ARTS CORNER: Picasso meets MacKenzie at historic Ceperley Mansion
When I mounted the river stone steps of the Burnaby Art Gallery for the first time, I was aware of the BAG’s stellar reputation for presenting thought-provoking and innovative exhibitions at historic Ceperley Mansion.
On viewing their new exhibition, The Gaze of History: Portraits from the Collection with Drawing Installation, I was delighted to find an intriguing mix of real and imagined faces of the former inhabitants of Ceperley Mansion drawn on the walls by contemporary Vancouver artist Elizabeth MacKenzie.
Thought-provoking is almost an understatement for this exhibition.
MacKenzie’s subtle powdered graphite portraits complement and contrast with over 70 portraits selected from the Burnaby Art Gallery’s Permanent Art Collection. The Gaze of History probes the conventions of portraiture and the exchange of the gaze through drawing, printmaking, photography and painting. Picasso, Jack Shadbolt, Peter Morin and Ann Kipling are only a few of the distinguished artists represented in the BAG’s collection who will create dialogue between MacKenzie’s artworks, the past and present, the mansion and its uses, and most importantly between visitors as they engage with the artwork and string together narratives and ideas about the gaze.
The overall effect creates a mysterious atmosphere that is sure to captivate everyone. It seems the man in Picasso’s print “Pour Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler” is certainly as intrigued as I am to meet the mansion’s former inhabitants drawn by MacKenzie.
The Gaze of History refers to the fascinating history of Burnaby’s Ceperley Mansion. The portraits make reference to the mansion’s former inhabitants from 1910-1966 prior to its conversion to the Burnaby Art Gallery in 1967. These real and imagined faces confirm the elusive nature of the past.
Visitors to the gallery will develop their own stories when they interact with the faces as they play against the other art work hanging on the walls. Visitors may be surprised as the drawing installation extends beyond the gallery walls and faces mysteriously appear throughout the mansion, capturing the essence of its history giving an ethereal and timeless quality to the portraits even though, like history, they too will eventually disappear.
Visitors are invited to join MacKenzie for a free Artist Talk on Sunday, July 15 at 1 p.m. or view The Gaze of History: Portraits from the Collection with Drawing Installation at the gallery, 6344 Deer Lake Ave. until Aug. 26. Admission by donation. www.burnabyartgallery.ca
• Brenda Finlayson is marketing and sponsorship coordinator at the Burnaby Art Gallery.