July 22 – September 2, 2022
The Main Gallery
Calgary’s contemporary visual arts community is a pluralistic phenomenon, identifiable by the rich diversity of artistic styles, individual goals, and innovative studio practices. The Calgary-based Group 9 is indicative of the stylistic and conceptual pluralism in the visual arts milieu of this city. Since its inception in October 2016, Group 9 has evolved and matured under its guiding principles of Unity in Diversity/Diversity in Unity: united in the belief in the Group’s artistic activities and diverse in background, age, and practice. There is an evolving dynamism evident.
The Group 9 (G-9) was formed in 2016 by nine Calgary-based artists led by Seka Owen – a nationally and internationally acclaimed senior abstract painter, art educator, and one of the principal artists of Edmonton’s School of Formalism. The original roster of the founding artists during the formative time for the Group 9 included: Seka Owen, Almut (A.S.T.A.) Dale, Ron Kostyniuk, Jean Pederson, Errol Lee Fullen, Greg Robb, Verna Vogel, Cameron Roberts, and Greg Pyra. The main intention for forming the Group was to provide a forum for artistic, conceptual, and philosophical debates on the current state of contemporary visual culture in Canada and around the globe and to visually articulate and address their concerns through regular art exhibitions and publication projects. The inaugural exhibition “Group 9: The Persistence of Vision” was held in March 2017 at the Collectors’ Gallery of Art in Calgary. After the subsequent departure of Kostyniuk, Fullen, Robb, and Vogel from the G-9, the Group elected and welcomed Cindy Delpart, David Harrison, Susan Kristoferson, and Aaron Sidorenko as the new members of the G-9. After six successful exhibitions in public and commercial art galleries in Western Canada, the Group is proud of its accomplishments and looks forward to opportunities to exhibit nationally and internationally.
Following the difficult period of restricted public access during the Covid-19 pandemic, Group 9 has adopted a positive outlook and has worked toward a vision entitled “Affirming and Transforming.” This exhibition displays works reflecting the results of resilience and fortitude with a vision of affirming the role of the visual arts in our changing society. The Group believes that art is an essential part of all learning and an expression of humanity, transforming a world of wonder coupled with challenge.
The exhibition “Group 9: Affirming and Transforming” is not intended as a comprehensive academic analysis of artmaking in Calgary. It instead offers a quick snapshot of studio trends in Calgary and celebrates the distinctive vision and conceptual direction of each exhibiting artist. The impressive roster of work ranges from the colour-field abstract paintings of Seka Owen and Almut Dale through the lyrical abstraction of Cindy Delpart. It includes the gestural abstraction of Gregory Pyra, abstract compositions meticulously crafted by Susan Kristoferson in the ancient Japanese technique of suminagashi marbling, and the post-Structuralist compositions of David Harrison. These works are strategically balanced with the metaphoric paintings by Jean Pederson and Aaron Sidorenko and figurative wire sculptures by Cameron Roberts.
Seka Owen (RCA, ASA) has been regarded by art historians and critics as one of Alberta’s and Western Canada’s most important and prolific abstract painters and a major contributor to Canadian contemporary art. She has also made her mark internationally. In Owen’s paintings, the theme is the content. There is a total lack of recognizable imagery. Her aim has been to eliminate the subject, with each painting standing sufficient in itself, without reference to the external world. Owen’s works are composed of assemblages of a rich colouristic palette, sometimes superimposed to create different colour qualities. In her most recent series, “Less Equals More” and “Near and Far Away,” paint is applied in several layers. The light in the layers is refracting through to achieve the unusual and often dramatic colour effects. The colour field in both of Owen’s series evokes the universe, the infinite, and completely lacks any texture or sense of human intervention. On the other hand, the horizontal ‘zips’
in the works convey the painter’s presence and spatially establish the individual’s relation to the wider order of things. Owen has never been involved in decorative arts. Rather, she has employed minimum means to achieve maximum meaning. She has used her ‘zips’ sometimes to limit, sometimes to define, and sometimes to inflect colour, and in her larger works the viewer is enveloped by shaped emanations of colour and light. For Seka Owen, painting has always been a way of practicing the sublime, not communicating it.
Almut (A.S.T.A.) Dale’s (ASA) paintings are art of perpetual and meticulous refinements. It is directly sensual and relies on great subtlety and variety in colour, application, and even structure of forms. In her works, Dale discusses the interrelation of colour and shape, particularly focusing on symbolic and metaphoric attributes of colour. Dale’s three works in the exhibition provide the artist’s commentary on the social situation in society. As Almut Dale says: “… “Straight Talk” is an open and frank commentary on the notion of ‘freedom of speech.’ It is our highly valued and accepted right in a democratic society. Red and orange colours reflect compassion, love, energy, strength, and amusement. Yellow is a colour of spirituality and luminosity. These are dominant life forces that necessitate a balance. “Conflict” provides a commentary on a rift in the society, which resulted from this accepted ‘openness’, and needs immediate healing. “Colour Design” is an attempt to harmonize and unify …”. In her works, Dale has reached for the universal content of human experience through the individual exploration of metaphoric attributes of colour. Almut Dale has developed a remarkably wide emotional range within her limited format, from exuberance to contemplation and foreboding.
Cindy Delpart’s compositions are often associated with lyrical abstraction and have been crafted with the aim of recreating the poetic relationships between human beings and nature. Over the years, Delpart has achieved an identity of the surface and colour in her abstract compositions – making them inseparable – by nearly literally ‘soaking’ the colour into canvas, making it textureless and thus more ’optical’ than tangible. Delpart’s artwork is distinguished by a rigorous concern with pictorial structure, spatial illusion, and colour relationships. Her paintings feature simple shapes, bold colour contrasts, a dynamic balance between restrained and boldly gestural brushworks, and a continued visual dialogue between formal and emotional approaches to artmaking. Her most recent works, “Remembering You”, “No Looking Back”, “Remembering Old Times”, and “Silenced” that are presented in the exhibition feature a brighter and broader palette, and more dynamic gestural brushwork than in her previous series. As the artist says, “conceptually, they reflect the society’s resilience during the challenging times of the pandemic”. Yet they maintain Cindy Delpart’s continued artistic dialogue between strictly formal compositions of European modernism and the most spontaneous, emotional, and expressive methods of abstract expressionism, to which latter principles the artist’s works more naturally gravitate.
Gregory Pyra’s (ASA) painting style has changed gradually from representational idiom to abstract expressionist/gestural abstraction. The latter idiom has allowed the artist to focus on gestural, repetitive form and metaphoric attributes of colour in his recent body of work, in which he used myriad tumultuous cubes of multicoloured elements, facetted with a palette knife or spatula, to create powerful atmospheres on his canvases through voluminous impasto and a range of gloss. This recent series of abstract oil paintings of extremely heavy consistency – in which controlled randomness allows for the appearance of a spiritual, ‘inner landscape’ or what the French surrealist artists called an ‘inscape’ – reflects the artist’s continued interest in oriental philosophy, which views painting as a refined form of meditation. As Gregory Pyra says, “inner growth is essential to our survival as happy, healthy individuals. As an artist, I am determined to search for the inner self and to grow in awareness of the self”. The titles of Pyra’s works, “The Fourth Dimension” is an affirmation in each painting of the artist’s search for that inner self. Each painting is identified with a date (day, month, and year) because each work is part of a continuum at a point in time. The end results are works that provide visible analogies reflecting invisible objects/ideas, permitting contemplation to become visible and take on a tangible form.
Through her artworks, Susan Kristoferson investigates the fissure between the tangible and the intangible. Everything that Kristoferson creates is based on the relationship of parts. The relationships might be personal, environmental, socio-political, philosophical, colour and design, or even the ones that derive from aspects of astrophysics or molecular science. For Kristoferson, it is the relationships between parts, between molecules and people that are the basis of and important elements in all aspects of life. Susan Kristoferson specializes in surface design processes for paper, ranging from Japanese itajime (fold and tie-dye) through the historic book arts technique of paste painted papers, which utilize a cooked starch paste as the medium or carrier for acrylic paint, to the ancient Japanese technique of suminagashi marbling. She creates both small and large collages, panels of uniquely patterned papers, and abstract compositions meticulously crafted using unique papers. Suminagashi is one of the oldest forms of paper marbling art. Originating in China over 2,000 years ago, it was practiced by the Japanese Shinto priests in the 12th century for purposes of divination. “Complex and Turbulent Times”, Kristoferson’s most recent series of work, has been created for this exhibition using this ancient technique. Suminagashi marbling uses a very specific type of liquid ink and a surfactant in a saturated brush tip sequentially touching the surface of a tray of still water. The slightest movement of air currents, vibrations of the water tray, and drawing tools introduced to the water surface influence the movement of the ink on the water. When satisfied with the visual characteristics of the ink on the water, a sheet of a particular type of paper with high wet strength is quickly and gently lain onto the water to pick up the ink, thereby creating a monoprint. The calm, meditative suminagashi technique in Kristoferson’s prints is used for its’ metaphoric attributes. They provide the artist’s commentary on complex and turbulent times with global geopolitical conflicts, competing environmental interests, and diversity within political, social, and cultural settings. Here, the physical tensions between water and ink printed on pre-patterned papers become metaphors that represent the dynamics of our times.
Next to gestural abstract art and any other forms of non-representational idiom, geometric abstract art or geometric abstraction has stood as part of a greater camp of expression, which aimed to depict the non-representational and the non-objective through the means of painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, installation, architecture, and other artistic disciplines.
David Harrison (ASA, CSPW, SCA) has been a long-time practitioner of geometric abstraction. Harrison’s post-Structuralist works – as exemplified in the exhibition by his trio of works from the “Inner Tension” – reflect the artist’s ongoing investigation of the inter-relationship between form and content, spatial concerns, the properties of the medium, and incorporation of pure science in the object of art. For Harrison, geometric abstraction is about hidden meanings, analogies, and deliberate simplification to prove that everything complicated is simple. In reality, the viewer sees a set of geometric shapes, grids, patterns, and points and lines in his works. But in the world of art and the inner world of the artist, each of these elements has its own, hidden meaning. As Harrison says, “… being a practitioner of Tai Chi I understand energy flow. Investigating magnetic lines of force have been a lifelong fascination, as has the Earth’s hidden energy flow shaping both our physical and personal worlds. It is this hidden energy force which directs my image-making in both objective and non-objective configurations.” In Harrison’s “Inner Tension” series, geometric grids have become a starting point of investigations into melding both graphite and watercolour media together with the heavy incising of lines and the use of perforation to reinforce the image. This approach has then progressed into crafting large colour fields with multiple overlays of powdered graphite and air brushed screens in his compositions. According to Harrison, “the evolution of grids, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, have shown a growing tension with exterior forces being evident, and the imagery becoming non-objective.”
For several years, Jean Pederson (CSPW, AWS) has contributed to social criticism in contemporary Alberta art through an expressive body of work, and especially through the art of portraiture with its own symbology and socio-political context. Her work is figurative and abstract, painterly, and metaphorical. Typically, Pederson starts her paintings by first setting down the movement with fast gestural strokes in black and then cutting black with white, modifying and clarifying the idea. Eventually, the contours and drips are modulated at the end of the painting process, and it is these areas that carry the most expressive content in the compositions. As Pederson says, “working monochromatically and using one medium, watercolour, on Yupo paper (plastic paper) provided an exciting, intimate method to achieve my intentions. Yupo resists watercolour allowing mark-making in both additive and reductive techniques to render my imagery”. The “Faces” – the suite of nine portrait paintings presented in this exhibition are based on people whom she has met or who have impacted her. Pederson wants the viewer to engage with the visible and the tangible, as well as the suggested and the allegorical. In her paintings, she evokes her own experiences with the search for transcendence from the material reality. Fascinated with the concept of transmutation and the beauty of imperfection, in her latest series of works, she rejects the idea of order and purity to explore the frailty of being human but also its capability of regeneration and reconstruction.
Aaron Sidorenko’s figurative works, especially his art of portraiture, reflect the artist’s continued search for the human essence in the economically and politically charged world. For Sidorenko, portraits can engage attention, evoke emotions, and hold a level of relatability, unlike any other genre. The nature and the formal character of his portraits reflect the artist’s response to the profound events and experiences that are taking place not only globally but also around us. Aaron’s work brings together diverse impulses in a unique contemporary pictorial vision. His paintings are often built up in many layers, scraped back, and reworked multiple times, weaving together bold brushstrokes of vivid colour and cool neutral tones. His work “Pentimenti” takes the term ‘pentimento’ to a visual and conceptual metaphor level. In painting, a pentimento is referred to the presence or emergence of earlier images, forms, or strokes that have been changed and painted over. Pentimentimay show that a composition originally planned had an element, for example, a head or a hand, in a slightly different place or that an element no longer in the final painting was originally planned. Sidorenko’s work features a portrait of an old woman. This poignant work depicts a sense of passage with a face that suggests sacrifice and hard work. The work combines technical precision with a feeling of mystery of an old person looking into the distance, assessing her life, or maybe pondering the future, while the element of a pentimento in this work metaphorically manifests the artist’s debate on the cycle of life and the quest for respect and meaningful place for humankind in a globalized society. In this work, Aaron Sidorenko follows the categorical imperative of the transitory moment of human existence and attempts to unravel the profane as well as the divine that is in us: the authenticity of our being and the empirical dimension of our existence, distress and ecstasy, fear and serenity, evil and goodness.
The emotional interpretation of the condition of humankind in the globalized society has also been addressed in the figurative wire sculptures of Cameron Roberts (ASA). His copper wire sculptures are, in essence, three-dimensional drawings. Each piece of copper wire is an individual dimensional line. Each individual line is an abstract expression, and, together, the lines become form. Time is represented by the suggestion that there is no beginning and no end. Like apparitions, the form appears within the flow. It might come as a surprise, but one of the effective ways to duplicate the intricate movement of the human form is to use cold, thin wires. In the 20th century, the works of Alexander Calder, Ruth Asawa, and other modern practitioners developed the medium of wire sculpture as an art form. Cameron Roberts demonstrates his competency and conceptual virtuoso in creating wire sculptures that resemble the most intriguing human forms and their metaphorical attributes, as featured in “Endurance”, “Journey”, and “Bolt”. Roberts’s sculpted wire figures concentrate on human nature’s expressive and emotional dynamics. As the artist says, “… “Endurance” is a depiction of the figure carrying the burdens of humankind and the weights of the world upon her. The weights symbolize the nefarious deeds and injustices; those
crimes of the innocent and the vulnerable. Acceptance and transformation of ourselves in our present-day world is the hope for our future …. “Journey” features the phases of a woman’s life: passion, strength, resilience, wisdom, and self-discovery…. “Bolt” reflects my passion in the human form. The piece depicts weight, strength, speed, resilience, and balance. These traits of the body are difficult to capture in any medium, especially in copper wire …”. Cameron Roberts’s exemplary work alludes to basic truths drawn from human experience, which are condensed into fundamental visual metaphors and signs.
The exhibition embraces the rich philosophical and conceptual diversity in a collection of over 30 works by nine Calgary-based visual artists and art educators. The Group is an interaction in diversity, intensely curious about the world in which we find ourselves today. The members are molded by their unique experiences and individuality and collectively strive to understand the function of art within today’s world. Their works – in all their richness and diversity – serve not only to reflect stylistic and formalistic trends and directions in Calgary’s visual arts milieu and the region but also allow the artists the opportunity to add their voices to a larger discourse, namely that of major international trends.
Asta was born in Germany and had her primary and secondary schooling during and after the Second World War. She lived 8 years in London, England and moved to Calgary in 1966. She studied at Alberta College of Art with a completion of a Diploma in Fine Arts in 1982 and continued at the University of Calgary with a BFA in 1989.
All my works are based on philosophical thoughts, life experiences and the environment. The intension is an exploration of form and colour in an intuitive and fluid manner. Compassion and love is red and presents goodness, satisfaction, determination and courage. Yellow is the colour of transformation that creates a sense of luminosity and spirituality. Bright colours create a positive emotion and this affirmation is a very important part in my work. In some works I added text to emphasize a point.
Cindy Delpart was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1954. She studied Graphic Design in Toronto, Ontario and in 1978 settled in Calgary. Over the years she attended part-time studies at Alberta College of Art and Design, as well as, numerous workshops and residencies at Emma Lake, Saskatchewan and Taos, New Mexico. Delpart has participated in numerous solo and group shows in both Canada and the Unites States. In addition to Alberta Foundations for the Arts her work can be found in many private and corporate collections, including: Cenovus Energy, Conoco Phillips, UFA Co-op, Encana and Pason Systems. Delpart is represented at Masters Gallery in Calgary.
Abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell believed artists present their own feelings and emotions directly on the canvas. For me, abstract expressionism is all about conveying to canvas the power and passion of my inner self, energized by my response to the prairie landscape. Painting in its best moments takes me from the physical world to a place of personal imagination and introspection.
David worked as an art educator in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada and has been a sessional instructor at both the Universities of Calgary and Lethbridge.
An active member of both the Alberta Society of Artists and the Society of Canadian Artists, David has been successful in having work accepted into national and international juried exhibition as well as juried provincial traveling exhibitions. He has won national awards for his work. He attended two Emma Lake workshops.
David works with ‘alien material’ in the form of deteriorating urban graffiti. His work with newly harvested materials uses subtle colours and textures in reorganizing and preparing them into complex geometric matrices which redefine abstraction and engage the viewer without recognizable external reference. His work which has been described by critics as “intellectually stimulating, conceptually complex, and meditative. It has an impressive and rigorously experimental style”.
Susan Kristoferson specializes in surface design processes on paper such as itajime (Japanese fold, clamp, and dye) and hand painted “paste papers”. Her work has been in nearly 200 exhibitions across North and South America, Japan, and South Korea. She lives and works in Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada.
Susan earned a BFA from the University of Texas and an MFA in Fibre Arts from Indiana University. A professional artist since 1975, she has been a school art teacher, an art professor at Miami University in Ohio, a sessional instructor at universities in Oregon, and the Head of Fibre and Paper Arts at Oregon College of Arts and Crafts in Portland. She now occasionally teaches adult workshops and as an artist in residence in schools. Susan is inspired by the long distance view from her home and creates unique landscape “paintings” and abstract images using the papers she has made, painted, dyed and collected during the past 40 years.
Seka Owen, RCA has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions across Canada, as well as internationally. Her works are found in numerous private and corporate collections across Canada and abroad.
In 1977, Seka received a BFA from the University of Alberta, Canada . She has received numerous scholarships and grants.
In 2005, she was inducted into The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts for her outstanding artistic achievements in the visual arts.
In 2016, Seka was instrumental in forming Group Nine(G9) and its’ foundation.
In the process of my work I need to possess a keen sense of my own direction and identity.
For me, painting is the essence of the things which I have seen, experienced and learned. In other words, it is the interpretation of my inner world which my senses have transmitted to me and my subconscious memory has retained.
To paint a picture is an exploratory extension of my own observations and interest in the world.
Jean Pederson is an accomplished and innovative artist, author and educator working in watercolour, acrylic and mixed media. Layering her mediums and obscuring portions of subsequent layers has been a foundation to her painting process. Jeans subjects may vary. The core of each painting begins with an idea that is then interpreted through layers of paint, collage and mark making.
Her work has been featured in many periodicals and she has authored two instructional books. Jean has also contributed to several of the “Splash” series and other books, and contributed as a guest blogger for the Artist Network.
Ms. Pederson has received numerous awards nationally and internationally, her work is included in the Royal Collection in Windsor, England and the International Watercolour Museum in Fabriano, Italy. Most recently, Jean was awarded The Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal from the Canada Council of the Arts.
Greg Pyra, (born 1957) obtained a BFA from the University of Saskatchewan and an MFA from the University of Calgary. He has taught art at the Universities of Guelph, Waterloo, and Victoria and at several public schools.
He lived for three years in Cologne, West Germany in the 80’s during the height of the cold war. Pyra has exhibited his paintings both nationally and internationally in a career that has spanned more than forty years.
My paintings explore the life of the inner self. Change and transition have become the focus of my paintings because they are unceasing both within and without (as universal qualities). The rotation in my works is perhaps related to the earth’s daily rotation while our home planet continues its orbital rotation around the sun. These magnificent elements of existence are also an expression of energy in transition.
Roberts is a Calgary based artist born in Edmonton, Alberta. He is a figurative artist and is known for his diversity across a multitude of mediums. “Learning to portray the human form complete with beauty, character, emotion, sensuality and all the qualities that bring us together in our relating to one another, is a true challenge, one that takes a lifetime to learn”. The figure, with its many moods and dynamic forms of expression will always be a source of inspiration to his artistic vision. Roberts work is influenced by and is reminiscent of the Renaissance masters and has been referred to as, “Renaissance Contemporary”. His works exhibit masterful mark making and sensitivity.
Roberts is a great believer and champion of, the gift and the power of creativity. The gift of creativity does not reside within the works you create, it resides within you so that you may discover the truth and nature of “Self”.
Aaron Sidorenko is a painter living and working in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He works with pigments within a variety of binders – gum arabic, silicon, acrylic, encaustic and walnut oil, to name a few.
Sidorenko is personally exploring effects that help transit a spectrum of mood in dealing with portraiture and figuration as the central subject.
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