As It Is at Wil Aballe Art Projects
Opening night featuring six artists bursts the seams of this tiny gallery space
Words by Celesse McCarthy
Photos of opening night by Ash Tanasiychuk
Photos of art provided by Wil Aballe
As I approach the buzzer for The Artiste live-work studios on Scotia St, I see a woman standing there, perplexed. I, for some bizarre reason, am not prepared to engage. Perhaps it’s the heat that’s recently landed uncharacteristically on Vancouver.
Luckily, she strikes the conversation: “You here for the art opening?”
“Yes,” I reply.
I punch in the number and after a few beeps, a man’s voice answers, “Hello?”
I respond, “Yeah. We’re here for the art opening.”
He says, “Come on up, 528.”
The door buzzes and I enter. Up an elevator, down a hall, to find 528, where I’m brought into the small, tight entrance of Wil Aballe Art Projects, affectionately known as WAAP.
WAAP is a new player in Vancouver’s art scene. Since opening January 2013, four previous exhibitions have been held here, as well as a couple print launches. As mentioned on WAAP’s website, the gallery is “dedicated to fostering a new generation of young collectors in Vancouver, primarily through publishing affordable editions by critically acclaimed artists.”
Proprietor and curator Wil Aballe is exuberant and welcoming. There are already approximately 15 people moving about the small, 300 sq. ft studio gallery. It seems hotter inside the studio than it is outside, which is surprising, seeing as I had already been sweating on my walk down to The Artiste. Now, I am beading sweat. This is accentuated only by the passive neutral tones of the observers – I have become a stain on this canvas.
There’s a telephone ring. Wil answers the phone and buzzes another group of viewers to the fifth floor. Wil turns to me and leads me to the show’s exhibition map, which includes the artist names, the names of the pieces and the medium the artist chose.
AS IT IS
I start at the wrong end of the gallery.
There’s an oil on canvas with varying degrees of grey, in boxes, that is bordered at the top right and bottom right corners with strikes of neon yellow. And running vertically from the top left of the canvas, a strip of orange widening as it reaches the bottom of the frame. Abstract minimalist.
The artist is Jonathan Syme. The techniques used to create the piece, “Study with Yellow and Grey,” are left visible. Tape, perhaps? A woman walks behind me, “This is so great, eh?” She pauses dramatically, “Such an eye for composition.”
My eye moves to the smaller piece next to Syme’s, Jeremy Hof’s “Marble 1.”
“It’s romantic and psychedelic,” I suggest to him in excitement. Overhearing that he was the artist, I waited for this opportunity for him to be in front of his work, and suddenly I find myself exclaiming, “It’s an egg-shaped domain containing a multiplicity of terrestres and mers; imagination land!” The effect of sanding layers of acrylic paint has created a complex of “where is?” The image seems to shift and slide like wet cerebral foliage. It looks like an MRI of the most fantastic brain.
“Sure,” he says. “Thanks.”
I’m not sure if I have gone the wrong way.
I approach a new piece. “Thought Relics” is baby blue and grey; there are blocks in various rigid shapes plotted around the canvas. These rigid shapes are white and grey with dark lining. The “relic” in the top left corner has no dark lining. This erasure ameliorates what would otherwise be a too-repetitive painting.
Deirdre McAdams, the artist, says the absence of lining was inspired by a colleague who said she has a tendency to prefer the top left corner. She says, essentially, the piece is a cheeky nod to that. I appreciate her enthusiasm for quirk.
I reach two sculptures which look like K’NEX toys and random household objects. I figure the meaning is a dichotomy of sorts between childhood and adulthood, and the sculpture is sparse and clinical to signify some sort of institutional unity or, rather, inescapability.
I’m really excited by the artist, Vanessa Maltese, who Wil introduces to me. She is the most recent winner of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition and, based in Toronto, the only non-Vancouver-based artist in As It Is. Her fashion is so peculiarly spider-like that her image embeds itself in my subconscious; surely I will have dreams of jumping spiders tonight.
My eyes dart quickly to what appear to be “pillows” on the wall. These 12.5″ x 12.5″ coloured acrylic cubes, made by Sean Mills, are inflated paintings – one filled with exhibition space air from WAAP, while the clear one is filled with studio air. Paying respects to their source of life, they’re titled “Living Inside a White Cube (WAAP).”
Between Vanessa’s and Sean’s works, there’s a rainbow that reminds me of the plastic used for friendship bracelets. “7 colour marble crochet” by Angela Teng is, in fact, made of crocheted acrylic on aluminum panel.
By this time, the room is incredibly hot, filled to the brim with people wearing delicate items.
Notably, there are actually more pieces in the small entrance way at the door. I’ve made my way back to the beginning, which is now crammed full of people, bursting at every seam of the room.
As It Is runs July 4 to July 27 2013
Gallery hours are Tuesdays 6-9pm, Saturdays 1-5pm, or by appointment.
Contact information waapart.com/info
Wil Aballe Art Projects
website under construction
RBC Canadian Painting Competition
Founder of VANDOCUMENT. Photographer, illustrator, lover and supporter of arts & culture.