David Pirrie: Risk Analysis
Douglas Udell Gallery
Vancouver BC June 14-28, 2008
David Pirrie, Howse Peak (2008), oil on panel [Douglas Udell Gallery, Vancouver BC, Jun 14-28]
Late-18th-century artists introduced the idea that the horrors of the mountain environment could also be enticingly beautiful. The resulting nostalgia for distant snow-capped peaks has dominated western art for more than 200 years.
Vancouver-born artist David Pirrie goes beyond the romance of the "mountain as vista" to a deliberate conceptual approach. He poses each peak in BC's Coastal Range as a formal, precise object of study.
His carefully rendered, quantifiable images are almost clinical, like computerized architectural renderings. By taking each mountain top in isolation, he seems to be providing an act of scientific cataloguing. By setting each one against a monochrome field or geometric patterning, he also creates a kind of technical meditation on the fields of topography and mapping.
Pirrie's recurring theme for 15 years has been that of the isolated object captured at a point of impact or breakdown. He has painstakingly presented us with disembodied figures, car crashes and mountain peaks slowly crumbling. Within the detailed rocky escarpments of Risk Analysis are glimpses of the geological disintegration that fascinate him. In the early 21st Century, his work points to the horrors of earthquakes and other imminent geological collapse.
David Pirrie earned a Diploma of Studio Arts in 1988 at Capilano College, North Vancouver, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1993 at Montreal's Concordia University. With exhibition titles like Risk Analysis, Western Drift, Subduction Zone and The Loneliest Highway, he literally positions us on the existential and geological edges of the earth.