February 14, 2016
VISA Newsletter

Copying art can be a good thing

Bridget Riley is one of the most renowned British painters of the 20th century. Riley's artistic trajectory began when she copied a painting by Seurat (see image on right). She was intrigued by Seurat's idea of using a "system" to depict perceptual sensations. He invented what is now referred to as "Pointilism", to portray the ephemeral components of nature, such as the way light and colour reflect on a surface. Riley's painting is not an exact copy of Seurat's, but rather an analysis of his structure and form. A recent exhibition at the Courtauld Institute of Art focuses on the relationship between her work and Seurat's: Learning from Seurat. As you can see  by the black and white image (below right), eventually Riley translated Seurat's dots or dabs of colors, into something more definitive and structured: triangles.

The look of Seurat's paintings and his process, are obviously significantly different from Riley's, but you can see traces of similar paths of investigation. They are both concerned with the idea of perception and how the artist gives the viewer a role that requires some visual effort to discern what is happening on the surface. Things are not quite as they appear. Seurat's dots merge together to create new colours; Riley's work makes you question what you are looking at terms of a flat, yet very kinetic and vibrating surface. The visual system Riley used in the triangle painting on the left is that every triangle is the same on two sides, but in some of the triangles she has introduced a curve on the third side. This simple aberration in structure creates a sensation of undulating movement throughout the surface. While seeming like pure abstraction, many of Riley's paintings are an attempt to capture experiences one has with light and movement in the natural world.

Listening to Adrian Searle discuss on of Riley's circle wall drawings, one could almost imagine he is discussing a piece by Seurat. Seurat was not the only artist that inspired Riley. Here, Andrew Graham-Dixon discusses Riley's relationship to artists of the past in an exhibition at the National Gallery. And here, Riley talks with Waldemar Januszczak about one of her favourite Seurat paintings at The National Gallery.

Riley in a recent lecture gives a generous overview of her art career starting from figurative drawings to her more recent work: Bridget Riley, Tate Modern. An older documentary  focusses on the new ideas that Riley brought to the art world in the 1960s, such as the depiction of the energy of light and colour and how to use paint to translate these real world sensations. The tone of this documentary is somewhat melodramatic, as revealed by this excerpt: "You can't force colour into a pattern, it doesn't have its own identity of shape or form or outline. Colour does not have direction. It obliterates structure, eats it up, destroys it, because its energy spreads, radiates, hovers, like a presence in space." It is definitely worth making your way through this documentary which has been divided into three parts on YouTube.

Like many contemporary artists who are making new discoveries, Riley's work is deeply indebted to art history and her experience with getting to know one artist really well (Seurat). Her understanding of Seurat was deepened by the fact she took the time to really study the work by copying. Knowing Riley's relationship to Seurat gives a new light on her coloured striped paintings and one sees them as a further abstracting of the ideas that Seurat began over 100 years ago.

Wendy Welch
Executive Director
Vancouver Island School of Art

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Monday Feb 15 is last day to submit images for this "call for entries". Submissions will be accepted until midnight.  Send your image today to info@slideroomgallery.com

This Friday! Don't miss the fun!

Come join us for our weekly drop-in drawing sessions!

Alex MacKenzie:"Convolution" FLUX gallery

MediaNet's Flux Media Art Gallery Presents "Convolution," a new experimental film installation by Vancouver artist Alex MacKenzie.

 "Largely inspired by early approaches and experiments in stereo imaging, these works seek to dismantle cinematic codes-both economic and visual-while foregrounding projector and light as sculpture; a conscious and playful corruption of apparatus to open up a conversation about the viewing experience, reshaping representation and narrative into a realm of abstraction, materiality and space. Repurposing 16mm projectors and film to engage aspects of binocular disparity, focus, perspective, and patterning proposes a reconfiguring of, and inquiry into, the conventions of cinema and the projected image."  Alex MacKenzie

The exhibition runs until February 20. 

FLUX, located at 510 Fort Street, second floor, is open Tues to Sat, noon to 5 pm.

Sandra Meigs at Winchester Galleries until Feb 27 
    In "What Is the Mind of the Mystic?" a certain strangeness encompasses me, but at the same time, a familiarity.The colours are dense, opaque, and undersaturated, as if they are brewing, soon to be released in a glow. When in my mystic mind, the veil of illusion between everything and me is lifted. The words as they attach to illusions are removed. When I paint I fall into the form experientially, as if my body were a speck inside the painted space. What would it be like to whirl around inside? Would this form give me an answer, or a wink, or a squeeze? In my mystical mind there is nothing and there is everything. Time exceeds space. Space is infinitely immense. All matter vibrates with the energy of space." 
    Sandra Meigs

    In 2015 Meigs received a Governor Generals Award in Visual Art and the Gershon Iskowitz Prize in Visual Art. Her work has been shown in close to 100 exhibitions across Canada, including solo exhibits at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; The Power Plant, Toronto; the Saidye Bronfman Centre and the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Montréal. Internationally, her works have been shown at the Bologna Biennale, the Sydney Biennale, and the Fodor Museum, Amsterdam, among others.

Winchester Galleries are located at 2260 Oak Bay Ave

hide in plain sight:
Lance Olsen and James Lindsay at Deluge Contemporary Art
until Feb 27    

The exhibition is the result of the independent investigations of each while operating as a kind of interrogatory of each other. Contemporaries who have evolved highly developed visual languages through five decades of continuous artistic activity and experimentation with abstraction, both share a deep and venerable connection to Victoria: Olsen as a longtime denizen of James Bay and Lindsay as one of the original artists to base themselves in Chinatown.

Deluge is located at 636 Yates 

Find out about all of the wonderful arts and culture activities Victoria. Arts Victoria is a great resource for all the latest arts-related events in Victoria.

Certificate of Visual Arts at VISA = 1st year of Bachelor in Arts at the Vancouver Island University
As of 2015, Certificate of Visual Arts = 1st year of Bachelor in Arts, Major in Fine Arts Degree at the Vancouver Island University.
Diploma of Fine Arts at VISA transferable to University of Gloucestershire, UK
Diploma of Fine Arts + 8 months at the University of Gloucestershire = BA in Fine Art.
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