For additional examples, please see all Canadian reviews since 1989 at Preview of the Visual Arts.

Edward Burtynsky: Uneasy Beauty – Photographs of Western Canada
Surrey Art Gallery
Surrey BC – Jan 17–Mar 22, 2009

Edward Burtynsky is a Canadian photographer of global significance. His cinematic colour photographs are fascinating both for ecological reasons and for the staggering wealth of visual detail they capture. In various series, he has portrayed ship-breaking yards, urban mines, quarries, industrial refineries and changes to the landscape.

Images from Burtynsky’s Manufactured Landscapes series document landscapes altered by industrial forces both in British Columbia and across Canada. His photographs, taken on extensive tours across the country, compel viewers to experience awe in “the industrial mastery of nature”. They depict mining, oil exploration, and cuts made in mountains for railways, and demonstrate on a massive scale what he describes as the “reciprocal” to cities, skyscrapers, highways and industrial parks.

Burtynsky was born in St. Catharines, Ontario in 1955 and earned a BA in Photographic Arts from Ryerson Polytechnical University, Toronto. In 2004 he was awarded the prestigious TED Prize, which honours individuals who have raised global awareness. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in August 2006. Burtynsky’s photographs are included in the collections of such major galleries as the Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, National Gallery of Canada, Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, and the V&A in London.


Antonia Hirsch: Anthropometrics
Republic Gallery
Vancouver BC – Apr 24-May 28, 2009

German-born artist Antonia Hirsch is known for conceptual pieces that examine our mental models of the world (via maps, for example) and our beliefs about units of measurement. Her work is neither scientific nor commercial, although she adopts the visual language of both.

For Anthropometrics, she sought to catalogue the informal yet conventional gestures we make with our hands, arms and bodies to indicate the size or length of various measurements. The suite of life-size colour photographs in Volume I was reproduced as six screen-printed posters. They appeared across Vancouver in official and unofficial locations over a period of three months in n2006. Posters in the windows of the Vancouver Public Library emphasized notions of public ownership, free speech and assembly.

Hirsch has lived in Canada since 1994. Since 1997, she has participated in numerous group exhibitions from London, Glasgow and Lisbon to Germany, Turkey and Taiwan, and she has had residencies in Banff, Winnipeg, Finland, Paris and Berlin. Her works are in the collections of such institutions as the Art Bank, Ottawa; Vancouver Art Gallery; New York Public Library; Yale University Collection of Rare Books; V&A National Art Library; and the Tate Galley Library.


Robert Morris: The Birthday Boy
Simon Fraser University Gallery
Burnaby BC – Mar 29-May 3, 2008

The Birthday Boy is a two-screen projection of lectures presented by two fictitious “art historians” – one male, one female – on the topic of Michaelangelo’s David. In response to the critical commentary of each narrator, “David’s” appearance changes on each screen. Simultaneously extremely funny and acerbic, the videos examine the complex and gendered relationship between a work of art and critical commentary.

Morris created The Birthday Boy for the Galleria dell’ Accademia, Florence for David’s 500-year anniversary in 2004. It was subsequently shown at the Louvre in 2007. The piece expands on the kinds of theoretical concerns Morris commonly addresses in his artwork — the nature of perception, concepts of materiality, use of space and the process of artmaking. It also extends his work since the early 1960s with notions of replication, photo-montage and lip-synching.

Robert Morris was born in 1931 and is one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century. A pioneer of minimalist sculpture, process art and earthworks, Morris has also produced dance and performance pieces, prints, paintings, drawings, videos, films and installations, and worked with such diverse materials as plywood, felt, dirt, aluminum, mirrors, steel mesh, fibreglass, and encaustic. Currently he divides his time between teaching at Hunter College, New York and making art in his upstate New York studio.


David Hoffos: Scenes from the House Dream
Southern Alberta Art Gallery
Lethbridge AB – Through Nov. 20, 2008
Esplanade Art Gallery
Medicine Hat AB – Through Nov. 30, 2008

Scenes from the House Dream is a masterpiece of multimedia by Lethbridge-based artist David Hoffos. The piece has been the focus of his art production for the past five years and now includes 25 dream scenes.

Hoffos’s mesmerizing work employs such theatre-based features as stage curtains and lighting effects; interior rooms with avant-garde furniture; exterior views of cityscapes at night; and spacecraft at night. His two-dimensional people and props appear to be taken from photos or video stills combined with 3-D animation and video effects. Figures are indistinct, almost existential in presentation, and often exhibit symbolic gestures and bizarre dancing.

Scenes from the House Dream, curated by Shirley Madill, is organized and circulated by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in partnership with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. Because of the nature of Hoffos’ work, a limited number of people are permitted in each gallery space at a given time.

A concurrent show entitled Disaster and Desire is on exhibit at the Esplanade Art Gallery, Medicine Hat, October 14 to November 30, 2008. Two companion pieces, Catastrophe and Another City, combine motifs and devices from disaster films and television shows with personal themes to create participatory environments where the underlying subject is one of illusion.


Liz Magor: The Mouth and Other Storage Facilities
East Gallery, Henry Gallery
Seattle WA – through Dec 14, 2008
Simon Fraser University Gallery
Jan 10–Feb 21, 2009

The Mouth and Other Storage Facilities consists of a group of recent work by Vancouver artist Liz Magor. Magor combines such real objects as food trays and clothing with cast sculptures of “culturally loaded” items like cigarettes, liquor, and candy. Together with the bodies of small animals (a raccoon and a mouse), they form startling accretions. The montages continue Magor’s practice of investigation into issues of authenticity and representation. They also demonstrate her skill in using sculpture as a way to “confound the boundaries” between the real and the imagined.

Throughout her career, Magor has explored the relationship of the real to the simulated in numerous provocative ways. Her work has used concepts of wilderness to examine themes of refuge, domesticity, survivalism, consumption, and the dilemma of finding identity in modern society.

For more than 30 years, Liz Magor has exhibited internationally in such prestigious exhibitions as the Venice Biennale, the Sydney Biennale, and Documenta. In 2001 she was awarded the Governor General’s Visual and Media Arts award. She has taught at a number of institutions across Canada, including the University of British Columbia, the Ontario College of Art and Design, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. She currently lives and works in British Columbia. Liz Magor: The Mouth and other storage facilities is organized by Henry Associate Curator Sara Krajewski and Simon Fraser University Gallery director Bill Jeffries.