VANCOUVER - Rennie Collection at Wing Sang is pleased to present an exhibition with Los Angeles-based artists Thomas Houseago and Amy Bessone. Both showing for the first time in Canada, they both deal with the figure and representations of the figure in a contemporary and insightful manner.
British sculptor Thomas Houseago (b. 1972) recalls the expressive figures of classical Greek sculpture and Picasso's cubism in his monstrous statues and masks. Houseago turned to sculpture while attending Central Saint Martins School of Art in London in the early 1990s as a way to find space for himself in a crowded art scene. At the time he focused on the performative action of sculpture, but later became interested in the formality of sculpture itself and its relationship to time. First introduced to cubist aesthetics through the helmet of one Darth Vader, his artistic influences include Picasso, Giacometti, Surrealism and rock album covers.
Rennie Collection will have a number of Houseago's mask works on display. Like much of his other work, the armature is exposed, revealing his action in the creation of the final form. The construction of the work and the work itself become one and the same. Also showing will be two works entitled Reclining Nude. Reclining Nude (2005) recalls work by British sculptor Henry Moore, though in a stark contrast to the bubbly, rounded figures produced by Moore, Houseago's figure is constructed out of flat planes of plaster. Houseago works in 2D when developing his ideas, later assembling them into his coarse and humorous 3D forms. The final structures are both fragile and powerful.
By contrast, the paintings and drawings of Amy Bessone (b. 1970) often translate porcelain figurines into 2D. Born and raised in New York, Bessone has attended Barnard, Parsons Paris, and De Ateliers in Amsterdam, where she met Houseago. Since her student days, she has been interested in the idea of a painting of a sculpture or a painting of a painting, much like the Shakespearean idea of a play within a play. She is influenced by the theatre, and the sculptors with whom she surrounds herself.
Many of the paintings on display reference the traditional female nude, both in her representations of porcelain figurines and in more recent paintings that simply allude to the nude. Bessone applies paint thinly, allowing the white of the gesso'd canvas to show through to depict the highlights of the porcelain as the light falls over the figurine. The Narcissist (2007) is a classic example of this effect, creating a sense of both knowing what something is and not knowing - is it a portrait? Is it a still-life? Or is she a lifeless object, objectified for her sexuality? Her more recent paintings like 80s Life (2010) seems to remove this passive male objectification by swift and economic painting over the canvas, eschewing the gaudiness excessive paint can provide. Bessone has brought the female figure back to life through the act of painting.
Rennie Collection has evolved over a number of years to focus on works related to identity, social injustice, appropriation, painting and photography. Bob Rennie has garnered an international reputation as a dedicated collector, amassing one of the largest collections of contemporary art in North America. In 2009 renovations were completed on the oldest building in Vancouver's Chinatown to display the collection to the public. Rennie Collection at Wing Sang will hold two to three exhibitions a year with supporting catalogues.