Floe & Thaw: Selda Canoglu + Genevieve Robertson
In honour of Earth Day, Gallery 555 presents a two person online exhibition by artists Selda Canoglu and Genevieve Robertson, both based in British Columbia. Having spent much time in the Rocky Mountains together, this exhibition emerges out of a shared love of these quiet, wild, ice-covered places and the glacial water that runs through them and down to the sea. Through art practice and ongoing conversation, Selda and Genevieve are interested in depicting perspectives both minute and grand; imagining the ineffable scale of geologic time through the movement of rock and ice; and reflecting on the profound sense of stillness that can be found in the mountains and near glacial water.
View Gallery Here: Floe & Thaw Online Exhibition
While Selda's oil paintings depict harsh, rocky environments and the stillness found in the pools of calm water beneath them; Genevieve's abstract works on paper draw inspiration from soft-bodied fossils imbedded in the rock. While tracing the history of an ancient shoreline, she imagines amorphous forms that exist between biology and geology, petrification and liveliness, emergence and decay.
10 Questions with Selda Canoglu and Genevieve Robertson
1. How did you meet and how long have you been friends for?
Selda and I have been friends for ten years. We’ve lived in three provinces together, and traveled to the Yukon, all throughout the Rockies and Ontario, Turkey and New York. I knew we would be friends when I first moved into her place. I was listening to Mazzy Star and she walked in and said “It was that kind of day, was it?” And I thought, this is a character who’s not afraid of being real.
I met Genevieve 10 years ago through a mutual friend when I was looking for a roommate in Halifax, where I lived. We met over the phone as she was in BC at the time. While normally I would have wanted to meet a new roommate in person, I remember having had a very good feeling about Gen. I felt she would make a good roommate, and I suspected a good friend as well. Turns out that was the truth!
2. When did you start making art?
I have always drawn and painted. I was the kid who hung out under the table in elementary school and drew all day. My granddad was an oil painter and I have strong memories of him teaching me how to paint the long shadows that fall across the desert late in the afternoon.
As a child I loved drawing and building all kinds of forts and contraptions. Perhaps we are all artists as children. In my mid 20’s I came back to the visual arts when I was considering different career paths. I decided I wanted to find a balance between a visual arts practice and work in healthcare.
Fish Lungs By Genevieve Robertson
3. Where do you currently live/ where is your studio and how does that affect your work?
I recently moved to the Kooteneys to take a hiatus from life in Vancouver. I live in a tiny round cabin in a cedar grove. The story goes that it was were the cows used to give birth when the property was an operational farm. Waking up to the sound of leaves and water instead of traffic has a profound effect on my inner life. I’m not sure how it will effect my work yet.
I live in Nelson BC in a small house in the woods with a community of neighbours close by. There are walking trails on the mountainous hills behind the house and there is a beach on the lake nearby. I use my home as my studio, and find this setting very conducive to my practice. With ample light and views of forest and the sound of a nearby creek, it’s a calm and quiet environment that feels great to work in. A big benefit of working from home is that I can sit with my paintings as they evolve, look and think about next steps at any time of the day.
4. Do you a have a favourite spot in nature that you return to often, describe it?
The Chehalis River, a tributary of the Fraser River. The spot that I go has huge round rocks, and very clear water. It’s surrounded by tall, mossy coastal forest, always damp. I go there when I need to reassess or reconnect.
This question makes me think of a specific type of place in nature that I love to visit, being hot springs. What a gift these are; warm soaks found in diverse and beautiful natural settings. I’ve visited natural hot springs in Canada, USA, Iceland, Turkey and New Zealand.
Iceline 5 By Selda Canoglu
5. Can you talk a bit about your use of scale, your materials and your creative processes.
My practice explores the material around the body and under the feet: water, oil, wind, silt, flora, fauna and mineral. My drawings are often comprised of found organic materials collected on-site, and map a visceral and long-term engagement with specific regions. I gather, process, and work with natural pigments as a way of entangling myself directly in the process of landscape representation. Whether using found bitumen, botanical dye, silt or seawater, I am interested in linking found, often charged materials to specific regions and the politics of place found therein. For me, scaling up minute biological structures is a way of revealing the beauty and liveliness that is woven through the fabric of the natural world.
Walking out on the shoreline or in the forest is the beginning of my creative process, which leads to recuperative ecologies that are available through long-term place-based exploration, inquisitive conversation and a committed and process-driven studio practice.The space between politics and aesthetics is generative; I aspire to make formally resolved images while grappling with unresolved issues of biodiversity loss and scale in relationship to environmental ethics.
I’ve chosen to represent the mountains and glacial lakes I’ve visited while hiking in the Rockies on sheets of Mylar at a scale of 12 x 18 inches. I find it quite pleasurable to paint with ink and apply oil paint by palette knife on this smooth surface. Kind of like icing a cake! At the same time, this size of image and these materials allow for some simplification of the lines and textures I see in these large geological structures.
6. Are there any artists (visual or non visual) or ideas that are inspiring you at the moment?
I am really inspired by the painter Terry Winters, who, through both an interest in microbiology and imaginative visual exploration, creates paintings that explore the edge between scientific precision and an inner world governed by impulse and intuition.
I also love the paintings and ideas of Enrique Martinez Celaya, who talks about paintings exposing the unseen, the whisper of life that is just under the surface of our consciousness.
Lately I’ve been enjoying getting back into reading fiction. It’s perfect for this stage in my life as a new mother with discreet pockets of free time. Currently I’m halfway through the four book Nelapolitan series by Elena Ferrante, which has been quite engaging. I’m also about to start reading Celeste Ng’s new novel, Little Fires Everywhere. I really liked her debut novel and am looking forward to reading more of her work.
7. What does working in nature teach you?
Patience. The process of creation mirrors seasonal and geologic processes; it ebbs and flows and needs time to germinate and develop, to go through awkward and beautiful stages. If you keep working through process, and moving between studio production and being outside, things will open up to you over time, and then shift again.
I find parallels between spending periods of time in nature and in the studio. With both, there is a quieting of the mind that happens. I find I am most in touch with myself in these moments and can lead me towards feeling more grounded. I suppose there is something meditative to all of this.
Iceline 6 By Selda Canoglu
8. Are you hopeful about the future?
Not for humans. But yet somehow I still feel very inspired and hopeful when I spend time outside. I think the earth will endure in some form beyond our time on it. I do feel hopeful and inspired by how some people are responding to this challenging time.
Being asked this question so close to Earth day feels to me both a sad and pertinent question. That said, even with all the misdeeds of humanity past, present and future, I believe in the beauty that exists all around us. And this to me feels hopeful.
9. Are you working on anything new/ do you have anything you want to share?
I am really interested in Carbon right now. My next body of work will be made with carbon-based compounds, including coal, graphite and charcoal, collected in the Kootenay region. These drawings will record a sustained effort to capture an elemental and lively quality embedded in these fossil- and plant derived materials.
The intent of the project is to make a temporal connection between two very fecund yet fragile geologic time periods: the carboniferous and the anthropocene. Both coal and graphite are produced from plant and animal matter and are indicators of rich ecosystems that flourished in the carboniferous. Our present forests also indicate a time of ecological diversity and abundance, while the increase in forest fires in this region signifies a shifting climate. How can my approach to scale, form and material open up space for consideration of the links between a prehistoric past and precarious present?
I’m currently in the process of figuring out how my creative practice will work in the new context of being a mother. My instinct is towards small pieces. I’m drawn to the idea of pencil, gouache and ink on paper. For now oil painting feels too big an endeavour, but who knows... I suppose we will see what develops!
Plankton (Filinia) By Genevieve Robertson
10. An interesting fact about you.
I grew up between Vancouver and in and out of forestry camps, where my parents worked as part of a tree planting co-op. I think spending all of this time living outside, and exposed to industrialized landscapes has had a huge influence on how I identify with nature.
I started playing ice hockey in my mid thirties when I lived on Toronto Island. This neighbourhood pond hockey was so fun and inclusive that I now play regular indoor hockey every winter. While I don’t have the skill level of those who started as kids, I make up for it in enthusiasm!
Genevieve Robertson is a drawing-based interdisciplinary artist with a background in environmental studies. Her practice explores the material around the body and under the feet: water, oil, wind, silt, flora, fauna and mineral. Her drawings are often comprised of found organic materials collected on-site, and map a visceral and long-term engagement with specific regions. She holds an MFA from Emily Carr University (2016) and a BFA from NSCAD University (2009), and has participated in numerous residencies internationally. Robertson has exhibited her artwork in venues including the Libby Leshgold Gallery (Vancouver), The Walter Philips Gallery (Banff), The Pensacola Museum (USA), The Nanaimo Art Gallery, The Touchstones Museum (Nelson), Or Gallery (Vancouver), the New Gallery (Calgary) and the James May Gallery (USA).She presently resides in Nelson BC where she serves as Executive Director for Oxygen Centre.
To inquire about purchase, please contact the artist:
Broad Leaf By Genevieve Robertson
Gouache and sea water on paper
18" x 24"
Selda Canoglu’s oil painting practice is reflective of the natural mountain landscapes she has encountered while hiking and exploring the Canadian Rockies. Her current focus combines palette knife oil painting and india ink application on mylar surfaces. This process, bold on smooth, accentuates the contrast of colour and texture found in these alpine environments. Her practice aims to provide artist and viewer alike with an opportunity for stillness and contemplation within the grander timescale suggested by the geology of mountains and glaciers.
Selda’s training involves coursework taken at the Nova Scotia and Ontario Colleges of Art and Design. She has exhibited her artwork in Halifax, Toronto and Nelson B.C. with juried exhibitions at the Rectory and Papermill Galleries in Toronto and the Nelson ArtWalk. Currently residing in Nelson, Selda balances her artistic practice with her work as a physiotherapist and role of new mother.
To inquire about purchase please contact the artist:
Selda Canoglu: firstname.lastname@example.org
Iceline 6 By Selda Canoglu
oil and ink on mylar, 12”x16” (17”x 21” framed)