Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Exhibition: UBC Fine Arts Gallery 1971

bill bissett, Christos Dikeakos, Gilles Foisy, Gary Lee Nova
Al Neil, Terry Reid, Gregg Simpson, Ed Varney, davis uu, Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace,
Michael Morris and Vincent Trasov.

Review by Richard Simmins in the Vancouver Sun

A little known fact about today's so-called Vancouver School of photo-based conceptualism is that the original exhibition at UBC, which used this term first, also included several other artists who were not part of any academic coterie. This was a time when the battle lines hadn't yet been drawn between the different groups in Vancouver's developing avant garde art scene, which led Vancouver Province reviewer,
Joan Lowndes, to write: "As though through some time-warp surrealism has returned, along with alchemical visions, pop, eroticism, political satire and protest in the free-wheeling spirit of the West Coast".

What is amazing is that five of the six artists in the Canadian West Coast Hermetics exhibition, which was also launched from the UBC Fine Arts Gallery to tour Europe and eastern Canada in 1973-'74, were also in this show. However, following the mid-1970's the photo-conceptualists in this exhibition began an un-precedented, but well documented, collusion with the Vancouver Art Gallery to promote the idea that theirs was the only artistic movement that Vancouver would be known for. Protests over this were met with threats of defamation lawsuits.

With a dismissive attitude, they advocated exluding all traces of West Coast Surrealism from not only the VAG' s collection, but any further exhibitions, discussions, historical surveys, or publications at the gallery in the future. Serious critical  attention did keep coming for the surrealists in the exhibition, but it was almost all from Ontario, or Quebec, and even more so from Europe and Latin America.

Thus the "free-wheeling spirit of the West Coast" demonstrated in this exhibition in 1971 was buried in the mid-1970's by an unprecedented cronyism, characterised by a desire to keep out any other group of artists with a different philosophy from the inner circle of the Vancouver art scene. 
The main point is that by using a publically funded gallery for the sole advancement of their own careers, the so-called Vancouver School of today made a once open minded public gallery into their private club with no inclination to return to the 'free wheeling spirit of the West Coast."

One can only surmise what things would have been like if fairness and objectivity had prevailed instead.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

I can recommend the Rouges-en-Verts Atelier and Gallery as a great place to get some serious painting done. During April and May of 2013 I produced fifteen canvases and numerous works on paper. Art Materials are available in nearby Alencon, or at the Bricollage in l'Aigle, where you can catch a train to Paris.

The series is called Perche Mode and it reflects the light of this beautiful region of Normandy.

The studio where I completed a group of work begun in 2012 and the spacious gallery where
I exhibited both paintings and works on paper from 2008-2013.