Gathie Falk: Variations, published on the occasion of the retrospective exhibition curated by Sarah Milroy, will investigate the career of a legendary Canadian artist. Now in her nineties, Gathie Falk was born in 1928 in Brandon, Manitoba, settling finally in Vancouver, where she established herself as one of Canada’s most visionary and experimental artists. Flying horses, rows of potted conifers festooned with blossoms and ribbons, floating cabbages, piles of glossy apples, gentlemen’s brogues presented in reliquary style, expanses of water, or burgeoning flower beds exploding with colour—these have been the manifestations of Falk’s rampant imagination as she has explored the disciplines of painting, ceramic, performance art and installation over the span of a half century. In all her works, effulgence and order are held in a dynamic tension as she works through her generative themes and variations.
A trailblazer on all fronts, she has brought a rich sensibility to bear on her observations of the everyday, perceptions often tinged with the surreal and the uncanny. From her fruit piles to the landmark performances of her early career, to her extended pursuit of themes with variations in her painting practice —expanses of water dazzling with light, riotous flower borders set against cement sidewalks, night skies pierced by starlight or obscured by clouds—she finds the wondrous in the routine world around her, pursuing her work with a modesty and diligence that reflects her Russian Mennonite heritage.
The publication will include an introduction by McMichael Chief Curator Sarah Milroy, lead essay by Vancouver curator and writer Daina Augaitis (who will examine her performance and installation works in a national and international context), and a host of other artists and writers, rising to the occasion of this career-spanning survey. This catalogue will summarize an extraordinary career, with full page images of her artworks and rarely seen archival photos of the artist’s studio, performance works, and Falk herself.
For more than sixty years, Falk has generated work of extraordinary thematic integrity and material invention. This publication will illuminate those connections across disciplines, while also tracing the artist’s journey from youth to old age—from the lushness of the fruit piles, with their sensuous surfaces and dazzling colours, to the sepulchral hush of the night skies. Hers has been an extraordinary voyage, and we look forward to saluting her in her 94th year.