Gloria Eliès, Pescador, c. 1965
47 x 32 x 14 cm.
Photo: Photography by Sharon
The exhibition by Canadian artist Gloria Eliès is a retrospective and, to some degree, a view of one woman's perception of the world. Forced to consider economic, political and social environments beyond Canadian borders (Gloria, as the artist prefers to be called, has lived in Mexico for the last thirty-eight years), she has thought a lot about her roles and responsibilities in society. Gloria considers her work a vehicle for self-expression and a medium which can echo her concerns regarding the changing world around her.
Gloria creates bronze sculptures which reflect her interest in the Mexican people, nature, feminism, and the environment. Using a lost-wax process, a method of casting employed since antiquity, she works originally in clay and then produces a positive cast in plaster. From the plaster cast, a mould is made and filled with wax, the last step before bronze. Gloria works with a small foundry in Mexico City, a twelve-hour bus trip across the country from her home on the west coast.
Much of the sculpture produced in the 20th century differs radically in form and content from that made in the past. Modern sculpture explores the same directions as painting, aligning itself with movements like cubism, futurism, constructivism, Dada, and surrealism. Gloria works in a stylized, yet representational manner, concentrating on content, form and surface design to bring out the intrinsic beauty of her materials.
Gloria began her interest in art while still living in her native city of Toronto. In 1947 she began work with the Royal Ontario Museum, producing educational and commercial reproductions of the antiquities and tribal art in its collection. At this time, she was showing her own work in a number of exhibitions and was elected as the youngest member of the Canadian Sculptor's Society. After moving to the United States on a Cranbrook scholarship, she continued her museum reproduction work at the Detroit Institute of Art. Gloria traveled to North Africa, lived in France, then moved to Mexico in 1958. She initially settled in Puerto Vallarta and later relocated to a small fishing village on the Bay of Banderas, only accessible by boat.
This exhibition is a culmination of five decades of work by this dedicated Canadian artist. A great lover of art and nature, Gloria wants her work to be enjoyed for the beauty of the material, the educational understanding of the process and the sheer enjoyment of artistic expression.
Nature in western culture has been something profoundly other, something out there, something to be viewed, pictured, owned and consumed.
The Culture of Nature exhibition deconstructs the theoretical and practical history of landscape painting from the Eden-like pastoral tradition through modernism and postmodernism. Tracing the impact of the landscape from a nostalgic perspective to the very material of survival, Adjunct Curator Annette Hurtig investigates and reconstructs, through the works selected, some of the recent changes in the way we think about nature. The artists included in this exhibition are asking questions about our past, our beliefs, and our future.
By presenting works that question, transgress or break with the conventions of our local, regional landscape painting tradition, the exhibition clearly illustrates how changes in attitudes, in our thinking, are being made evident in the contemporary art of British Columbia. Hurtig includes new and hybridized works which, along with traditional art forms, demonstrate the formal diversity of contemporary art. By featuring art works with a critical approach to the landscape tradition, the exhibition illustrates precursors to postmodern art’s diverse practices and its characteristic criticality.
The Culture of Nature exhibition recognizes that nature, like identity, is a culturally produced concept, and that landscape images are visual tropes, figures or metaphors which refer to social, economic and political discourses and to a particular historical moment and cultural context. It explores the landscape as a site, and as a symptom, of deeply conflicting ideas about the natural world and our relation to it. Presenting art works that differ from traditional approaches to landscape, in so far as they examine the relationships between culture and nature, this exhibition reconstructs some transformations to the concept of nature in the latter half of the twentieth century. The works in The Culture of Nature exhibition indicate certain historical developments, such as shifts in attitudes about scientific knowledge and expertise or in notions of social, economic, industrial and technological progress.
Along with other thinkers, artists are investigating and reinventing our relationship to the land, transforming it from a divinely irrelevant idyll or, more recently perhaps, from a relationship based on a doctrine of conquest and exploitation to an awareness of the landscape as ever-present and all-encompassing. How we think about the land, about nature, about the relationship between culture and nature has become one of the principal intellectual battlefields of our time.
The Kamloops Art Gallery would like to express thanks to all the artists in this exhibition: Vicky Alexander, Roy Arden, Marian Penner Bancroft, Tom Burrows, Kati Campbell, Brice Canyon, Allyson Clay, Chris Dikeakos, Stan Douglas, Dean Ellis, Rodney Graham, Carole Itter, Laiwan, Glenn Lewis, Liz Magor, Teresa Marshall, Eric Metcalfe, Warren Murfitt, N.E. Thing Co., Gordon Payne, Jerry Pethick, Philippe Raphanel, Jack Shadbolt, Reid Shier, Heather Thomas,Mina Totino, Ian Wallace and Jin-meYoon. We also extend appreciation to all those who lent works to the KAG, including several of the artists, the Vancouver Art Gaallery, Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Bau-Xi Gallery, Brad Chernoff, and Mary and Gordon Payne. We would also like to acknowledge Peter Cardew for assisting Eric Metcalfe with the maquette rendering of the Phase II proposal.
This exhibition is dedicated to Alex Wilson and Dr. Henry Hurtig. It is sponsored by British Columbia Lottery Corporation, CFJC-TV, Pazzazz Clothing, etc., Price Waterhouse, and Pollard Banknote (BC), Fulton & Company, Coast Canadian Inn, Morelli Chertkow Lawyers.
Kim Clarke Photography
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