Wylie: Compelling message in Kelowna Art Gallery exhibit

Current show at KAG comprised of 18 photographs by Ontario artist Edward Burtynsky, and nine paintings by B.C.’s own Emily Carr.

  • Jan. 29, 2015 2:00 p.m.

If a friend told you that the works by Edward Burtynsky and Emily Carr in the current exhibition at the Kelowna Art Gallery were “eye candy,” would you think that was something of an insult?

Or is it actually possible for paintings and photographs to be visually stunning and delicious and still have a compelling intellectual component?

These are questions you can ponder when you come to see A Terrible Beauty: Edward Burtynsky in Dialogue with Emily Carr.

This show has been organized and circulated to us from the Vancouver Art Gallery as part of their Across the Province touring exhibition program, sponsored by the Killy Foundation.

It’s comprised of 18 colour photographs by internationally known, Ontario-based artist Edward Burtynsky, and nine paintings by B.C.’s own Emily Carr.

What unites these two artists, who are separated by a generation, is their shared concern about humanity’s devastating impact on the natural environment.

Burtynsky actually made his first professional works in northern B.C., photographing cuts made in the forest for railway lines. He then moved onto a series of images of giant quarries, which met with immediate critical success when they were first exhibited in the 1990s.

From there, Burtynsky began to travel the world and has photographed such wide ranging places and activities as ocean tanker demolition in Bangladesh and the devastation from the construction of the Three Gorges Dam in China. His works are both riveting and gorgeous.

Emily Carr was a unique and unusual person who struggled against her society’s views on both women and art.

Rather than being a polite, submissive Victorian woman who devoted herself to family and dabbled in genteel watercolour painting, Carr was a serious, committed and passionate artist.

She continued to study abroad and to travel for her art, striving to improve her work all through her adult life. The nine works by her in this exhibition all depict the British Columbia landscape as it was being affected in her time by clear cut logging and gravel quarrying.

What may come as a surprise, given their grim subject matter, is the incredible aesthetic kick to the works of art in this show.

Burtynsky and Carr are both wonderfully talented artists, and they seduce us by their colour, light, exciting compositions, and vigour.

Then, after such a visual feast, viewers may find themselves beginning to think about the pressing issues of environmental degradation. A Terrible Beauty is at the Kelowna Art Gallery until March 1.

Just Posted

Kelowna DJs organize own shows to fill gap in music scene

The DJs wanted to create somewhere people could enjoy their music safely

Rediscover Rutland: There’s never a dull moment in the neighbourhood

Laurel D’Andrea, with URBA, is sharing a few upcoming events

Kelowna budget carryovers won’t add to taxation demand

Council’s carryover budget requests will advance work for the city

Warm temperatures here to stay in Kelowna

Spring has finally sprung in the Central Okanagan

Kelowna welcomes building permit applications for “earth homes”

Kelowna welcomes carriage and container “earth homes” when mandatory inspections are completed

Defiant vigil starts healing in New Zealand after massacre

Police say the gunman in the shooting that killed 50 acted alone

Horvat scores 16 seconds into OT as Canucks beat Blackhawks 3-2

Pettersson sets rookie scoring record for Vancouver

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

In Photos: Classic snowmobiles pushed to their limits in fun races

The Burner in Malakwa served as the venue for races show cases older sleds

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Okanagan organization helps provide water for all in Nepal

Presentation shares success of project at Okanagan Science Centre March 27

Most Read