The Poetics of Space



The Poetics of Space

October 26, 2018 – January 6, 2019
Opening October 25, 7 pm
Maxwell Bates, Rebecca Belmore, B.C. Binning, Lee Bontecou, Bertram Brooker, Karin Bubaš, Arabella Campbell, Emily Carr, Share Corsaut, Christos Dikeakos, Michael Drebert, Lawren Harris, Owen Kydd, Beatrice Lennie, Landon Mackenzie, Myfanwy MacLeod, Jason McLean, Alex Morrison, Ben Nicholson, James Nizam, Dennis A. Oppenheim, Annie Pootoogook, Pudlo Pudlat, Kyohei Sakaguchi, William Vazan
The Poetics of Space is a touring exhibition from the Vancouver Art Gallery that features historical and contemporary artworks that explore the idea of space from a wide range of perspectives. The exhibition’s title comes from Gaston Bachelard’s 1958 book of the same name that presents an experiential understanding of home and personal environments. In the book Bachelard discusses the way our perceptions of shelter influence the very essence of how we think and imagine. The exhibition is divided into three sections, and features works by twenty-five artists that together contemplate space – through optical perceptions, experiences of the domestic, and the experimental mapping of broader terrain.
The first section, “Fracturing of Form” grounds the exhibition historically, highlighting works from the early to mid 20th century that rethink and ‘fracture’ linear perspective as a tool to understand space on a two-dimensional plane. This section features works by celebrated Canadian painters Emily Carr and Lawren Harris, alongside pieces by outstanding, yet lesser known, artists like Beatrice Lennie and Maxwell Bates.
The following area, “Psychic Weight of the Domestic,” focuses on the intimacy of inhabited structures or other familiar locations to reveal how they are laden with emotional intensity and symbolic meaning. A third section, “Mapping of Space” features works in which artists have defined sites in non-traditional ways, mapping according to their own purposes, or acknowledging its layered socio-cultural histories. Ultimately, the exhibition reveals the expansive and subjective ways in which artists have grappled with depicting and defining space over time. The works included in The Poetics of Space are primarily drawn from the Vancouver Art Gallery’s permanent collection.
Speaking through shared experiences and understandings of the environments that surround us, The Poetics of Space is the fourth exhibition in a year in which Nanaimo Art Gallery asks the question: how can we speak differently? In Hul’q’umi’num, the language of the Snuneymuxw people: scekwul yuxw ‘alu kws nec’s tu sqwal ct
The Poetics of Space is organized and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator Emerita and Emmy Lee Wall, Assistant Curator, Vancouver Art Gallery. This exhibition is part of the Across the Province touring program, which is generously supported by the Killy Foundation.
Image above: Myfanwy MacLeod, Ajar, 2005, chromogenic print, 121.3 x 121.3 cm, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of the Artist
Image front page slideshow: Annie Pootoogook, Listening to the Radio, 2005–06, pencil crayon, ink on paper, 41.6 x 51.0 cm, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of Claudia Beck and Andrew Gruft, Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery
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Circles for Eli 1 - Copy

Artist Talk with Landon Mackenzie

November 3rd, 2018 1-2 pm 
Shaw Auditorium at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre
101 Gordon Street, Nanaimo
As part of The Poetics of Space, we are proud to present a special afternoon lecture with celebrated Vancouver-based painter Landon Mackenzie. Please join us to learn more about her work and process. 
Landon Mackenzie’s paintings have been widely exhibited in Canada and internationally and collected by museums including the National Gallery of Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Recent shows include Emily Carr and Landon Mackenzie; The Wood Chopper and the Monkey at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Landon Mackenzie; Parallel Journey, Works on Paper (1975-2015) a retrospective that toured Canada until 2018. Mackenzie is a professor at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver and has received numerous awards including the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, and the 2017 Governor General Award in Visual and Media Arts. She is represented by Nicholas Metivier Gallery and Art45.
Image: Landon Mackenzie, Forest (Circles for Eli), 2012-2014, synthetic polymer on linen.




Roger Aksadjuak, Shuvinai Ashoona, Pierre Aupilardjuk, Shary Boyle, Jessie Kenalogak, John Kurok, and Leo Napayok

Curated by Shary Boyle in collaboration with Shauna Thompson

Organized and circulated by Esker Foundation, Calgary 
August 3 – October 6, 2018
Join us for the opening reception: Thursday, August 2, 7 pm
Earthlings is a touring exhibition of ceramic sculptures and works on paper created individually and collaboratively by seven contemporary artists working from distinct cultural and geographical positions. Hailing from Kangiqliniq/Rankin Inlet, Kinngait/Cape Dorset, Qamani’tuaq/Baker Lake, and Toronto, the artists in Earthlings share an intuitive and labour-intensive approach to their work with materials and stories. Their sculptures and drawings merge animal and human, reality and myth, actual and imagined spaces.  
The results of creative exchange are present throughout the exhibition. Ceramic masks, pots, and sculptures by Roger Aksadjuak, Pierre Aupilardjuk, Jessie Kenalogak, John Kurok, and Leo Napayok were made at Matchbox Gallery, an Inuit ceramics workshop in Rankin Inlet on the western shore of Hudson’s Bay that encourages collaborative making and learning. Shuvinai Ashoona and Shary Boyle have been working together since 2011, and their shared drawings and sculptures are featured along with individual pieces. In September 2016, Aupilardjuk, Boyle, and  Kurok undertook a month-long residency together at Medalta in the Historic Clay District in Medicine Hat, Alberta to learn from each other, and produce new works. Results of these collective efforts are found in the exhibition. Approached through an ethos of openness, and a desire for mutual learning, Earthlings has been an occasion to build relationships and contexts for exchange, a space for experimental working, and a platform for intra- and inter-cultural dialogues to emerge.
As Shary Boyle explains: “I think of this work, my own included, as “bridge art”; it spans between things, between people, animals, space, and the earth. It spans languages. It spans the real and the unreal. The living and the dead. The past and the future. It is art to communicate, through symbols, myths, dreams, and hybrids. It connects.”
Earthlings has been celebrated in Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal, and we are excited to share this exhibition in Nanaimo at its final stop, and only BC destination. Highlighting art and artmaking as a means to share understandings across languages and cultures, Earthlings is the third exhibition in a year in which Nanaimo Art Gallery asks the question: how can we speak differently? In Hul’q’umi’num, the language of the Snuneymuxw people: scekwul yuxw ‘alu kws nec’s tu sqwal ct 
Image:  Pierre Aupilardjuk and Shary Boyle, Facing Forward, 2016, 34 x 18 x 28 cm, smoke-fired stoneware and hand-painted porcelain. Photo: M.N. Hutchinson
Reception Sponsor:                       CC-Logo Colour H
Earthlings is supported by:       NHA Logo Horizontalcr

Artist Talk with Shary Boyle

October 4 at 7 pm 
Vancouver Island University 
Building 355 (Arts and Sciences), room 203 
Presented in partnership with Vancouver Island University’s Department of Art & Design 
All are welcome, admission free
Shary Boyle lives in Toronto and works across diverse media, including sculpture, drawing, installation, and performance. Collected and exhibited internationally, Boyle represented Canada with her project Music for Silence at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. Boyle's work was included in Ceramix: Art and Ceramics from Rodin to Schutte(2016), organized by the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, and la maison rouge, Paris. In 2017 her sculptures were featured in the Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale, and in the publication Vitamin C: Clay and Ceramic in Contemporary Art (Phaidon, London). Boyle’s first public art commission will be installed this year on the front grounds of the Gardiner Ceramic Museum in Toronto. 

Tour of Earthlings 

Friday, September 28 at 12 pm
In honour of Culture Days, join us for a free lunch-hour tour of Earthlings to learn about the artists and their work.

The Orchids / Had the Look of Flowers That Are Looked At


The Orchids / Had the Look of Flowers That Are Looked At

An exhibition by Arvo Leo
Curated by Jesse Birch and Emma Sise

Join us for the opening reception June 22 at 7 pm
June 23 to July 22, 2018

Each species of orchid has cunningly evolved its appearance, and its fragrance, to attract a specific pollinator to aid in sexual reproduction. Yet somehow they also attract us, and our encounters with them have shaped both botanical and human cultures. In Arvo Leo’s film The Orchids / Had the Look of Flowers That Are Looked At these flowering plants assert their agency in a human-centric world. Plants and films both need light and time to exist, and through stop-motion animation, cyanotype photography, and sculptural installation, orchids spring to life, meddling with the environment they’re constrained to; frolicking, creating, and destroying with self-determination and amusement.

The history of the orchid involves layers of colonialism, economic activity, and cultural beliefs that intersect centuries and continents. Arvo Leo has not only been engaged with these histories, but also with the everyday relationships between orchids and people, tending daily to the orchids in his studio, and actively participating as a member of the Nederlandse Orchideeën Vereniging (Dutch Orchid Society). Leo has also made connections in Nanaimo, and throughout the exhibition, living orchids will be in the foyer of the gallery through a special collaboration between the artist and the Central Vancouver Island Orchid Society.

Speaking of and with these wild domestic plants, The Orchids is the second exhibition in a year in which Nanaimo Art Gallery asks the question: How can we speak differently? through exhibitions, educational programs and off-site events. For The Orchids, we also present a series of public events called The Surroundings, which includes a poetry reading at Buttertubs Marsh, and a film screening at Bowen Park.   

Arvo Leo grew up in Roberts Creek, BC, and carries a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, and an MFA from the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. He is currently enrolled as artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Leo is also one of five artists from the West Coast and Yukon to be longlisted for the 2018 Sobey Art Award.

Emma Sise's curatorial internship at Nanaimo Art Gallery is funded by an Early Career Development grant through the British Columbia Arts Council.

Image: Arvo Leo, Vanda Orchid With Knives, 2018, digital photograph 

The Orchids Exhibition Guide

Gallery Tours

Saturday, June 23, 2 pm, FREE

Join us for a personal and engaged tour of The Orchids / Had the Look of Flowers That Are Looked At with artist Arvo Leo.

Tuesday, July 3, 12 to 1 pm, FREE

Join Gallery staff over the lunch hour for a discussion based tour. 


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Nanaimo, British Columbia

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