with.


LA Times Review of Martin Werthmann: Connected Bubbles

First U.S. show for German woodblock artist is delectably disorienting

Detail of Martin Werthmann's woodblock print "Epilogue II," which also can be seen full frame below. (Trevor Good / Wilding Cran Gallery)

Detail of Martin Werthmann's woodblock print "Epilogue II," which also can be seen full frame below. (Trevor Good / Wilding Cran Gallery)

By Leah Olman

Martin Werthmann’s huge, engrossing woodblock prints recall the surfaces of paintings that have been built up in layers and then sanded down in areas, revealing glimpses of the history of their own making.

In the Berlin artist's work, stratification and discontinuity are actively in play, yielding a sense of cohesion interrupted.

Related prints on the artist's website feature female nudes and other recognizable figures, and the show's press release describes his use of found images of car accidents and other catastrophes, but there are few identifiable subjects in the six pieces at Wilding Cran Gallery in L.A. that constitute Werthmann's first solo U.S. show.

A bridge appears in two prints and a seascape in another, but the overall lack of specificity is not a detriment. Teeming patterns propel our eyes into restless motion and our minds into an animated, agitated, delectable state of disorientation.

The inked layers oscillate between conjuring the fluidity of water and the mottled granularity of stone. Werthmann organizes each massive monoprint (a two-panel piece here measures about 10 by 13 feet) collage-style, as an assembly of geometric and organic shapes, setting passages aflame with burnt orange against areas of cool cobalt. The spaces are ambiguous and the imagery diffuse, but experience of the work is fully immersive.


Martin Bennett at Birch Contemporary in Toronto

Martin Bennett: When I Can No Longer Give Air To Fire. Exhibition runs through 16 July, 2016

This solo exhibition by Saskatoon-based Martin Bennett will present continuations of three main strands of the artist’s practice: the Static Image Paintings (an expansion of image-based paintings started in 1999), the Grey Volume Paintings (a continuation of monochromatically flooded canvases started in 1995), and the Variant Flash Paintings (a continuation of gestural works initiated in 1996). Aesthetically, two unifying elements bind the works - firstly their black and white palette, and secondly the unusual finishing process of electrically sanding the surface of the painting to give the works a distinct, stripped back texture.
The exhibition’s title 'When I Can No Longer Give Air To Fire', is also a continuation, carried across from Bennett’s previous solo exhibition at Birch Contemporary. The exhibition title and the works make connections with varied, culturally loaded references including William Golding’s Pincher Martin, Prometheus, Percy Bysshe Shelley, the Non-Catholic Cemetery for Foreigners in Rome, Stonehenge, A dead rabbit, burial mounds, bird song, the pond at Villa Borghese and more.
For the Static Image Paintings Bennett draws upon imagery from photographs he has taken in the past decade, which emerge from time spent on long walks. Bennett reflects on the experiences connected to the photographs and endeavors to produce paintings that do not diminish those experiences. Speaking of the connections between the works, Bennett says:
“As the paintings are being made they tend to reveal things in relation to one another that I wasn't anticipating; and certainly not planning at the early stages - I try to extend these moments. Because I spend a lot of my time in a dark studio painting the images I tend to keep myself occupied by thinking about all the different ways the images and paintings might connect.”

Catherine Fairbanks in two group shows.

Catherine Fairbanks has work in two group shows this month, BBQLA and Artists Curated Projects.

End of Semester at BBQLA. Opening Reception this Friday, July 1st 2016, 8:00pm – 12:00am.
On view through Saturday, July 9th, 2016.

On My Volcano Grows The Grass at Artist Curated Projects. On view though July 11th. With Zarouhie Abdalian, Erica Mahinay, James Gregory Atkinson & Helen Demisch, Dashiell Manley
and Chase Wilson.

Snap Review of Maria Lynch: Spaces and Spectacles in Contemporary Art Review LA

Maria Lynch at Wilding Cran by Claire de Dobay Rifelj

Walking into Maria Lynch’s exhibition at Wilding Cran—the artist’s first showing in Los Angeles—visitors come immediately face-to-face with a makeshift enclosure containing nearly one hundred large, and brightly colored, transparent beach balls. In theory, the concept of a larger-than-life ball pit exudes playfulness. To move through Lynch’s pen, however, you must proceed slowly, pushing balls up and around your body with concerted effort in order to forge a path through the rubbery plastic. A meditative soundtrack by the Brazilian musician and composer Rodrigo Amarante adds a soothing aural layer to the awkward, if amusing, experience. One is left to imagine the dramatic impact had logistics allowed the prismatic balls to overtake a larger percentage (if not all) of the exhibition space.

In the remaining two-thirds of the gallery, paintings and sculptures incorporate the same aesthetic vocabulary that Lynch has adopted over the last few years: wildly colorful, nearly abstract canvases, and assemblages of homemade soft sculptures made up of whimsical appendages that avoid coalescing into recognizable forms. The latter recall work by Mike Kelley, though without the pathos of his sutured stuffed animals.

Instead, Lynch’s stated aim is to activate her viewers’ bodily and sensory awareness in order to overcome ingrained patterns of rational thinking. Her installation accomplishes this, forcing you to attend to the space you occupy in the here and now. And while Lynch’s paintings and sculptures present a visual feast—Vanity (2016) offers a particularly alluring marriage of color and form, as if a Matisse cutout were beginning to morph and metastasize—there is still room for the young artist to delve deeper into questions of perception and mindfulness, particularly in an age of pervasive screens and quickening attention spans.

Maria Lynch in Flaunt Magazine


Maria Lynch speaks with her whole body. When she talks, you are struck by the movement of her hands—elegant and open. Lynch is not afraid to play with her hair, to smile, to laugh—all the while talking about deconstructionist philosophies. This freedom of the body, “of the flesh,” is the central tenant of Lynch’s work. When walking into her exhibition, Spaces and Spectacles, do not expect the semi-sterile, two-dimensional, alienating visage of the typical gallery show. Instead, you will find yourself in a room full of colorful, transparent beach balls, wall to wall, floor to ceiling.

The only way to see Lynch’s paintings is through the fully immersive, fantastically fun, nostalgic adult-sized ball pit. Instead of consuming art, which we so often find ourselves doing, Lynch’s art engages your whole body, invites you to be free. The same themes of the ballpit—childhood, whimsicality, memory, physicality, immersion—carry on throughout her work as well as how she carries herself as a person. Lynch and I sat down for tea at a café in Downtown L.A. to discuss the role of art, the intimacy of the self, and the joy of a matcha latte.

You grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Do you feel the landscapes of your childhood inform the landscapes of your paintings and sculptures?

For sure. I was able to have the experience of a culture that has the celebration of the meat, the flesh, Carnival, right? There is a fake representation of being open in Brazil. Everyone thinks Brazilians are so open and easygoing, but they are actually really conservative. It’s a weird contradiction. I started to analyze all of those things in the culture. At the same time that I studied art, I studied philosophy. The philosophers that really made sense to me were interested in the “line of difference.” They believe that rationalism is a trap. The more you think, the more educated people are, the less they will live; I started to parallel that in my work. I was always interested in this fantasy, this “let it be” of the unconscious, this primitive excellence.

I evoke allegories. I evoke the experience of the body. I want people to have that freedom to deconstruct themselves. I want them to see that everything is constructed—your personality, your culture—and to let that go, to experience different rhythms and forms of life. That’s the role of art, but conceptual art has taken over so much. People don’t interact with the work. They’re just standing there, not understanding.

What is the purpose of art for you?

You have the whole history of art to work with. But nowadays in society, we need people to engage with art. It’s political, in a sense. People need to engage with themselves. People need to engage with their happiness—not carefree happiness, but their strength and empowerment. For example, Deleuze had the whole history of French philosophy to work with, and he deconstructed all the metaphysics. In a humble way, I’m trying to do that with art. I’m trying to celebrate and exalt the experience of the body. Another thinker that I loved said, “The most profound is the skin.” I love that. I’m bringing to the surface something that is deep.

What were your first introductions to art? Did you always know you wanted to paint?

I started doing photography. That was my first artistic journey. I was fascinated by deconstructing reality. I would turn the realm of reality into something abstract, something that didn’t make sense. When I had the paintings, I realized I could do anything.

Your work deals with a lot of different mediums—drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, performance—but it feels cohesive. Is everything you make rooted in the same aesthetic or idea?

Every material has its own embodied physicality. I started painting, but I wanted something to translate it into reality. I wanted the fantastic aspect of the painting to have physicality. So I delved into sculptures made out of fabric. Fabric has so many metaphors that deal with my work—clothes, softness, the resemblance of teddy bears. All of a sudden, I discovered this whole other world outside of fabric. With the balloons for the show, I wanted something immersive, something that you played as a kid. It’s not something super elaborate. They are magical. They’re like bubbles. The thing that centers my work is the body, and the balloons are such a good metaphor for the abstraction and perspective of the body. In this installation, I want to fill the volume of an empty space. And you have to find the space out, like a labyrinth.

The figures of your paintings seem to be hidden or abstracted in the landscape. When you paint these figures, are you thinking about absence, concealment, camouflage? Or are they kind of like ghosts?

My work is feminine—I always paint a woman. In a different series I did, I painted negatives of female figures, and then left the canvas behind, so it looked very ghostly. For that, I used figures of women who were idealized, and I got a lot of comments about that. Now, I want to go to another place. Sometimes they appear; sometimes they don’t. When they appear, they appear halfway.

Your paintings are bright and colorful, but they don’t necessarily feel childish or whimsical. What would you say your relationship to color is?

I try to create something in between. That’s probably why you felt that. What’s childhood, first of all? I want to create another word for that. When you think about childhood, there is so much to that. The way I see it, it’s a person who doesn’t have too much memory. She is just beginning a life. She sees everything in the abstract form. She doesn’t really know what things are. I want the adult to go back to that. It’s hard. We are constructed by memories. It’s powerful to have that moment of “let it go,” to go back to that point and ask, “What is this?” Or maybe you aren’t thinking what things are at all.

Though these particular works are not explicitly erotic, they seem to be interested in corporeal intimacy and pleasure, especially with a piece like “Desires.” What are your thoughts?

Intimacy is this private place. In society, there is private and public, and I think it is very interesting to cross over. Eroticism is a place of the intimate, the desire, pleasure. It’s all tied together. I want to show that in my work. I want it to cut through into the public space.

I see aspects of Matisse and Jodorowsky in your work. Are these artists that you’re thinking about? Or are there others, like philosophers and writers, who inspire you?

I love Jodorowsky. Works have a relationship with you that you are affected by. Sometimes, it can be as simple as a poem, or just seeing something. I love painters like Cecily Brown. But it’s all together. It’s all what you are.

How was exhibiting in Los Angeles? Did it change the way you created the work?

I was inspired by L.A., but the work was built and readied in New York. Now that I’m here, I’m already thinking about new things. I’m experiencing new things, new spaces, new natures, new people. The people here are so free. That’s an interesting balance for this show. If I showed it in New York, people would be thinking about it before they experienced it. I want people to go into themselves and have an experience. So I think it was perfect to have it here.

How does the title Spaces and Spectacles relate to the show as a whole?

Two shows ago, in Brazil, I had a show where I covered the ground in popcorn. The idea for me centered around entertainment, but reversed. From there, I began thinking about cinema, but stopped. With Rodrigo [Amarante of Little Joy] making the sound, it’s creating a scene in four dimensions. That the “Spectacle.” And “Spaces,” because I’m creating an environment, spaces of interaction. You’re participating in the scene.

Maria Lynch’s Spaces and Spectacles opens tomorrow at Wilding Cran Gallery

Written by Keely Shinners

Vikky Alexander in AnOther Magazine

Rewriting the Language of Fashion Photography

Blue Obsession, 1983-2015© Vikky Alexander, courtesy of Cooper Cole Gallery

Blue Obsession, 1983-2015© Vikky Alexander, courtesy of Cooper Cole Gallery

Text by Isabella Smith
Who? Canadian artist Vikky Alexander came of age artistically in the 1980s New York of Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger, and Sherrie Levine. She was the youngest and least recognised of this famous group, and used conceptual photography to demystify and understand visual codes. Like her more established peers, her strategy was one of visual appropriation, manipulation, and re-contextualisation: she re-photographed and manipulated generic images of female beauty taken from European fashion editorials, then re-presented fashion’s fantastical yet familiar images in a high art context. Where many artists have tried to shatter consumerist fantasies by offering explicitly critical alternatives, Alexander took visions of capitalist escapism— and amplified their effects to the max.

The Four Seasons, 1980© Vikky Alexander, courtesy of Cooper Cole Gallery

The Four Seasons, 1980© Vikky Alexander, courtesy of Cooper Cole Gallery

What? Alexander’s work recalls French theorist Roland Barthes’ dictum on the languages of visual culture: “a code cannot be destroyed, only ‘played off.’” By foregrounding the fashion photograph’s role as a vehicle conveying notions of physical acceptability, Alexander encourages viewers to become aware of ideological mechanisms at play. Alexander’s aim when making these works was to “look at myself looking at other women.” She is speaking both literally and metaphorically; her appropriated images are mounted on mirror-like black surfaces, so through a process of visual superimposition, the idealised image and the viewer gazing at it become, in a sense, one. Alexander is interested in the inevitable comparison that ensues from this collaboraion. “I don’t want to speak for all women, but I think many of us have a love/hate relationship with fashion," she states, "You can try, but you will never attain the idealised glamour of an editorial. There’s an ambivalent push-pull effect; one knows the unattainability of media images, but desire can make you blind to reality."

St Sebastian, 1982© Vikky Alexander, courtesy of Cooper Cole Gallery

St Sebastian, 1982© Vikky Alexander, courtesy of Cooper Cole Gallery

Working in art history-inspired diptych and triptych formats in this series was Alexander’s attempt to “give something fleeting and changeable, fashion, a longer lifespan of relevance.” St Sebastian (1983) alludes to ideas of physical martyrdom, connected to the pursuit of perfection. A swimsuit model, originally photographed lying down, is placed upright as if bound (Sebastian was shot through with arrows while tied to a stake). A masculine religious and historical trope becomes a secular, female, and contemporary narrative. Another work, Pietà (1981), in which a man watches over a reclining female model, reverses the roles of the Virgin Mary mourning the dead Christ in Michelangelo’s iconic sculpture. In this sense, Alexander’s women become less passive objects awaiting visual consumption in the space of an editorial, and more protagonists, existing in a rich historical lineage.

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Vikky Alexander at Cooper Cole in Toronto


Vikky Alexander
The Temptation of Saint Anthony
May 13 – June 18, 2016

Opening Reception: Friday May 13, 2016 / 6 – 8pm.

COOPER COLE is pleased to present a solo exhibition from Vikky Alexander.

This exhibition reintroduces a selection of photographic works that were completed when Alexander was living in New York in the early nineteen eighties. Moving there from Canada, she became the youngest member of a group of artists that included Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine and Richard Prince, who were using photography to demystify codes and systems of representation through appropriation and quotation.

Drawing upon the editorial pages of fashion magazines, Alexander's primary subject matter consists of generic images of women that are conventionally thought of as beautiful by a patriarchal society. Through a system of cropping, rephotographing, enlarging, repositioning and reorganizing the images, Alexander aims to decontextualize these advertisements in a way to skew the viewer's perception of their original intent. These depictions of beauty and grace, along with the artists use of repetition within the formal convention of a rigid minimalist grid, challenge not only the commodification of female imagery in the mass media and the artifice involved in the world of fashion, but also questioning the true meaning of beauty, uniqueness, and individuality.

Vikky Alexander (b. 1959, Victoria, Canada) is a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She is known for her large scale photo-mural installations and multimedia works that combine photography with sculptural objects. These works foreground a strong interest in the history of architecture, the fields of design and fashion supported by the production of drawing and collage. Her early work informed the movement of Appropriation Art and she is aligned with the Vancouver School. Having exhibited professionally since 1981, Alexander has shown in venues such as The New Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, DIA Art Foundation, New York; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, USA; Kunsthalle Bern, Bern, Switzerland; Vancouver Art Gallery, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada; Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK; Yokohama Civic Art Gallery, Yokohama, Japan; Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Tiawan; amongst others. Her works can be found in the collections of the the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, International Center of Photography, New York City, USA; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada; and the Deste Foundation, Athens, Greece. Since 1992 Alexander has been professor of photography in the Visual Arts Department at the University of Victoria in Canada. Alexander currently lives and works between Vancouver and Montreal, Canada. 

Vikky Alexander
The Temptation of Saint Anthony
May 13 – June 18, 2016

1134 Dupont St.
Toronto, Ontario M6H2A2

ARTFORUM Critics Pick

Catherine Fairbanks: Two Chimneys

Los Angeles
Catherine Fairbanks
939 South Santa Fe Avenue, Unit A
April 9–May 28

Two chimneys, Chimney Sculpture 1, 2015–16, and Chimney Sculpture 2, 2016, stand stark in the middle of the room. Hung on a corner wall are two horsehair weavings, Luce’s Fireplace 10 and 12, both 2014, reminiscent of brushes for sweeping ash. Four ceramic and papier-mâché jugs, Jug 1, 2016, and Pitcher Sculpture 4, 5, and 9 (all 2015), are stored in the back. And five embossed drawings on paper—abstractions of lamps, pitchers, and busts—authenticate this show’s sense of shelter.

In “Two Chimneys,” Catherine Fairbanks’s techniques result in ordinary magic: flour and water can make bread, or in this case, paste for paper sculpture. Pressure and heat fire earthenware, and tension combined with dye raises paper. For the show’s two eponymous sculptures, Fairbanks worked without a frame, layering pile upon pile of paper strips to replicate a mainstay of a family home—the gathering place to eat or stay warm and dry.

Yet the works here are not humdrum craftwork borne from childhood nostalgia. Nor do they show signs of daily use: There’s no ash or soot, their edges don’t fray, and absent are any wine-stained rims. The jugs bear paper handles, a medium unsuited to serving liquids. If the chimneys were lit, they would burst into flame. While hearth, vessel, and light are usually humble symbols of offering and providence, the artist’s sculptures are stripped of life-giving necessity. Fairbanks attends to the common, raising the recesses of the domestic to the master’s surface.

By Meg Whiteford


A conversation with Mayer Rus from Architectural Digest

L.A. Art Gallery Wilding Cran Fuels the City's Exploding Downtown Scene

West Coast editor Mayer Rus catches up with husband-and-wife dealers Naomi deLuce Wilding and Anthony Cran to discuss the roiling art market, swarming hipsters, and the perils and possibilities of being stuck between stripper bars and SoHo House.


photo by Austin Irving

photo by Austin Irving

Anthony Cran: We opened Wilding Cran in April of 2014. It was something we really, really wanted to do. It’s in our blood.

Naomi deLuce Wilding: One of the things that led us to think more about a gallery was working with Anthony’s dad, Canadian artist Chris Cran. We were selling some of his work, and he very kindly gave us commission. It gave us the idea that this might be something to explore more seriously.

MR: Tell me about the program at the gallery.

AC: We started out with a roster of artists we’ve known for years. I grew up with artists, as did Naomi. So we reached out to people like Christian Eckart, Vikky Alexander, Herald Nix, and John Will. Happily, most of them said yes. Most of those are established midcareer artists, but as we’re moving forward, we’ve started working with emerging artists as well.

NW: Most of those initial artists are based elsewhere—in Canada and other places—which presents a lot of challenges once you have a physical space. So it’s really a pleasure to start building relationships with local artists and working with them in a more collaborative way.

AC: We’re still rounding out the lineup. We’re still figuring it all out and discovering ourselves in a way.

NW: We don’t want to jump into relationships with artists just because they’re hot right now. We’re thinking long-term.

MR: Are there types of work you’re particularly interested in?

NW: Not really. The process of finding sympathetic artists is more organic and nuanced.

MR: How has your entrée into the commercial art arena gone since you opened?

AC: We’re still open, which is good. There are different ways to measure success, and one of them is literally having your door open to the public. We’re able to produce ambitious shows and then move on to the next and, hopefully, the next and the next.

NW: We did a really successful show last year called “Here Now”—six painters from Los Angeles who are not represented by us. I think we want to make that an annual thing if we can, not necessarily limited to outside artists. It’s lovely to bring work together that we’re perhaps not so familiar with.

AC: And with that, you bring six or seven social groups together. It’s a celebration of what we see happening in L.A. right now, so it’s a really good thing to do.

MR: Tell me about Austin Irving, one of your younger artists. I’m crazy about her work.

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Last look at post-post by Sharsten Plenge


By Sharsten Plenge

What is after in the age of the image? What follows in a model predicated by post-net culture? What comes “after after” is the object and subject dismantled within post-post— Christian Eckart’s solo show and LA debut standing in its final days at Wilding Cran Gallery.

Central to this question lies The Absurd Vehicle. Described by Eckart as a “painting with an identity crisis,” the work is as colossal in spatial enormity as in philosophical evocation. A sculpture. A vessel. A time machine. An image born from looking at upside-down Rodney Graham trees. A product whose title is meant to be literal— stemming from a continual draw on the “absurdity of the utility of painting.” At first sight, this glistening elliptic void protrudes from a shell perched atop a 16-wheel axle like a modular tree— so it’s interesting to learn this piece was conceived as a site-specific installation for a collector’s Baroque garden… that is until the wife decided she’d rather not have this chthonic creature bearing a purple-orange ombre as a landscape centerpiece.

Ultimately, that’s our gain because The Absurd Vehicle is the linking oracle here— a continuum— where “the rhetoric of the fake” is rejected to extend Eckart’s ongoing search for the “rhetoric of the real.” Straying from ideologies [still] redundantly simulated in the surfaces of fellow contemporaries who also first gained prominence in the 80’s New York scene— like Julian Schnabel and Peter Halley— Eckart rejected the notion that painting was dead; instead approaching the medium as a malleable plane for communicating the “meta-sublime” and the sacred.

“Taking the hand out” permeates Eckart’s industrial process and sensibility. Applying a post-internet approach, Eckart deletes the presence of an author allowing us to submit completely to the autonomy and possibility of the object. Mediated through a machine, Eckart “deploys a kind of meta-painting” as a way to reveal the “software undergirding the concept of ‘Art’ itself.”

A variation of Cloud Room Field— his recently completed 60 ft. commission for Houston’s Hobby Airport— Dichroic Glass Field identifies the natural within the artificial. An object in constant flux, light shifts through a webbing of refraction, producing an image that is never the same. Mesmerized in an individualized encounter, Eckart deploys the ability for an object to elicit the sensation of immersion. We transcend architectures without having to mobilize walls.

Here, a glimpse of possibility is posited within the source of our viewing experience. Like the airport, the gallery model is an example of a quintessential non-place— the latter constituted through its dual negation of “space-based social function and the textuality of the artwork.” Through dislocating the source image— both by citing and recreating past work (the recent Limbus Painting diptych is based upon his White Painting series of the mid-80’s) and forging new hybrids for their presentation— Eckart alludes to a vision of art in a post-space: a proposal for how objects can continually shape their ontological status through constant rectification.

Maria Lynch interview in Artspace // Maria Lynch opens June 4th

A Few Questions for Maria Lynch, Brazilian Sculptor of Elevated Child's Play and Transience

By Karen Rosenberg

NAME: Maria Lynch
AGE: 34
HOMETOWN: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
BASE OF OPERATIONS: New York, Los Angeles, and Rio de Janeiro-Brazil
MEDIUM OF CHOICE: I work with different mediums, from painting to videos, performance, installation, and music.
WHY I MAKE ART: To be part of an atemporal dialogue, to transform my world and make others share their worlds with mine, to show a way we can subvert established systems of logic and the discourse of rationality. Art chose me, in so many ways.

WHAT I'M WORKING ON NOW: This is one of the paintings for my upcoming solo show in June at Wilding Cran Gallery in Los Angeles:

I’m working on another show now that opens on April 2nd in São Paulo, at Blau Projects. I will have the oportunity to show works in various media, some paintings, and a new installation—part of a series I named "Rooms Of Experience." The idea started in 2012 when I made an installation called Ocupação Macia (Soft Ocuppation), a room filled with small fabric sculptures that are a mix of child’s play and fantasy, like a huge assemblage of deconstructed memories. I felt that I made a step foward from painting—I wanted people to be literally "touched" by their senses. I started to develop other rooms, wondering how I could make people think through their bodily experiences without pre-conceived ideas.
This is my goal now: taking someone who is set in their own way of thinking, and showing them that they are able to access this other dimension of the self. The body is the one who actually thinks—rationality comes after. 

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Christian Eckart in the Houston Chronicle

Christian Eckart has found a good groove in Houston

Photo: J. Patric Schneider, Freelance

Photo: J. Patric Schneider, Freelance

Artist Christian Eckart's 'Cloud Room Field' brings light to Hobby Airport terminal

By Molly Glentzer

Christian Eckart was pouring potent margaritas into highball glasses.

"It's a little strong, but you're not obliged to finish it. I don't know what it is with alcohol and art," he said, chuckling. "In New York, I was a martini connoisseur. This is a new tequila I fell in love with. Casamigos. It has George Clooney's signature on the label. For the price, the best tequila I'm willing to buy."

He was being hospitable in his Museum District home, but Eckart also felt like he needed a stiff drink that day in mid-October. His first Houston public art commission, the $600,000 "Cloud Room Field" for Hobby Airport, was behind schedule.

One of the largest local public commissions of the year (and one of seven major new works for the airport's recent expansion), the piece took about eight months to design and fabricate. Every piece of it but the screws was custom-made by craftsmen Eckart hired in Austin and Toronto.

"For me, this is the thrill. I basically create an impossible object in my mind, then I have to figure out how to engineer and build it," he said. The project fills 445 files in 23 folders on his computer.

Measuring 10 feet by 60 feet, the luminous "Cloud Room Field" contains 600 panes of custom-made dichroic glass in nine pastel colors that cast reflections in opposing colors, sparkling constantly. They're suspended at 45-degree angles, in six directions, inside a three-dimensional armature of anodized aluminum and stainless steel. This grid has about 15,000 parts.

But engineering isn't really the point: For years, Eckart, 56, has aimed to evoke the sublime - a notion popularized by 18th-century Romantics who thought art should be an awesomely soulful counterpoint to science and reason. Eckart also draws from the concepts of Renaissance architects who designed vast, ornate cathedrals to give visitors an ecstatic experience.

He utilizes an entirely different mode of transport, however: contemporary abstraction, often rendered in cold, hard materials.

"Cloud Room Field" art installation above the security checkpoint at Hobby Airport by Christian Eckart Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, in Houston. ( James Nielsen / Houston Chronicle )

"Cloud Room Field" art installation above the security checkpoint at Hobby Airport by Christian Eckart Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, in Houston. ( James Nielsen / Houston Chronicle )

From 'Horn of Plenty' to Houston

Eckart came to Houston in 2003 looking for a more stable life. A native of Calgary, Canada, who became a U.S. citizen in 1995, he'd lived through years of extremes in Brooklyn and Europe.

"In New York, I had a lot of rich and famous friends who talked about their investments all the time. We never talked about art at all. I didn't want to be like that," Eckart said.

Growing up, he was always "the kid who could draw" but also an athlete and a hard worker. His father, a home builder, expected him to pay for his own bikes, cars and schooling and gave him his first summer job at the age of 9.

He ended up majoring in art because he couldn't get into film school. He moved to New York in 1984 and earned his master's degree at Hunter College in 1986.

That was a seminal moment for his generation.

Almost overnight, Eckart was hailed as an international star in a movement some coined "M.F.A. Abstraction." They were the first group trained academically "in a very specific way," approaching art and the making of it highly conceptually, said gallery owner Robert McClain, Eckart's Houston dealer. Prices for their work skyrocketed, even as global stock markets tanked in 1987.

Eckart broke into the really big time alongside Jeff Koons, Robert Gober and other then up-and-comers in "Horn of Plenty," a landmark 1989 exhibition at Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum. European collectors loved his work, and he began to think in even grander terms.

He shifted from concocting his own gold-leaf paintings on plywood - labor-intensive studio work - to what he calls his "capital-intensive" practice.

"It was a moment where you could make these pretty big decisions," he said.

He came up with a concept for a series of 144 layered screen prints on aluminum exploring moments of ecstasy in contemporary life. He finished nine pieces - including a pair of triptychs now in his studio - before the swollen art market collapsed in 1990.

Eckart's career spiraled, along with his first marriage.

"I was in a really dark place for a few years," he said.

Eventually, he found what seemed like a perfect life, dividing his time between Brooklyn and Europe, where galleries continued to show his work. He spent part of a year in Berlin and kept a studio in Amsterdam for about four years.

After the attacks on the World Trade Center in September 2001, he returned to Brooklyn for good, he thought. He fell in love with Gillian Davies, a fellow Canadian and the stockbroker sister of a client. She moved from Vancouver to New York to be with him, but the city still was in shock, and the winter of 2001 was miserably cold.

They made wish lists of better places to live. They wanted to be near water, and she wanted a horse and dogs.

San Diego topped Davies' list, but Eckart had a solo show at McClain Gallery that January, and they stayed in Houston for six months. She liked the people - and wearing shorts in winter. They left New York on the last day of 2002 and married in 2003.

"It all just fell into place," Davies said. "Sometimes, it feels like you're swimming upstream and things are difficult. This was like, it just flowed."

She quickly found a good job in Houston as an energy company executive, and he taught classes at the Glassell School of Art and Rice University while they converted a dilapidated property into a sleek, contemporary home.

The loftlike space reads instantly as the sophisticated habitat of well-traveled people with a soft spot for rescued animals. Their blue heeler, Cody; Catahoula leopard dog, Annie, and a cat named Squirrel greet visitors at the door.

In the living room, a massive mirrored Buddha glows like a Zen disco ball. It's one of their favorite things, although they also own serious art by Mark Flood, Michael Bevilacqua, Kelli Vance, Adam Fuss, Axel Hütte and Koons. Eckart also collects monochromatic Chinese ceramics that fill a glass case inset into one wall.

Life in Houston has been good. He and Davies often entertain friends, who include former Mayor Bill White and his wife, Andrea White. Eckart also plays tennis often at Houston City Club and dotes on the extreme machines on his side of the garage - a new Ducati bike ("the Ferrari of Italian motorcyles"); a hard-tail chopper, a bike with no rear suspension; and an electric BMW car.

"The physics of riding a motorcycle are so beautiful. It can be a transcendent experience," Eckart said.

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Oliver Kupper interviews Jeremy Everett for Autre Magazine


In Jeremy Everett’s latest, most ambitious work of art, entitled FLOY – a magnum opus of grandiosity and scale – the artist crashes a 60-foot truck on a highway in Utah, leaving milk spilled across the asphalt. The wreckage was filmed from a helicopter ­– the artist had to race from the crash site to the helipad before the milk evaporated. Indeed, evaporation is an important part of Everett’s oeuvre – in his Double Pour series, for which his current exhibition at Wilding Cran is named after, the artist captured water spilled on a generic parking lot in Los Angeles before it dried and disappeared into the ether. While most artists apply material to material, Everett’s practice seems almost like a VHS tape on constant rewind; a fuzzy layering of time, space and ephemerality that makes you realize the illusion of time, the impermanence of life and the absurdity of everything. For instance, there is the time the artist took a vacuum to Death Valley and literally Hoovered the desert landscape – in the following interview, you’ll find out what happened to the vacuum. Also in our conversation, Everett talks about what it's like crashing a truck full of milk, the symbolism of the American highway, and his experience growing up in the American west.  

Oliver Kupper: So, I want to talk about FLOY because we’re standing in front of it right now, what was it like making that project? 

Jeremy Everett: We had a very small crew, only seven people. No insurance. It was mostly spoiled milk. We also had to use this fire-retardant foam because the milk was evaporating so fast I wouldn't have had time to go get the helicopter and fly back and document the piece from above.  But I like it even more, that it was staged in this way. Shooting from the hip. 

OK: Yeah, it’s like a set. Was it originally used to transport milk? Real dairy?

JE: Yes its all real. The truck was previously wrecked so I filled it and wrecked it again. 

OK: Was it difficult to get permits? 

JE: It was tedious, government agencies need facts. Part of the text for this piece will be the proposals for the permits. They ask for exactly what you’re going to do—how, when, who. It’s this absurd idea dissected into factual government vocabulary. I was trying to convince the department of highway on the phone, they said, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but if it all evaporates and there will be no permanent damage then okay.” 

OK: Utah seems outside of that creative realm. People might be more open to saying, “Okay, whatever you want to do.”

JE: In the beginning they couldn’t understand how it could be sculpture, but they were still very supportive by agreeing to do it, by the end of the day they loved it so much all of the families of the local crew came out to see it  and celebrate the work. Very interesting to see that transition. I am so grateful for their help,  I’m sending them a print from this show

OK: The branding on the truck says Real Dairy, that's such an American, generic thing.

JE: Yeah, and the highway is America’s greatest monument 

OK: I’ve been reading a lot of interviews about you, and it seems like people have trouble defining your work in a less abstract way. How would you define your practice?

JE: All of the work is directly related to and participates inside of life.  The work in this show begins with an action, wrecking the truck, pouring two puddles in a parking lot in LA, painting the visual structure of the surface, the grid, until it breaks. Allowing these disruptions to produce a visual charge.   

OK: And earth art. Could that be used to define your work? You grew up in Colorado, right? 

JE: I grew up in Colorado very close to where Christo did Rifle Curtain, I enjoy the works of Smithson and Heizer very much but I don’t feel my work has a connection to land art. I closed the the highway so I could wreck the truck, so the sculpture could participate in the system, stop the system, this disruption is a significant part of the work.

OK: So there’s a performance aspect to it?

JE: Yes. All of the photographs of Works in Situ are documentations of temporary works that I stage or perform. I really enjoy how factual a work is when it participates inside of life.  Double Pour lasted five minutes, during this time the parking lot became something else long enough so I could  photograph it.  

OK: And landscape architecture—what were you going to do with that degree?

JE: Nothing. But the school was incredible. We had full freedom in a very conceptual environment. 

OK: So, you used that to explore your artistic practice?

JE: Yes. I never really practiced landscape architecture. After school, I went to Toronto to study with the designer Bruce Mau. It was a graduate interdisciplinary studio with only seven people, so we had full freedom. My entire education was full freedom. I never really thought about the need to categorize what I was doing or making.   

OK: It seems you have an obsession with materials and decay, the way materials interact with one another.

JE: The way the cream of the milk ran down the chrome of the truck. I enjoy using references of certain materials as a part of the work. Also revealing certain visual qualities like the way the wireframe grid leaves an image on the surface of the painting with photographic accuracy. 

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