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April 27, 2024 – June 23, 2024

Sun Over Swamp

Artist Multiple Artists

Inquiry How can we work together?

Presented by: The Coast Bastion Hotel

Artists:

Rebecca Brewer, Azadeh Elmizadeh, Rita Letendre, Gailan Ngan, and Takao Tanabe

Image:

Sun Over Swamp, acrylic on paper, 1964, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of Takao Tanabe

“The West Coast has its bright, clear days where all is revealed, but I favour the gray mists, the rain obscured Islands and the clouds that hide the details. However much we desire order and clarity in all the details of our lives there are always unexpected events that could cloud and change our course.”

-Takao Tanabe


Join Nanaimo Art Gallery Curator Jesse Birch, and Learning & Engagement Coordinator Yvonne Vander Kooi for an engaging conversation with Sun Over Swamp exhibiting artists Rebecca Brewer, Azadeh Elmizadeh, and Gailan Ngan. Saturday, April 27th at 3 pm

Sun Over Swamp: Paths to Abstraction

Opening Reception: April 26th, 2024

Sun Over Swamp is an exhibition that takes its title from a 1964 painting by Takao Tanabe and features five artists who consider ecology through diverse approaches to abstract painting.

In Tanabe’s Sun Over Swamp, a brushed yellow rectangle hovers over splashes of ochre and umber and hatches of turquoise and slate. With Tanabe’s title in mind, we can begin to unpack what we are observing beyond composition and colour. The sun and swamp not only balance and reflect each other in this painting, but they are also interrelated ecological forces. Swamps are nourished by the sun and, in turn, trap carbon in living plants, soil, peat, and sediment.

Our bodies also revel in the sun’s energy, and like swamps, they are porous and mostly liquid. We are all viscerally interconnected and dependent on one another for collective care. As individuals and communities we are tied to our place and time, while entwined with an earthly network of beings and ecosystems. 

Sixty years after Tanabe’s painting was made, the intensity of solar radiation and the swamp’s ability to trap carbon are increasingly out of balance. Clear cuts, mines, and pipelines have redrawn the terrain, while our new “fire season” colours the horizon in a gray orange haze, abstracting both the sky and the land.

Working on canvas, linen, wood, and ceramic, artists in Sun Over Swamp reflect on our fragile yet globally interconnected biomes. From tracing the environmental footprint of their materials, to employing storytelling, mythology, artificial intelligence, and embodied learning in their processes; Rebecca Brewer, Azadeh Elmizadeh, Rita Letendre, Gailan Ngan, and Takao Tanabe consider unknowably vast and complex lifeworlds through the practice of abstract painting.

Thinking across shared ecologies, Sun Over Swamp is the first exhibition through which Nanaimo Art Gallery asks the question: How can we work together? 

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Nanaimo Art Gallery is situated in the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of Snuneymuxw First Nations, and we are grateful to operate on Snuneymuxw territory.

ćuý'ulhnamut

ćuý'ulhnamut

Nanaimo Art Gallery is situated in the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of Snuneymuxw First Nations, and we are grateful to operate on Snuneymuxw territory.