The notion of paradox provides an apt means of curating an exhibit by seven divergent artists—thus the title of the Department of Visual Arts group exhibit, Paradox, opening October 31at UVic’s Legacy Art Galleries Downtown. Despite their widely varying practices, the permanent Visual Arts teaching faculty share fundamental interests in the contradictory nature of our very physical and psychic experiences in, and of, the world around us.
Curated by Legacy Art Galleries director Mary Jo Hughes, Paradox presents new and recent work by seven faculty members: Vikky Alexander, Lynda Gammon, Daniel Laskarin, Sandra Meigs, Jennifer Stillwell, Paul Walde and Robert Youds. All are mid-career and senior artists with national and international careers. Each artist will be represented by work characteristic of current practice relating to the theme of the paradox implicit in our experience of art.
It has been nearly 35 years since the Legacy Art Galleries curated a Visual Arts faculty exhibition. Paradox aims to bring wider understanding to the particular strengths of this nationally acclaimed academic program, which is rooted in explorations of phenomenology and in the perceptual, conceptual, and interactive contexts of contemporary visual art. It also comes on the heels of the recent Department of Visual Arts retrospective exhibit, Core Samples.
“The work produced by the faculty here reflects leading practices in the field of contemporary visual arts,” says current department chair Daniel Laskarin. “Embodying current discourses in material and visual culture, it is profoundly engaged with experiential communication in current practices.”
Indeed, the Visual Arts faculty are represented by some of Canada’s leading contemporary galleries, and many of them have work in the permanent collections of the National Gallery and other senior-level public institutions, as well as commissions in the likes of Vancouver, Toronto and Winnipeg, and pieces held in well-respected art collections around the globe.
But while they may show individually in town from time to time—such as Laskarin’s 2011 AGGV retrospective Agnostic Objects, or Youds’ 2012 Deluge exhibit Room upgrade for Pacific Northwest afternoon—for the most part, the faculty members tend to exhibit nationally and worldwide. Other than the week-long Now Art summer exhibit which was only mounted for UVic’s Congress 2013, it’s not since 1979 that the teaching faculty has shared a gallery together.
As Dr. Sarah Blackstone, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, notes in her introduction to the Paradox exhibit catalogue, “The department [of Visual Arts] has a long-standing reputation for training generations of successful Canadian visual artists. . . . Students are inspired by the accomplishments and investigations of their teachers, and faculty are inspired by the fresh ideas and questions of their students. . . . The breadth and depth of expertise and inquiry obvious in this exhibition clearly demonstrate the validity of visual arts as an academic discipline.”
Paradox runs October 31 to January 12, 2014 at Legacy Art Galleries Downtown, 630 Yates Street. Opening reception is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 1. (And, on a side note, Sandra Meigs is having a concurrent solo exhibit at Open Space; The Basement Panoramas runs November 1 to December 14.)