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Chris Woods: The Magic Hour

Diane Farris Gallery
Vancouver BC Jun 3-20, 2004

Madeline Wood - Four on the Move
Chris Woods, Five Star General (2002), oil on canvas [Diane Farris Gallery, Vancouver BC, Jun 3-20]

Chris Woods is an all-Canadian artist who takes on mall culture as easily as the Stations of the Cross. The contradictions in his subject matter lampoon modern consumer life. Simultaneously, his images have a kind of rhapsodic mysticism. This has lent itself well to earlier pieces that integrated pop culture and liturgical high art.

Woods has been described as “a postmodernist Norman Rockwell”. Whether parodying Coca Cola, the Gap, Burger King, Calvin Klein or Dairy Queen, Woods, a self-taught painter from Chilliwack, BC, paints himself, his wife and friends into his visual narratives using a high-realist photographic style. His images have a comfortable, neighbourly feeling, yet clearly are filled with uncertainty, incommunicability and anarchy.

Woods has shown at Diane Farris since 1991. His eagerly-awaited new body of work, The Magic Hour - Part One, accesses the visual language of car advertising. The series originated during Woods' mixed media project Billboard, in which he considered the gulf between what car advertisers promise and what cars actually deliver. The title, Magic Hour, is derived from a photographer’s term describing the blissful quality of ambient light immediately following sunset. The lighting is popular with car advertisers for the way it conjures complimentary touches of glory and wistfulness. Unfortunately, utopic visions of car ownership more frequently are belied by real-life actualities of road rage, construction zones, escalating gas prices and traffic jams. Woods’ narratives, although set in warm and glowing light, therefore contain symbols of war and conflict: swords and shields, bows and arrows, military generals and armored knights.

Mia Johnson

All material © 1996–2006  Wed, Jun 2, 2004