Confronting Intersections

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Ian Wallace: At the Intersection of Painting and Photography.

           Vancouver Art Gallery. 

A friend and I spent some time with this exhibition last week and found it very interesting, though we discussed the fact that we used the word “interesting” since that word has developed a somewhat negative connotation. However, in this case, we did find that the exhibition piqued our interest. I can’t say that I necessarily liked everything I saw, but the works did give me quite a lot of pause for thought.

On first seeing the Poverty series at a distance, I felt the images had been posed. I discovered they had been. I liked the resonance of late nineteenth early twentieth century photography.  The Lookout works I found a little alienating. The figures are in the landscape but not part of it. Similarly, the figures in Crosswalk seem to be in but not part of their environment. I suspect this alienation is intentional. My overall impression of the oeuvre was that Wallace is a very cerebral even academic artist. My friend and I commented to each other that it felt as though Wallace was much influenced by the work of Roland Barthes, and we felt rather smug when we discovered that was indeed the case. 

Overall, I think I found the exhibition a little disconcerting, the fusion and juxtaposition of paint and photographic media no longer unusual but still slightly disturbing. I took away with me a sense of flatness, of smooth surfaces, flat blocks of colour, sometimesDSCN1396 - Version 3 almost expressionless faces looking past me, of things waiting to be used, of images repeated, of a sense that when things intersect they move on past each other: the meeting is momentary even if the image is fixed.    

The exhibition ends on 24 February 2013.   

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