I was recently invited to a tourism event at the Vancouver Art Gallery revolving around the presentation of summer exhibits. The star of the show, occupying the entire first floor, is called "Vermeer, Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art". It left me cold. I’ve never really liked Rembrandt and the paintings are too dark for my taste, even though a few were interesting from a lighting perspective (yes, I relate everything to photography…)
I was going to leave it at that and enjoy my sangria in the loud crowded lobby without tackling any of the remaining 3 floors when our host Joshua pointed out the photo exhibit on the third floor. "Andreas Gursky", he said, obviously expecting the lightning of revelation to strike me. It didn’t. I had never heard of the guy. "Do yourself a favor", Joshua added, "check him out. He does large scale photographs." "Ok," I decided, and finishing my glass, I climbed up to the third floor.
Boy am I glad I did. Gursky, a German artist, favours enormous images and is compiling what he calls an "encyclopedia of life". There are a lot of aerial shots and although many of his photographs were actually presented in smaller versions for this exhibition – and for the first time it appears, not sure why – they remain captivating. The larger ones, a few meters long, are plain and simple fascinating. He shamelessly enhances his images digitally and achieves wonderful results without losing his documentary style.
His work isn’t for every one, I would say. But he excels at what he does and his art left me both humbled and motivated. The exhibit is well worth visiting if you are so inclined. Start with the third floor. If time and energy remain, you can still visit the rest. The paintings are so old, they surely can wait a little longer.