Curated by Erik Olson
24 FEBRUARY THRU 6 APRIL 2023
VIVIANEART is pleased to present Der / Lalani, curated by Erik Olson, as the 9th edition of HAND PIC’D.
This exhibition brings together the work of two artists, spanning generations of contemporary painting in Alberta. Despite their 40-year age gap, and a marked contrast in material, density, and scale, Dick Der and Omar Lalani are two painters grappling with the inherent dichotomy between their inner self and external reality.
Dick Der was born in China in 1949 and moved to Canada as a one-year-old. His childhood was spent in rural Saskatchewan before moving to Edmonton, where he continues to paint. His compositions are bold and richly pigmented, reminiscent of the collages of Kurt Schwitters and Alberto Burri. Using pieces of cardboard, metallic shavings, and recovered industrial detritus, Der integrates weighty materials into his work. Initially appearing to be modernist abstractions, his paintings may be more poignantly read as topographical landscape portraits. Drawing from his prairie upbringing, Der’s pieces present aerial impressions of a grided landscape, encompassing vast agricultural expanses, as well as sites of unrelenting resource extraction. Der strains and extends his materials, suggesting the enduring beauty of place amidst the relentlessness of human development.
Omar Lalani, in contrast, was born 40 years later in Toronto, but similarly moved to Alberta as a child. Lalani paints with oil on canvas in quick brushstrokes and with a lightness of touch that floats above land, place, and space. A flurry of colourful markings at once suggests neural synapses, as well as aerial views of rivers in eroded valleys. Lalani’s work, like Der’s, inhabits the boundary between abstraction and representation, somewhere between the inner mind and the outer landscape. Although clearly informed by the history of expressionism and abstraction, Lalani’s paintings may also be read as portraits of individuals. The personas in his paintings represent a younger generation, in the process of contextualizing their sense of self, place, and meaning in the 21st century.
There is a palpable dynamism between the powerful and grounded work of Der, and the vibrant and spontaneous brushwork of Lalani. These two artists, though representing different times in Canadian painting, are tied by a shared context of place and the expression of an evolving conflict and synergy of mind, body, and geography.
– Erik Olson
Known mainly for his paintings, Erik Olson maintains an interest in curation and exhibition design. Having self-curated his first painting exhibition in 2007 at an abandoned gas station, He went on to found IDEAL, an informal artist space in Calgary. IDEAL hosted over 14 exhibitions with both local Calgary artists as well as artists from as far away as Mexico City, and San Francisco.
Olson earned a bachelor’s degree from Emily Carr University of Art + Design (2007). In 2014/2015 he attended the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf as a guest student of Peter Doig. In the fall of 2018, Olson’s works were featured in Cosmos, an exhibition organized by the Glenbow Museum. Olson has been the subject of solo exhibitions in cities across Canada, Europe and the United States. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton.
His work is represented by VIVIANEART, Calgary and Luis De Jesus, Los Angeles.