Art that delights in repetition and addresses the rise of mass media culture is featured in the winter exhibitions of the Surrey Art Gallery.
Opening Saturday January 22 is the exhibition “P.Mansaram: the medium is the medium is the medium” focused on five decades of the late artist’s work, and also “On air,“a showcase of works from the gallery’s permanent collection that illustrate“ how the media works to shape our worldviews – for better or for worse. ”Admission to the gallery is free.
Organized by Rhys Edwards, “On Air” revolves around an interactive installation by the late media artist Nancy Paterson, who died in 2018. Entitled “Garden in the Machine”, the work invites visitors to pull a lever on a slot machine style device. which manipulates the images displayed on a series of nearby monitors.
“Each monitor goes through a series of TV clips from news programs, cartoons, game shows, religious programs, commercials and more,” according to an event notice. “Each time the lever is pulled, the resulting display is randomized, producing 729 different possible combinations of images.”
Although developed in 1993, Paterson’s installation is “timeless in its distillation of popular television culture.” By presenting visitors with random combinations of footage varying in tone from light comedy to serious reporting, Paterson anticipated the rise of the Internet and the now endless flow of content available to consumers. In places like Twitter feeds, Instagram’s “Explore” tab, or TikTok’s “For You” page, browsers can access an endless stream of terrifying and titillating posts. “
Also on display are “key selections” from SAG’s permanent collection, “many of which, like Paterson’s artwork, have never been exhibited before.” The works include an unusual double-sided print by 1970s video and media artist Michael de Courcy, photographs of the West Edmonton Mall by Vikky Alexander, and a colorful silkscreen print by Robert Davidson.
Meanwhile, Mansaram’s work is featured in a traveling exhibition curated by Indu Vashist and Toleen Touq, both with Ontario’s South Asian Visual Arts Center (SAVAC). The art exhibit was originally shown at the Justina Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto Art Museum in 2019 and later at the Burlington Art Gallery in 2020.
For Panchal Mansaram, born in India, died in 2020 in Burlington, Ontario., at 86, “rehearsal was an artistic practice, rehearsal was meditation, rehearsal was spirituality, rehearsal fell in love, and as he said, rehearsal was a way to find God,” explains an event notice .
“Yet despite all this interest in repetition, Mansaram’s work is never repetitive. Figures and symbols appear and reappear in different spaces and configurations. Text and image play on each other. (The exhibition) shows how the artist used recurrence and reproduction through a variety of mediums. Visitors will see drawings, paintings, collages, texts, sculptures, xeroxes, silkscreens and films spanning more than five decades of the artist’s prolific career.
An opening event for the exhibition on January 22 has been canceled. Stay tuned for more details on a virtual rally.
For viewing of the winter exhibitions, the gallery is open for walk-in tours from January 22 to March 20, Tuesday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Also on display at the Surrey Art Gallery is “The joy of photographic printing”, until February 13. The exhibition focuses on the alternative and traditional photography techniques of The Darkroom Group, whose members celebrate the slower, more labor-intensive methods used to traditionally produce photographic art.
SAG also currently offers a two-channel video installation called “Naufragios”, by Manuel Piña. On display until March 20, the installation (in Spanish for “shipwreck”) captures the artist’s concerns about utopia, migration and space.
New to the main entrance to the gallery is the window mural “Echoes”, by Richmond-based artist Atheana Picha. The artwork “celebrates the cultural significance of the Coast Salish mountain goat horn bracelets and the importance the animal has to the people of this land.”
The bracelets “have an elegant design that never fails to inspire me and other Salish artists,” Picha notes. “The bracelets show me that my ancestors took the time to design the utilitarian objects in their lives, but also created work in an effort to create something beautiful for themselves or for a loved one. These pieces inspire me to take the time to create work that can work as something that can speak to my ancestors, but also my ancestors ‘and mentors’ dedication to visual design language.
Located at 13750 88 Ave. (Bear Creek Park), SAG is online at surrey.ca/art gallery, or dial 604-501-5566.