February 2011

As It Is: And/Or/Neither/Nor Work by Andrew (A01) Owen

Andrew (A01) Owen was a huge influence on me during the writing of The Blue Light Project. His street activity was high during the months I was writing and researching the book, primarily in the form of 1:1 scale "re-photo-cubic-surfaces". I became very intrigued by this practice and by this artist. Over the following years, I got to know him a little better, and began to realize that he had 20 years of intense production already behind him, dozens of interesting and beautiful works, not an eclectic gathering as a person might first mistakenly think, but bound thematically. I was able appreciate this more fully when he mounted a show at Marion Scott Gallery last year. I wrote a review of that show for Canadian Art, which I'm re-running below.

Check out more of Andrew's work at A01creative.


As It Is: And/Or/Neither/Nor  work by Andrew A01 Owen

Andrew Owen’s basic idea is elusive. But then, that’s exactly the core of Andrew Owen’s basic idea: that a great deal eludes us, perhaps nowhere more so than in the consumerized West. We live, Owen asserts – via an impressive range of work at his first solo show in Canada in almost 20 years – on the twilight side of a yawning subjectivity gap, a chasm of personal and cultural bias that separates us from the truth about… well, about anything.

Art objects are crucially affected in this analysis, of course, with both the subjectivity of the artist and that of the viewer contributing to a permanently flawed communication. How to conquer that? Owen asks, in effect. His answer to which is to get the artist as far as possible out of the way. And each work in this show represents a discrete attempt on Owen’s part to do so.

I say “elusive”, because the idea takes some teasing out. At first glance, the MSG show incorporates work so diverse in media and aesthetic tone – from floral impressions to fragmented photographic collages to re-purposed advertisement hoardings – that it would be easy enough to conclude that three or four artists were involved. But it’s all Owen, all tuned to the same conceptual key. And once this harmonization is sensed, the body of work transmutes satisfyingly from multifarious to singular.

The floral impressions are field compositions, positive stencils made by pressing layers of wild flowers to the canvas, and applying a different layer of paint over each. As bits of organic matter tend to remain stuck to these canvases, and paint also ghost in under the leaves, these works are naturally randomized. They’ve been exposed to the whims of wind and other conditions in the field. And so the flowers have been allowed, in effect, to speak for themselves.

The photo collages take a diametrically different approach to the same problem. Using a technique he describes as “photo-cubism”, Owen delivers a portrait – of flowers or groups of people – by rendering them in an intense flurry of different views. This is brought to its most expressive form in the large work Photo-cubic Stoop Punks: Portrait Tableau. That piece – depicting of a group of punk rockers assembled on a stoop in Toronto Kensington Market – is not a collage of objects, but of available perspectives. It’s a collage designed not to bridge the subjectivity gap, in other words, but to erect a sign that reads, roughly, mind the gap.




Posted: Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 11:28am

The brutal honesty of Doug Coupland

A fantastic, supportive quote has come in from UBC English professor Laura Moss, who is also an editor at the literary quarterly Canadian Literature, and the author of Canadian Literature in English: Texts and Contexts

In the this quote, Moss compares my work to Coupland. I'm flattered by that comarison, as I admire Coupland a lot. And having had dinner at his house once, I'll tell you a secret. Eve's brother Ali, in the novel, lives in a house that was inspired by my memories of Coupland's beautiful house.

The book is available from AMAZON here. Please give it a look.

Laura writes:

"The Blue Light Project slows down today's accelerated world in order to sympathetically probe the constraints of celebrity, public art, and biopolitics in the context of contemporary terrorism. At the core of this suspenseful novel is a hostage crisis that is terrifyingly real. Taylor forces us to consider probabilities.   What might happen at the confluence of fear, love, and hope?

Just as Taylor's first novel Stanley Park concludes with one of the most memorable meals in contemporary literature, the final illumination in The Blue Light Project will haunt readers for decades to come. 

Writing at times with the incisive vision of Margaret Atwood, the broken lyricism of Michael Ondaatje, the social realism of Rohinton Mistry, and the brutal honesty of Douglas Coupland, Timothy Taylor now firmly ranks among Canada's finest authors.

The Blue Light Project is an important book. Pay attention."

Again, if you're interested in trying out this "thriller that makes you think", please visit AMAZON with this link

Posted: Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 5:36pm

Maynards and the Future of the Auction Trade

First published in BC Business Magazine

By Timothy Taylor

There was a telling scene at an auction I attended recently. It was the Modern Woman show at Maynards, where the 108-year-old auction house had assembled a group of 35 contemporary fine art works from 24 emerging artists. Unlike the typical Maynards auction of items sourced from estates and other sellers, this show was made up of items selected by newcomer contemporary art specialist Kate Bellringer, a UBC and Sotheby’s Art Institute graduate. And by all appearances, the new show and the new approach looked set to be a smash success. A good-sized crowd had turned out, 60 or 70 people, milling around and sipping pinot gris and Pellegrino water. And while it was a younger crowd than normally came out to auctions, according to Maynards’ VP of fine art and antiques Hugh Bulmer, who also acts as chief auctioneer, it was clearly a fashionable and affluent group, with Manolo Blahniks and Prada frames sprinkled liberally through the crowd. The room looked ready to buy some art, in other words. And the hip work Bellringer had chosen seemed well suited to the audience.

Only the crowd wasn’t buying art.


Posted: Friday, Feb. 4, 2011 8:42am

Postmodern Research

I was honored to have JermIX do the cover of The Blue Light Project American edition. He's just posted a great piece on his blog describing the process.

Jerm's description of how he went about it opens a window into the two-way creative relationship that this book had with the artists who inspired it. I was absorbing their work into the novel, describing it and making it part of the narrative. But then the novel itself - specifically, pages from a very early draft - had been included in street art as far back as 2008.

Perhaps most satisfying, art I "invented" for the book has lately been appearing on the streets. I've now seen You'll Find It Where You Last Saw It posters. There's this whole Faith Wall sticker campaign that Jerm describes. There's even a documentary film being shot about the relationship between Cameraman and Rabbit.

An interviewer suggested recently that the novel was post-modern. In the sense that authenticity and authorship are no longer concrete concepts, I was forced to agree.


Posted: Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 3:19pm

Blood Brothers

This article was assigned to me by Gary Ross, to whom I'm grateful. It was one of the most affecting stories I've ever work on. And I'm honored to be sharing it with people more widely.
From Vancouver Magazine March 2011
It’s an unassuming storefront on a dusty stretch of East Esplanade in North Vancouver, opposite the industrial waterfront. Power Max Auto Repair reads the sign above the garage door which is battered from use. Inside, meanwhile, all the typical sights and sounds of an auto mechanic’s shop: the flash and buzz of an arc welder, the radio playing in the background, the big red box of Snap-On Tools and, of course, the house project car. In this case a 1950 Pontiac StratoChief, which sits in a rear corner of the garage, awaiting the attentions of the proprietor as these are available between other jobs.
It’s an ordinary place, in other words. And yet – through the man who founded this shop, Zahed Haftlang, born in Iran in 1968, a survivor of years of war and torture, and a refugee claimant to Canada in 1999 – it is extraordinary too for the way it connects Vancouver to a critical place and date in Middle Eastern history.
Posted: Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 9:17am