Eye Candy: New Cedar Panels by Rande Cook
September 13 – October 27, 2018
Opening Reception September 13, 6 – 9 pm
Fazakas Gallery is pleased to present Eye Candy, a new series of sandblasted red cedar panels by Rande Cook. Trained in Kwakwaka’wakw aesthetics and values, Cook’s skilful technique and innovative flair lead him to create a body of work that is bright and contemporary yet informed by tradition. As the artist states, “I bend all the rules with these [panels] while maintaining integrity to the true form passed on from my ancestors.”
With this series the unique character of each cedar panel is allowed to shine. Sandblasting, a technique usually employed in commercial signage production, is here adapted to create unique works of art. As the softer part of the wood is eroded, the denser grain is exposed, revealing an undulating texture instantly reminiscent of cedar bark.
Above this textured surface sinuous designs appear to hover, their lyrical and fluid contours seemingly floating over the rich wood. Amidst the calligraphic strokes the forms of quintessentially coastal animals emerge such as beaver, frog and whale. Painted in a lively pastel palette accented with deep blues and fiery pinks, these panels capture the movement and richness of summer on the west coast. The levity of the colours, so suggestive of the bright tones of 1960s Pop Art, is also reflected in the titles of some works. “Catch Me” and “Violet” could be taken from the iconic sweetheart candies, and Cook’s wry sense of humour glimmers through.
Through Cook’s subtle use of negative space, overlapping forms to resonate with one another, creating a sense of depth. Designs are expertly balanced within their frames and keep the eye moving across the surfaces. The effect is of a lyrical movement captured for an instant: a bird taking flight, or a frog serenading the moon. In several panels, Cook uses a minimum of abstracted forms to suggest the experience of being in the landscape. The rustle of a summer breeze or the feeling of sunbeams on one’s skin is hinted at while still leaving the design open to a viewer’s own responses. Through his skilful deconstruction of traditional formline juxtaposed with a bright, fresh colour palette, Rande Cook produces a body of work that is lively, uplifting and a joy to behold.
Eye Candy is the inaugural exhibition at the Fazakas project space, Tanúyap.
Rande Cook, (K’alapa). B. 1977. Lives and works in Victoria, BC.
Rande Cook is a multimedia Kwakwaka’wakw artist whose practice includes carving, painting, printmaking and photography. Born in culture-rich Alert Bay, Cook grew up surrounded by the beauty of the land and art and found the passion of artistic creativity at an early age. He studied under several master craftsmen to learn traditional jewellery and carving techniques including master carver John Livingston and Calvin Hunt for wood sculpting, Robert Davidson for metal work, Valentin Yotkov for and repousée and chasing. With his unique accumulation of heritage, knowledge and experience, Cook continually pushes boundaries to create beautiful and provocative works that challenge audiences to reconsider the role of traditional techniques for contemporary artmaking.
While growing up, Cook observed and discussed the traditional art forms of his Kwakwaka’wakw forefathers with his grandfather, Gus Matilpi. The strong teachings from his grandparents about culture and the sacred ceremonies of the Potlatch world allowed Cook to become an accomplished singer and dancer, and to learn the values of life and culture that prepared him to be a strong leader for his people. Cook carries two chieftainships: the Hamatam/Seagull; and the Gigalgam from the ancient ancestor Kwanusila/Thunderbird. This story can be seen on the 27-foot totem pole he was commissioned to carve for the Museum Volkenkunde in the Netherlands in 2012.
Cook’s prestigious commissions include Quench, an 8 ft. totem water fountain for the city of Duncan’s 100 year centennial, the house post panels on the First Peoples House at the University of Victoria, as well as numerous private commissions. In 2015 and 2016, Cook held the Audain Professorship of Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest with the Visual Arts department at the University of Victoria. In 2017 he was the recipient of the Audain Achievement Award for BC. His work has been included in exhibitions at Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, National Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC, and the Contemporary Native Art Biennial at Art Mûr, Montréal QC.