Heads down, my companion sees wet trampled trash. I see heightened colors and sheen. Someone looks at grafitti and sees a beautiful riot of color and energy. Another sees lack of respect and crime.
The title of Ed Burtynsky’s current exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery says it all. I’ve loved Ed Burtynsky’s large format photographs for many years, and am enjoying the current exhibit of his work at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The curator’s talk is tonight at 7pm.
Interestingly, while at the exhibit this week, I saw people sketching (as I was) the patterns and noting the colors. I was inspired thinking about compositions for abstract paintings. I overheard another viewer angrily say “I can’t look at these any longer” (followed by an empassioned diatribe against ‘people today’).
You might want to check out the great documentary film called “Manufactured Landscapes” (2006) and a newer one called “Watermark” (2013). In the film “Manufactured Landscapes”, the artist himself is careful not to step fully into either side, carefully maintaining a perspective of witness, and sharing what he has seen with others.
What do you think? Can art reflecting terrible facts be beautiful? Does your art, or art you love, have a political or ecological message? Does it need to have such a message to be valuable to you? Or does having an agenda outside of the art decrease your enjoyment?