The New Ice Age: Douglas Coupland and the spell on landscapes
Artist Douglas Coupland is exploring changing landscapes in his current exhibition “The New Ice Age”, on display at the Daniel Faria Gallery in Toronto. On view until December 16, the collection marks Coupland’s seventh solo exhibition with the gallery.
Coupland is a Canadian novelist, designer and visual artist. He has been widely recognized for his first best selling novel, Generation X: Tales for An Accelerated Culture, but Coupland has also published thirteen novels since 1991. Inspired by themes of life and meaning, Coupland’s recognition extends across all his creative endeavours.
Coupland’s artwork explores technology’s influence on life, catching the eyes of various Canadian museums. His retrospectives have found homes at the Vancouver Art Gallery, The Royal Ontario Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Bit Rot at Rotterdam’s Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art and Munich’s Villa Stücke.
The New Ice Age
Today, Coupland explores the spell on landscapes through this conceptual painting series inspired by ecology and observed changes to landscapes. The concept behind the series of paintings began a few years ago when Coupland read the words “Monsanto mon863” on a sign outside a field of corn. Realizing he was looking at a genetically modified corn variant, the artist began analyzing other landscapes like the glaciers and icebergs of Baffin Island and how they might be affected by change. His paintings spark questions about what is and isn’t genetically modified and how change defines our landscapes and natural organisms overtime.
Inspired by his interest in ideas surrounding ecology, the use of gesture mimics movement and change of the environments which surround us. This aspect invites viewers into the paintings, encouraging them to think and feel about the movement occuring in real time.
Though embracing flat colours and geometric shapes, Coupland’s paintings still allow for movement. With oil and acrylic paint on canvas, he creates a gestural reflection beneath each iceberg, representative of each piece. Some featured work in the exhibit includes “Tobacco Iceberg”, “Lavender Peace” and “French’s Mustard with Strawberry Sauce”.
“Tobacco Iceberg” appears as a polluted environment. Though up for interpretation, this piece consists of a chaotic arrangement of shapes, displaying the ideas behind chemical change. The use of muted colour adds to the painting’s stain effect, which is often brought on by tobacco.
“Lavender Peace” brings a calming contrast to other paintings in this collection. With soft purple hues and calm waters, this piece contains less expressive shape than Tobacco Iceberg, but still suggests movement in the way the iceberg leans.
“French’s Mustard with Strawberry Sauce” incorporates the saturated colours of food-related packaging with a natural landscape. The contrast between processed consumer-based products with nature is clear though its blending of red, yellow, white and blue.
The Coupland way
Coupland always expressed interest in the ways of nature and human life. In “The New Ice Age”, the wide array of icebergs show how this nature can be altered. His relationship with technology and its influence on the natural world continues to translate into his work, inviting viewers to look closely at environments around them and how they might change.
Enjoyed reading about The New Ice Age? Read Woven Stories: Image consumption through the eyes of artist Barbara Astman.
Stephanie Beattie is a Glossi Mag contributor.
In her final year of journalism school at Toronto Metropolitan University, Stephanie loves painting, Bob Dylan and caramel lattes.