Taipei Fine Arts Museum: Vancouver Perspectives (1997)

Review of exhibition including work by Vikky Alexander, Lorna Brown, Kati Campbell, Allyson Clay, Monique Fouquet, Lucy Hogg, Landon Mackenzie, Elspeth Pratt, Anne Ramsden, Renee Van Halm, Jin-Me Yoon and Sharyn Yeun.

R.J. Preece
artdesigncafé - art | 15 September 2009
This review first appeared in Asian Art News, 7(5), page 105-06 in 1997.
Vancouver perspectives—12 women artists, first shown in Yokohama in 1996 as a sister city exchange, offers a diverse range of 2-D and 3-D work, and functions as a cultural and artistic dialogue between four of the artists, the curator, Greg Bellerby, and a cross-section of the Taipei art community. The show presents work by Vikky Alexander, Lorna Brown, Kati Campbell, Allyson Clay, Monique Fouquet, Lucy Hogg, Landon Mackenzie, Elspeth Pratt, Anne Ramsden, Renee Van Halm, Jin-Me Yoon and Sharyn Yeun. A variety of issues are addressed: identity, urban and domestic environments, Western art history and culture, personal histories, and the relationships between language, landscape, and place.

In I sing as if no one can hear me (Saskatchewan) (1993), Landon Mackenzie combines different ways of experiencing a place, here Saskatchewan, and explores landscape relationships by layering texts and forms in her abstract painting. She draws upon her archival research, bus trips, flying over and traveling around Saskatchewan and explorations across space, time, and histories, encouraging the viewer to experience the work both from afar and close-up to get lost in the details.

In her installation Mer (1995) , Lorna Brown draws attention to the historical use of sonar technology, first for the military and then for medical purposes. As a symbol of man’s quest for greater knowledge, she re-presents the sometimes problematic use of technology and its affects on the individual, and here, women.

In Speculation (1996), Renee Van Halm presents five round oil paintings of different colors from the spectrum depicting hair. Taking considerably enlarged photocopies of hair from fashion magazines, Van Halm uses this as the basis for her paintings. To further encourage our own speculation, she places a round mirror on each painting in different positions for variety, which later becomes about height, particularly within an Asian context. Renee Van Halm displays obsession constructed through the kinds of magazines teenage girls read, as well as concerns about the aging process, while showing an interest in pattern and abstraction and how this can come directly from representation.

In an earlier work entitled Lucky me (1992), Elspeth Pratt presents a bittersweet relief demonstrating her interest in architectural spaces—here the casino. With galvanized steel and green felt, she refers to a roulette table, a billiard table, and also suggests the shape of a painting gesture. Through these references, she addresses the issue of the Canadian government’s practice of funneling some of its legalized gambling proceeds into the art community. She also demonstrates her concern with using very common building materials presented in a rough way, thus relaying a sense of frailty and constructing a tenuous relationship to the wall.

Addressing the issue of identity, Jin-Me Yoon presents color photographs of Korean Canadians, first facing us in front of a mountain landscape, and second, looking into a forest with native artifacts—works by famous Canadian painters. Using these photographs, arranged in a grid-like manner, she documents the current ethnic diversity in Vancouver and certain parts of Canada, and more specifically the issue of Korean-Canadian and Asian-Canadian identity.