Fragments, Photographs, 1981-85
26 January – 24 March 2002
in Gairloch Gardens
Organized and circulated by Presentation House Gallery
While chiefly known today for his large colour photographs depicting what he has termed the "Landscape of Economy," Vancouver artist Roy Arden's first body of photographic work was of a more personal and lyrical nature. This exhibition of colour photographs by Arden presents selected images from Fragments, images made between 1981 and 1985. Arden produced these portraits and details of urban texture in Vancouver, Paris, Geneva and Berlin.
As a young artist with a good knowledge of the history of art photography, Arden sought to develop a vision that was personal yet not autobiographical. His stylistic influences were largely European - the Bauhaus, Surrealism and the photographs of Wols in particular. His portraits of friends, Vancouver poets and artists tend to focus on particular physical characteristics like a "larger than normal" ear or the colour of sunlight on skin. Other subjects include forlorn corners of the city and vitrines inhabited by hopeless commodities, rendered in deeply saturated colour with a shallow focus. Arden has written that he wanted Fragments to be "full of flesh and things" in these pictures, bodies and objects seem to tumble forward out of darkness and into appearance. The tenor of Fragments is both melancholic and erotic. The eroticism is not produced by the subject matter so much as by the artist's vision.
While smaller selections from Fragments were exhibited in Vancouver and Geneva between 1983 and 1985, this Presentation House Gallery exhibition, curated by Karen Love, marks the first showing of this work in a decade and a half, and offers a more considered view of Arden's earliest work.