555 Hamilton St
Eleanor Bond is a Winnipeg artist who is recognized internationally for her large-scale oil paintings of urban landscapes in which a labyrinth of forms include both the actual and the imaginary. Although Bond’s paintings do not represent a specific built environment, their starting point is a specific urban place, space and landscape. Research undertaken in Vancouver during February of 1999, when Bond spent ten days walking and driving throughout Vancouver and its environs making photographic and video documentation, influenced the two new works Becoming the Glass City and Taking Shelter in the City of Tents. Similar projects and exhibitions were undertaken in 1995, at the Witte de Witte Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam; and in 1998, at the Salzburg Kunstverein in Salzburg, Austria. The point of departure for Elevated Living in a Community-Built Neighbourhood (1998) was an artist residency in Windsor and Detroit.
Bond’s physiognomy of the urban environment are ambiguous tableaux of both form and content. The urban landscape is characterized as a fluidity and plasticity of space, rather than a view of the city from a coherent and single position, or as a whole. This dynamic spatial representation is often achieved in the paintings through a bird’s-eye view combined with the absence of a horizon; instead sky and land, sky and architecture, sea and land unite in indistinct fields of colour. As interventions into the coherence of fixed structures, Bond’s paintings often seek out the edges of places and represent the urban landscape as syntactically unstable. Her paintings are therefore value-laden presentations of human experiences within modernity and conditions of urbanism, architecture and dwelling. This sense of metropolis is marked by a rootlessness in which technological development has created a new concept of space and social forms, or an experience of space that constitutes the foundation of new architecture, of interior and exterior, and private and public space.
This disorientation of space struggles to deny a singular instrumentality, or what Bond clearly views as disciplinary effects of the urban landscape at the cusp of the millennium. If Bond’s visuality of place and space within the urban environment seems merely the capacity of the imagination to create models of constructed space, a form of architecture, it is useful to remember that the architecture of the Renaissance was painted before it was built.
Guest curated by Petra Watson