Winner of the John and Joyce Price Award of Excellence for the 2010 edition of the BAM Biennial: Clay Throwdown!, Dirk Staschke returns to Bellevue Arts Museum with his first museum solo exhibition, Falling Feels a Lot Like Flying.
Inspired by the unsettling and beautiful Flemish and Dutch Vanitas still-life paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries and the celebration of excessive ornamentation of the Baroque period, Staschke’s monumentally lavish yet hollow ceramic work uses symbols of abundance to offer
a breathtaking commentary on craving, over-consumption, and excess in our times.
Like paintings of the Vanitas genre, which—through a display of symbols such as skulls, fresh and rotting fruits and vegetables, hourglasses, butterflies and dead fowl to name a few—invite the enjoyment of earthly pleasures while forewarning the viewer of the fleeting nature of life and the futility of amassing material possessions, Staschke’s sculptures capture and freeze the beauty and ephemerality of a moment in time. His references are eloquent: a bounty of vegetables and seafood is artistically arranged over a table with fruits smashed and left open to rot; game and fowl, the hunter’s catch, stiffly hang from hooks on the wall; butterflies and taxidermy birds remind us of the levity and colorfulness of life, while dangerously stacked mounds of buttery sweets in their tempting deception, invite us to gorge while it lasts. Everything is offered to the viewer’s eye as a bounty captured in the precarious instant just before or during collapse and decay.
In an artist talk given last Saturday (Feb. 12) at the West Van gallery, Pierre Coupey introduced the audience (at least it was an introduction for me) to the concept of proprioception and how it influences the way he makes his work.
Proprioception is an inherent sense apart from the exteroceptive senses (how we perceive the outside world) and interoceptive senses (how we sense what is going on inside our bodies), and concerns where parts of the body are as they relate to on another. Pierre spoke about the content of the paintings having a proprioceptive sense that allows for composition and colour to determine itself. He also provided the caveat though of “art is a game, and if I’m losing, I change the rules” (quote attributed to Michael Snow).
Pierre’s methodology perhaps came from the motivation for making many of these paintings in the first place. He recounted a story about the burial of Robin Blaser, a noted author and poet, and the passage from being someone perceived to someone remembered. This idea, combined with remembered perceptions from his travels and youth, inform Pierre’s paintings and to hear him recount the thought process (or conscious effort to remove the thought-process) was enlightening.