Realms II exhibit review

By in Culture

The Gordon Snelgrove Gallery started off the year with Realms II — an abstract, whimsical exhibition that runs until Jan. 12. Curated by U of S graduate Jon Vaughn, the exhibit features almost 100 artists.

Functioning as a looking glass into the esthetics of contemporary art, the exhibit appeals to a youthful audience with its quirky, witty designs. The prints are fun and modern — edgy yet bubbly all at once.

Realms II features work from almost 100 artists.

While I did some research on the show, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I was equally surprised and delighted by my first impression. Realms II at first appeared to be akin to a showcase by a high school AP art class, with the prints held up by small black binder clips.

A number of works were visually overwhelming, featuring cluttered spaces with shapes congregated in giant masses, which rendered this section of the exhibit strange — an organized chaos. A handful of illustrations featured monster-creatures, both grotesque and cool, as their subject matter, while others featured everyday people, objects and even ghosts.

Many of these works were imported either from close neighbours or from overseas — including Europe, Mexico, South America, Japan and China. This is, in part, why the exhibit was not completed before its doors opened to the public. The Gordon Snelgrove Gallery website stated that the exhibit would begin showing on Jan. 3, but doors opened on Jan. 8.

When I spoke to Vaughn, he had just been in the midst of setting up the labels for the show — he’d received a package from an artist that very morning and was expecting more to come.

The diversity of the pieces showcases the kinds of designs one would find in independent zines and magazines. Some resemble the esthetic visuals and designs of Rookie magazine and i-D magazine, and some even look like they’d have a chance as potential candidates for the next Grimes album cover.

Despite this lo-fi feel, Vaughn curated the exhibit in an immeasurably cool, casual and trendy way. Realms II features notable artists such as Tetsunori Tawaraya, Elevator Teeth, Yusuke Nagaoka and Lasse Wandschneider, to name a few among many.

You’ll find a number of attention- grabbing oddities in the exhibit that’ll either make you smile or raise your eyebrows. The exhibit as a whole is a playful assortment of colour palettes in diverse graphic expressions designed to draw attention away from the grey tones of the winter cold.

As you walk through the gallery, you’ll notice a stark contrast between the works — a unique variety that blends together thematically, yet each piece also acts as an intriguing artwork on its own. Some pieces are very neat in their use of geometric shapes and minimalist design, while others are more complicated and busy.

In addition to having curated the exhibit, Vaughn showcases his own talents as an artist — a visual artist, graphic designer and printer, musician and DJ. The visual flow makes sense, as the execution and organization of the exhibit were clearly crafted by someone well versed, engaged and experienced in the visual and performing arts.

On Jan. 12 at 7 p.m., the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery will host a free reception for Realms II for the public, which will feature a performance by local musician respectfulchild.

To keep up with Vaughn and his work, visit his web page on tumblr.com under the user jonvaughn2.

Cleo Nguyen

Photo: Laura Underwood / Layout Manager