After a retrospective in 2019 at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vikky Alexander presents Nordic Rock, a precious, fantasy-rich installation that contrasts the brutalist and imposing architecture of the Fonderie Darling’s hall.
The industrial setting harbours fragile sculptures representing highly stylized elements of design furniture, such as a bed, a chair, a night table. Made of dichroic glass, an iridescent material that reflects light in a spectrum of colour, these minimal and extremely delicate sculptures are presented on pedestals arranged like islands in the space so as to reinforce their inaccessibility. Akin to jewels or precious stones capturing and reflecting light, these non-functional objects aim to captivate and create desire as they attract viewers and hold their gaze. Their shimmering, transparent surface subtly plays with the patina and architecture of the heritage building. The height of luxury, these works reveal the tremendous tension between the former working-class neighbourhood and the current, massive real estate development intended for a wealthy population.
Staggered with the sculptures and structuring the exhibition, two imposing vinyl murals of photo collages stand opposite each other, covering the full height of two wall sections. Composed of images gleaned from magazines, the murals use collage to associate views of dramatic or sublime landscapes with close-ups of textures, simulations of organic or vegetal matter.
Through these immense windows that open onto fantastical horizons, through the distortion of scale and the games of make-believe, the artist highlights the marketing strategies of appropriating and substituting nature used by the real estate and interior design markets. She also raises the question of authorship by reappropriating and recontextualizing images.
Alexander is a conceptual artist whose work explores the culture of consumerism and fantasy. Her work is distinctive in its ability to examine the world of illusion and material desire by using the language of architecture and design, borrowing from the imagery of high fashion and design magazines to address the themes of desire and commodification and the ways in which society projects us into these unreal environments. Playing with reflective materials and optical illusions and using strategies that trigger unconscious motives, the artist creates minimalist interventions in photography and sculpture.
translated by Oana Avasilichioaei
• • •
Vikky Alexander’s work is characterized by the artist’s ongoing consideration of illusion and material desires framed with the language of architecture and design. Since the early 1980’s, Alexander has investigated culture’s appropriation and substitution of nature as it is manifest in mass market interior design items, such as photomurals of scenic landscapes, wood veneers and decorative mirrors. Her photographs, collages, drawings, installations and sculpture recognize the artificial as a place for utopian fantasy, a surreal space where the natural is recreated in an improved or even perfected form. Through her work, she examines how the formal signs of photography, architecture as well as interior and graphic design reveal and shape meaning in our contemporary culture, bringing to the fore discussions of capitalism, commodification and desire within the parameters of fantasy and cultural longing.
Alexander recently moved to Montreal after being part of the Vancouver art community for 25 years. She is represented by galleries Cooper Cole in Toronto, Downs & Ross in New York, Trépanier Baer in Calgary, as well as by Wilding Cran Gallery in Los Angeles.