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Sean Alward: Doppleganger
Elizabeth MacKenzie: Reunion

Richmond Art Gallery
Richmond BC Thru Apr 15, 2004

Sean Alward - Reconstruction (Uzbek)
Sean Alward, Reconstruction (Uzbek) (detail) (2003), c-print photogram, [Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond BC,
thru Apr 15]

The Richmond Art Gallery presents two very different exhibits that deal with concepts of portraiture. Both artists, Sean Alward and Elizabeth MacKenzie, treat the genre with unusual techniques and materials that raise more questions about the nature of portraiture than they address.

The work of UBC’s MFA graduate Sean Alward is based in part on images of deposed Soviet officials. He creates photograms of their faces by arranging thousands of poppy seeds on photograph paper then exposing the compositions to light and printing the results. Like “dopplegängers” or ghostly apparitions or a body double, the negative drawings produced by the areas covered with seeds reveal shady nuances of the faces. Other portraits, painted in shellac, appear like spooky apparitions through the layers.

Elizabeth MacKenzie - Reunion
Elizabeth MacKenzie, Reunion (2003-04), installation detail, graphite on vellum [Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond BC, thru Apr 15]

Vancouver artist Elizabeth Mackenzie has practiced professionally since 1980. Her confident handling of sensitive subject matter shows her skills to advantage. Taking as a starting point one photograph of her mother in middle age, MacKenzie has redrawn the image repeatedly. Each sketch represents a gestural and intuitive response to the photograph. As viewers walk along the gallery walls and scan the rows of drawings, some of which were created directly on the walls, a flickering portrait emerges and appears to dissolve from one image into the next.


Mia Johnson

 Wed, Apr 7, 2004