Exhibition Reviews

Brian Jungen at Catriona Jeffries

I knew it had been awhile since I posted on this blog, but The Gam Gallery has now been open for a year and I can’t believe that much time has all ready passed. As my posting seems to be so wildly erratic, I have pared down the site design to keep it simple.  I make no promises to post more regularly, as I often seem to be too busy for my own good anyway.

There have been some good shows happening lately in Vancouver that I can start with, even if some of them are over.

The first is (was) Brian Jungen at Catriona Jeffries, in which the artist set up a ‘workshop’ in the gallery over the duration of the exhibition to create works in progress for the public to view.  I saw the exhibition in its final week, after the works were finished, although the smaller of the two exhibition spaces in the gallery contained works not-for-sale, and not considered as art by Jungen.  This is an interesting juxtaposition with the sawhorse pile in the first space, which is reminiscent of the workshop that was created in the gallery.  These sawhorses however, are considered finished works and showed no signs of being ‘worked on’ on their surface.  I’m curious to see which pieces will go on to Ontario, where the new works are due to be exhibited next (at the AGO?).

The two large mixed media sculptures are what really stood out in my mind in the exhibition, which are reflective of Jungen’s new direction (according to Jeffries).  Similarly to his Prototypes, these works are a form of bricolage and have a certain hybridity to them in their mixing of commercial goods with First Nations imagery.  They include hides from Jungen’s home and are dedicated to his mother and father, therefore making them much more immediately personal than some of his earlier work, which were more focused on commodity fetishism.  The hides are stretched over car hoods and mounted like sails atop of white deep-freezes (one of which, coincidentally, was a ‘gallery’ edition).

The car hoods instantly reminded me of Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’ Coppers from the Hood, though to a different effect.  While Yahgulanaas’ car hoods are polished objects that are recognizable in and of themselves as a sort of visual pun, Jungen’s are more obscured and rough, their final form containing shifting referents.  I found the works to be poetic and somewhat sentimental in their bricolage of objects, and definitely more ephemeral in quality than some of his earlier work.


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