Wanda Koop – Paintings and Drawings (1984-2016) – Exhibition text by Galerie Division
Koop has left an indelible mark on the history of Canadian painting, her distinctive visual vocabulary ushering themes of technology and globalization into our country’s landscape tradition. This exhibition maps the glossary of symbols and leitmotifs she has coined, tracing them through three decades of seaways and skylines, landscapes and mindscapes, virtual and physical realms.
Koop is, first and foremost, a brilliant colourist. Her eye-twitching fluorescents and meditative greys, applied in great, cross-blooming washes, hang like curtains of light. Her surfaces become ruminations, the diluted pigment a vaporous scrim. And indeed many of Koop’s paintings are screens, viewfinders and portals. Drawn from newsreel footage or from the handheld devices through which she documents the world, her paintings invoke the apparatus of looking, reminding us that our perspectives are the sum of the media we consume. Past painters have situated Canada in its physical environment – Koop expands that geography to include not only satellites, smart-phones, and a boggling expanse of cyberspace, but also the intimate reaches of our minds.
Contemporary warfare, First Nations’ rights, industrial production – Koop’s work absorbs these and other issues with urgency and grace. Her deliberate clustering of information, her rapid downloading of the data of our age, bears the imprint of a voraciously curious artist with a deeply sentient soul. Capturing the essence of her vision, paintings + drawings (1984-2016) distils a lifetime of looking into a powerful point of view.
A recipient of The Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, Koop is also a member of the Order of Canada and of the Royal Academy of the Arts. She has had solo exhibitions at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) and the National Gallery of Canada, and is included in Her Story Today: Six Painters from Quebec and Canada, an ongoing group exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Her work can be found in the collections of TD Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Air Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, The Edmonton Art Gallery, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, The National Gallery of Canada, The Shanghai Museum of Modern Art, and The Reykjavik Art Museum, among others. An active member of her community, she is the founder of Art City, an inner-city youth centre for visual arts based in Winnipeg. Wanda Koop lives and works in Winnipeg, Canada.