Going to the Wanda Koop survey at the National Gallery last month--an experience I recommend--the relative brevity of my time in the art world, and my limitation to certain art centres during that time, came to the fore. I had only ever seen Koop's paintings in Toronto dealer shows, really, and they were all fairly small--four feet at the widest, I'd say. So it was a shock for me to go into the galleries in Ottawa and see what Koop's main production has been over the past 30 years: massive, eight-foot-wide-and-wider canvases.
I talk about that experience of surprise today in the National Post. The article also covers some of the wonderful childhood artifacts Koop has in the exhibition, like a mod dollhouse she made for herself as a young teenager.
Here's an excerpt from the article:
Asked about this size surprise, Koop explains that those smaller works are "almost like residue" left over from her central, three-decade-long practice of making gigantic canvases and installations.
"For me, it's about intimacy," she says. "I think that the paintings [here] are to my scale. I start with really tiny notes and work up to something that I feel will involve the viewer -that the viewer looks at as an actual physical experience."
And yet, Koop is also eager to show off some of the more humble origins of her oeuvre, like a tiny cardboard dollhouse outfitted with miniscule orange shag carpets and inch-long Jackson Pollock- style paintings.
"This is a little house I made when I was 13 years old," says Koop, now 59. "It was called Roundhouse for One. It was my dream home. I grew up in a large family, and I'd just keep it under my bed and slide it out when I needed to go somewhere else."
That tiny teenage fantasia is one of hundreds of sketches, books, maquettes and photographs that cluster in what the gallery calls the survey's "studio room" -though Koop says, "I think of it more as my brain." In it are piles of split-second Post-it note drawings and tomes such as The Eye: A Natural History by Simon Ings.
Read on at the Post for more peeks at the show.
I'm sorry I didn't see the premiere of this show at the Winnipeg Art Gallery--Koop told me some kids from Art City, the youth-arts nonprofit that she founded, made a great mural for the show as well, unreproduced in the Ottawa exhibition.
(Image of Wanda Koop from Site Media Inc, which has recently released a beautifully shot documentary on the artist, KOOP)
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Posted by Leah Sandals at 8:15 AM