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Valerie Sonnier, In Search of Lost Time, Vancouver

Shannon Oksanen and Valerie Sonnier: In Search of Lost Time

UNIT/PITT Projects, Vancouver
September 7 to October 6, 2012

Opening reception and book launch, Friday September 14, 8pm
Curated by Myfanwy MacLeod.

UNIT/PITT Projects launches a new season of programming at 15 East Pender Street with an exhibition by Shannon Oksanen and French artist Valerie Sonnier, curated by Myfanwy MacLeod. This exhibition is accompanied by a three-volume publication, comprising artists’ books by Valerie Sonnier and Shannon Oksanen, and a critical volume by Myfanwy MacLeod. Join us on Friday, September 14 for the publication launch and opening reception. UNIT/PITT will also be open extended hours on the evening of Friday, September 7.

This exhibition explores various points of intersection between the works of these two artists. Oksanen’s work draws heavily on French film. From Robert Bresson’s Une Femme Douce to Albert Lamorisse’s The Red Balloon, these films frequently act as the basis for her paintings and inspiration for her own films that she frames within the context of craft-based practice. Her interest in craft and the handmade also extends to her painting and sculptural works. This is evident in her most recent sculptures shown at Union Gallery (London) earlier this year in her exhibition Sculptress. These sculptures pay homage to the sculptural works of Cy Twombly, Alexander Calder’s small playful works, Paul Klee’s puppets, and Franz West’s papier maché sculptures. Oksanen will be exhibiting new sculptural works.

Much of Valerie Sonnier’s work is also film-based. She has used a series of home movies from her own childhood to create drawings and paintings, as well as creating several 8mm films of her own using a child’s toy truck. Her drawings are akin to elaborate storyboards for films that illustrate an often strange and disturbing relationship between the little truck and several other vintage toys that Sonnier bought at a local flea market. Her most recent film, Pas sous la neige, will be shown for the first time in Vancouver. The film is set in an abandoned house that once belonged to Sonnier’s parents. It follows a pair of ghosts (her friends dressed up in sheets) as they move from room to room exploring the deserted space.
Putting on puppet shows, playing dress up or with toys are activities that belong to the realm of childhood. As adults, we often leave our imaginative play behind along with our childish fantasies. Through their work, Oksanen and Sonnier try to recuperate the child’s imagination and delight at the simple things in life. Here, the experience and memories of childhood are not forgotten but celebrated.

Shannon Oksanen (b.1967) lives and works in Vancouver. She obtained a degree in art history from the University of British Columbia in 1993. She has exhibited at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; Charles H Scott Gallery, Vancouver; Union Gallery, London; 303 Gallery, New York; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle; Wattis Art Institute, San Francisco; and Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh.

Valerie Sonnier (b.1967) lives and works in Paris. She obtained her Diploma from the Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris in 1993. She is a Professeur de dessin et de morphologie at the Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris. She has exhibited at the Grand Palais in Paris, Museum of Fine Arts in Taiwan, Taipei and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Montréal.