Vikky Alexander: World Light
Opening Saturday, November 18, 2023
1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Forthcoming Artist Talk and Tour in December
TrépanierBaer is pleased to present Vikky Alexander: World Light, an exhibition of new and recent works. World Light marks the release of Alexander’s Castello series, that will be shown along with works from her acclaimed Versailles series, including drawings and the sculpture titled Ideal City, 2008.
World Light is the title of a 1937 novel by the Icelandic writer, Halldor Laxness. The narrative is the story of a man who believes that one day he will be a great poet. Over the years he lives a life of poverty, loneliness, love affairs and scandal, but he never achieves greatness. His dream of utopia is unrealized. Alexander’s vision distorts the utopian constructions of royalty and privilege, simultaneously inventing her own.
The Castello series was made while Alexander was an invited artist at Civitella Ranieri, an International Residency program in Umbria, Italy. The residency is housed in a 14th century castle, on a hill, overlooking the landscape around the small town of Umbertide. In the extensive castle library, Alexander found a book of black and white photographs, taken in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s of the various castles in the Umbertide area. She simplified the images, focusing on the buildings, sky and surrounding landscape, using local Italian magazines as source material, with surprising and fantastic results.
In her Les Jardins de Versailles series, Alexander uses engravings from 1720 of the fountains at Versailles, the folly garden designed by André Le Nôtre for Louis XIV, as a template. She previously worked with the formal gardens of Vaux le Vicomte, also designed by Le Nôtre, in a projection piece Vaux le Vicomte Panorama, 1998 which was exhibited at TrépanierBaer in 1999 and the National Gallery of Canada in 2000, and subsequently in her 2019 survey at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The resulting prints incorporate colour and black and white in a landscape where abstraction and realism collide.
Vikky Alexander moved from Halifax to New York City in 1979 after graduating from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD), then to Vancouver in 1992, followed by Montréal in 2016, where she now lives and works.
Throughout her career, Vikky Alexander has constructed a body of critically engaging multi-media work examining the relation between nature and the fabricated “natural”. Drawing upon the varying aesthetic devices of interior and graphic design, and architecture and media, Alexander’s critique centers on the way culture uses simulation to create fictionalized versions of the perfect world. Her analysis of the artificial impulse in cultural production configures a repertoire of appropriated materials that recall modernism’s promise that technology would lead to power over nature and transcendence beyond the mundane. Alexander’s representations of the simulated natural posit an ironic stance calling attention to notions of absence that simulation typically masks.
A member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Alexander has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout Canada, Europe, the United States and Asia.
More recently, in 2005, Ms. Alexander’s work was featured in a group exhibition at the Antwerp Museum of Contemporary Art where she exhibited four large format colour photographs from the Model Suite Series. In 2012, the National Gallery of Canada acquired an entire suite of photographs from Alexander’s The Island Series; it was subsequently shown at the National Gallery of Canada’s Biennial of Contemporary Canadian Art titled Builders that same year. This series was also shown as an installation at the Eaton Centre for the 2012 Nuit Blanche in Toronto.
In March of 2018, Vikky Alexander: The Spoils of the Park, the artist’s first solo exhibition in the UK, opened at Canada House in London. The title of the exhibition is taken from the 1882 book by Frederick Olmsted, who designed Mount Royal Park in Alexander’s resident city of Montreal. Highlighting that the needs of the city’s parks were always subservient to the needs of the political machine, this exhibition similarly explored conflicts between nature and culture, urging us to consider how the natural world is often there merely to service human civilization.
In the Fall of 2019, the Vancouver Art Gallery opened Vikky Alexander: Extreme Beauty, the first retrospective of the work of this notable Canadian artist who has been exhibiting photographs, montages, sculptures, collages and installations for more than three decades. Comprising approximately 85 works in all media and occupying the majority of the Gallery’s second floor, Extreme Beauty examined the major themes that have occupied Alexander for more than three decades – including the appropriated image, the artificially of nature, and the seduction of space – as the artist unravels the mechanisms of display that shape meaning and desire in our culture. This exhibition is accompanied by an eponymous catalogue co-published by the Vancouver Art Gallery and Figure 1, with texts by Daina Augaitis, Vicent Bonin, Leah Pires and Nancy Tousley.
The Darling Foundation in Montréal opened a solo exhibition devoted to Vikky Alexander in February of 2020 titled Nordic Rock. The industrial setting of The Darling Foundation harboured fragile sculptures representing highly stylized elements of design furniture, such as a bed, a chair, a night table. Installed on pedestals and made of dichroic glass, an iridescent material that reflects a spectrum of colour, these extremely delicate sculptures attract viewers and hold their gaze. Like jewels or precious stones capturing and reflecting light, these non-functional objects have a sole aim: to captivate and to create desire.
In 2021, Vikky Alexander’s work was shown in the group exhibition titled La machine qui enseignait des airs aux oiseaux at the Montréal Museum of Contemporary Art. Recent group exhibitions that include Vikky Alexander’s work include: “TRUE PICTURES? Contemporary Photography from Canada and the USA”, Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany (2021/2022), and at Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria (2022), and Objects of Desire: Photography and the Language of Advertising, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2022).
Alexander’s work is included in many prestigious collections in North America including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the National Gallery of Canada; the Deste Foundation, Athens, Greece; and the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Glenbow Museum, to name a few. Her work has been the subject of numerous articles in respected art journals and publications in Canada and abroad including Art in America, Canadian Art, the New York Times, Flash Art, Artforum and C Magazine.
Castello Del Bisciaro, 2022
Digital Ink jet print on Estrada 300 natural acid free paper
Edition 1/3 – 16″ x 20″