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Calgary
Lindsay Sorell
Vikky Alexander at Trépanier Baer
May 02, 2018

I once lived in a 1970s-era house with two other roommates I found on Kijiji. The walls were covered with imitation wood panelling and the carpet was a seafoam green with a wave-patterned pile. In the living room was a wide bay window facing the front lawn so we could watch our children play or our garden party progress. Theoretically.



Vikky Alexander, Other Fantasies, 2018, installation view

Vikky Alexander’s Other Fantasies at Trépanier Baer reminds me of that bay window and living inside another decade in another person’s utopia. As I walk into the gallery, gloriously massive vistas beckon me forward. I feel like I’m entering Minecraft – window-like perspectives created by blocks of colour and blown-up photographs run floor-to ceiling printed in vinyl, swallowing me up. The familiar shapes of hallways, rooms, and bay windows are cut out of images of natural elements and their imitations. Floral vistas, purple sunset skies, and images of treetops abut digitally manufactured wood texture, water, colour gradients, paisley, and polka dots.

The gallery walls interject and hide one another in a jagged maze before spitting me out into the hallway where framed photographs of sleek, glossy storefronts hang. Looking into the storefront glass, reflections of the street view as well as the clean display within can be seen. I can even see myself in the glass preserving the photograph. The street population, patterns, and colours outside overlap with the controlled, well lit, pre-prepared concepts of softly coloured beauty inside, and the track lights of Trépanier Baer.

Alexander uses design and pattern as tools with which to examine art’s relationship to class, capitalism, and the sale of utopia. Creating an epic experience for the viewer, she uses elements of design much like the storefronts she photographs – or like the imitation wood in my groovy house – to sell utopia. Like my wavy seafoam carpet, she explores nature as commodified pattern or decoration rather than as pre-existing, self-sustaining, or important in its own right. She recycles patterns as symbols of class or power, and in doing so recognizes and complicates the status and capital nature of art, selling her vinyls as lifelong custom re-prints for $9000 each, and prints on canvas for $25 – 30K. An established artist who has been making work for nearly four decades, Alexander continues to puzzle over the ideal, to be self-aware and self-critical. As someone who hopes to sustain art making for the rest of my life as well, she is an inspiration.


Vikky Alexander: Other Fantasies continues until May 5.
Trépanier Baer: http://www.trepanierbaer.com/
The gallery is accessible.


Lindsay Sorell is an artist and writer who recently collaborated with the Advanced Toastmasters of Calgary for the IKG Live 1 performance festival and completed two solo exhibitions of new work: Exercises in Healing at Contemporary Calgary and Buddha, Why Am I Alone? at AVALANCHE! Institute of Contemporary Art. She is currently working on a large-scale watercolour painting of food and is the editor of Luma Quarterly. She is Akimblog's Calgary correspondent and can be followed on Instagram.

 

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