June 20th, 2024

Trio of new exhibits grace the SAAG

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 15, 2022.

Herald photo by Ry Clarke Local artist Dagmar Dahle works away at her large-scale painting on the gallery wall that will take shape over the course of her exhibit, Wednesday at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

The Southern Alberta Art Gallery is welcoming guests to check out its three new exhibits currently on display until Feb. 11.

The Faceless Familiar presents a collection of artists tapping into the broader feelings of unrest in the hidden portions of the psyche, using mediums of collage, animation, ceramics, painting, drawing, and sculpture. Tangled, by Dagmar Dahle, assembles 14 years’ worth of the Lethbridge-based artists’ line drawings through automatic drawing. And Desiderium, by Raneece Buddan, combines Nigerian and Indian methods for ceramics and block printing.

“The three exhibitions opened in the first week of December,” said Adam Whitford, interim curator at SAAG. “Faceless Familiar, is a group exhibition featuring the works of Barry Doupé, Nick Sikkuark, Kasia Sosnowski, Alison Yip, and Elizabeth Zvonar. It looks at how each artist in their own medium distorts the portrait or the body and is looking at a body metamorphosis. Some surreal, absurd humorous leanings.”

Looking to bring new experiences to the audience, the Faceless exhibit adds different levels of emotion for those viewing it.

“I wanted something that was humorous and absurd. There are a lot of artists that I looked at, who had this playful and weird style that wasn’t staid and starchy,” said Whitford. “Nothing is really fixed, our psyches, our mental states, our emotions, and our bodies are always changing. I think that is reflected in the artworks and the social situations, spiritual experiences, can change how we perceive the body, whether it is ours or someone else’s.”

Guests who suffer from mental blocks or the feeling of not knowing what to create will enjoy Dahle’s Tangled exhibit on the upper floor.

“It follows this series of her work of these automatic drawings without any preordained result,” said Whitford. “I like the pairing of these exhibitions (Faceless and Tangled), because Dagmar is looking at mental states, she started this series from a place of mental burnout and a way to deal with that.”

Dahle will be painting a large-scale painting on the gallery wall during the course of the exhibit, painting to audiences on Jan. 7 at 1 p.m. along with an unveiling on Feb. 4 at 1 p.m.

“This wall piece is an attempt to do a version of the smaller works on display,” said Dahle. “The premise of the smaller works is that I go into them without preconception, that I don’t know what I am going to do till I do it. We are not working from our analytical mind, we are working from an intuitive sense.”

Buddan’s Desiderium looks to create connections with lost ancestry, showcasing the artists’ re-establishment of their heritage through ceramics, textiles, and weaving practices from Nigeria, Ghana, and India.

“Desiderium means a strong longing for something that was lost. Raneece has done a lot of research and material research and practice as a way of reconnecting with an ancestral knowledge that she has lost,” said Whitford.

Hoping to give audiences an entertaining experience, SAAG’s current exhibits explore themes of body, mind, and history while provoking discussions that arise from a trip to the gallery.

“I hope that there is something that everyone likes,” said Whitford. “Or maybe something that is also challenging or off putting. Maybe even something that they don’t like. Then trying to look into that a bit more and what it is they don’t like about it. I think the gallery is always a place to challenge and push on that a little bit.”

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