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Elusive Utopia

Elusive Utopia

Elusive Utopia
February 3 – May 7, 2017

Ian McLean, Matthew Carver, Renée Van Halm, and Kevin Yates

How might we begin to examine the connections between subjects, spaces, and power, between our utopian yearning for better places and the practical realities of our built environment?1

Elusive Utopia presents four artists who collectively explore the built environment, questioning how it simultaneously governs us while reflecting our deepest desires. Oscillating between aesthetically beautiful art work and gnawing economic and social questions, particularly in light of the growing divide between the ‘haves and the have-nots’, the exhibition blurs the line between home and work space as a site of comfort and production, and as a site of unease.

The yearning for the utopic dream home is palpable in the paintings of Ian McLean. The brilliant colour and boldly painted renditions of suburban homes with their manicured lawns, perfect pools, and fences holding the natural world at bay, pushes the viewer to consider questions about how “social status and power are closely linked to spatial dominance.”Similarly, the visceral paintings of Matthew Carver draw the viewer in, then shift from beautiful to foreboding as the state of the social, economic, and political landscape is slowly revealed. Whether tracing the unease and sense of dislocation experienced in the sculptures of Kevin Yates, or, as in the paintings of Renée Van Halm which present allegorical rather than representational explorations of the built environment, the exhibition directly challenges a dispassionate relationship between the world and the built environment.

Margaret E. Farrar, “Making Space for Power” in Building the Body Politic: Power and Urban Space in Washington, D.C. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008) 20.

Leslie Weisman, “Public Architecture and Social Status,” in Discrimination by Design (Urban and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 24.

First Friday Opening
Friday, February 3

Members Opening Reception
Friday, February 3

From Left to Right:
Kevin Yates | 11th Street (2/2), 2009 | Bronze, painted wood | 32 x 24 x 21 cm
Ian McLean | Filtration Chamber, 2011 | Oil on canvas | 127 x 127 cm
Renée Van Halm | Scandinavian Interior, 2009 | Acrylic on linen | 119 x 160 cm
Matthew Carver | No Sign of the Kesselmans upriver from Festspielhaus, 2014 | Acrylic on canvas | 200 x 300 cm

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