Two mixed-media sculptors who met for the first time while setting up new shows at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery discovered unique parallels between their bodies of work.
“I follow Daniel Laskarin on Instagram and I was so excited when I found out that [gallery manager Christina Symons] had selected our exhibitions to run concurrently,” said artist Shirley Wiebe. “In meeting him and talking with him, we discovered a wonderful synergy. In a way, we both made work that makes itself — you start and it evolves, running the show, telling you what to create next.”
Vancouver-based Wiebe and Laskarin, who lives in Victoria and teaches at the University of Victoria, inaugurated their respective shows during a public reception at the gallery on Aug. 27.
Laskarin’s eight installations together compose a show titled The Remains of a Natural Condition. His sculptures involve found objects — driftwood, rough-hewn cord, spindly-legged platforms — that connect storied pasts to a precarious present. In broken, as if open, a ceramic doll with its skull agape ushers visitors into the gallery. In the future is untold, a metal hand crank issues the twisted tendrils of a tree branch whose wooden sinews are spliced with metal joinery.
“There’s a condition of uncertainty that I think infuses a lot of my practice,” said Laskarin, who during 11 years as a helicopter engineer acquired skills in metal fabrication. “I’m constantly juggling my own technical competence with intellectual or imagined doubt. I think that uncertainty is really profoundly important. If we can bridge substance and ineffability, we open the door to something we don’t know yet.”
The passage of time is an invisible force in many of Laskarin’s works. In to extend and shift, an age-worn chair sprouts appendages. In a song for my father, a paternal tool chest serves as the rust-speckled plinth for a video loop of a gasping squeezebox.
“I started working on a song for my father probably 10 years ago and it’s only been resolved for two years,” said Laskarin. “Until it leaves my possession, everything is subject to change. Then, as a viewer, you try to move through its strangeness to some kind of solid ground, which itself is a process.”
In Shirley Wiebe’s complementary show Incidental Archive, she also fashions familiar images into composite and elemental forms. In her works 3D Postcards and Nearby, she amalgamates images collected from Sunshine Coast photographers into paper-shaped solids. Responding to air currents, the suspended pictures of 3D Postcards hover and tremble like a cloud of starlings moving in formation.
“I work collaboratively with community in different ways,” Wiebe said. “During COVID, when I proposed this piece, I thought what’s giving meaning to so many people’s lives is just seeing whatever nature’s around them. I thought it would be an interesting way to collaborate with locals without seeing them and have them send me their [nature] photos.”
Wiebe’s collage series Inside Storeys presents architectural fragments through bas-relief photographic studies. In Silent Concert, her talent for assemblage is expressed through a well-tempered latticework. “The first thing I did was work with these keys that I had salvaged from a piano,” she said. “This show is about just working with what’s at hand, which is kind of what I needed to as an artist during COVID when you couldn’t go and buy art supplies.”
Artworks by Daniel Laskarin and Shirley Wiebe are on display at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery until Sept. 18. Additional information is available online at www.gpag.ca.