COLLEEN PHILIPPI, RETROSPECTIVE: A SERIES OF WUNDERKABINETTS
Runs until June 30
Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art
Colleen Philippis works are a collection of time capsules. Not time capsules in the sense of objects some historian will dig up a hundred years from now, but points where time, memory and myth all converge in a swirl of artistic excellence.
Colleen Philippi, Retrospective: A Series of Wunderkabinetts is an exhibition that uses shards of memory and imagination just as other artists use paint and canvas. The paint and canvas are here, but so, too, are bits and pieces from places Philippi has visited and those that have never existed.
To describe these objects as paintings does them a grave injustice. Instead, these are installations of the artists life and imaginings that aptly demonstrate her skill, attention to detail and playfulness. In a time where there seems to be an overabundance of art reminding us that our days on the planet will soon come to a gaseous end, Philippi provides a welcome counterpoint to what is dark, drab and too often embarrassingly self-righteous.
Two of the pieces incorporate clock-like pendulums swinging back and forth, creating an atmosphere in the exhibition space that feels more like a childrens pop-up book than an art gallery.
With other works, the 3-D experience continues with drawers waiting to be opened, in what amounts to a discovery of this Winnipeg-born, Calgary-based artists wondrous visions.
Bird Inventory depicts some of the worlds best-known winged creatures, including a toucan and macaw parrot. They sit on one side of the work, while a mechanical device on the other side waits to be wound by the fickle finger of fate, to decide which species thrive and which ones fly into the history books to join the dodo. An intelligent message delivered without didacticism, Philippi offers salient observations about the state of the planet in a palette of rainbow colours.
Philippi draws on her experiences as a way to add additional layers to these collisions of fact and fantasy. The painting St. Cloud depicts a palace where French noblemen once strolled, a place where humble gardeners sought to elevate their masters status by controlling the palaces greenery. For Philippi, the grand palace and its sprawling grounds merge into yet another artistic fragment from this artists rich memory bank.
Art, history, architecture, cosmology, science, dolls, portraits and people all find a rightful place in this fantastic world conjured by Colleen Philippi.