FAÇADE Fest: Studio Sessions with Renée Van Halm

Renée’s work is impressively varied, using painting, sculpture, and architecture as vehicles to create art that blends mediums to discuss artistic and cultural history. During her sessions with Go2, our team made sure the paintings and collages Renee picked had the right colors/saturation, orientation, and placement to work flawlessly with the Vancouver Art Gallery building. We also developed a simple transition between her artworks to create a bit of movement on the building.

We spoke with Renée about her inspiration and her work for the Façade Fest.

What would you like our readers to know about your existing body of work that might help them contextualize your upcoming project for Façade?
Renée: My work has always had a synthetic quality. By that, I mean synthesizing elements from different orders of things – architecture as sculpture or backgrounds with fields of colour. In this way, each aspect of the combination places its partner into question or informs it to come up with a different meaning. The viewer flips back and forth between one way of knowing and another. The Façade project is drawn from research into symmetry, different from my paintings but related in how the source materials have been processed – through collaging. The Façade project allows me to work with combinations of very intense colour not feasible when working with pigments.

What inspires you?
Renée: Pictures and what they mean.

How does working in projection mapping fit into, and contrast with, the work you’ve done before?
Renée: It is lucky that for the last year I have been working on a public art piece that has evolved into a large painted window. This has lead me to work with light and transparency, which has more in common with projected light than paintings on canvas do. Also, the scale and the artwork’s relationship to actual architecture is similar. As a result, the switch to projected light was quite seamless. Even the images I have used for Façade evolved from the research I have been doing over the past year.

What has the process been like? What have you learnt about your art through this process?
Renée: The timeline for production was short and the learning curve was steep. As an artist, I work with static images and don’t usually consider sequencing or transitions in my work so considering how one image moves into another was something that I had to learn.

Describe your project for Façade. How did you come up with the idea, and what kind of effect are you hoping to have on the viewer?
Renée: My project for Façade consists of a number of diverse images taken from magazines. They are mostly unrecognizable backgrounds and architectural elements but also images of nature that in new combinations take on different identities. The big coloured shapes often refer to redefined figures or subjects without actual identities.
I don’t usually work with symmetrical compositions, but I have wanted to work with these butterfly compositions for some time and given the symmetry of the VAG it seemed like a perfect fit. Symmetry inevitably reads in an anthropomorphic or zoomorphic way and, is therefore, comfortable for audiences to relate to.

What was it like working with Go2 to complete your vision?
Renée: Go2 productions have been not only very helpful but also inspiring. They made the process as straightforward as possible. With the exception of a couple of face-to-face meetings, a lot of the interaction took place electronically with helpful feedback and suggestions.

What do you think about the coupling of art and technology?
Renée: This has been a great opportunity to marry the two. The best part of this project is that it brings art out of the studio and the gallery and allows a large audience engage with it.

How did you come to collaborate with the Burrard Arts Foundation?
Renée: I was invited to participate. Thanks for asking!

Renée’s project will be displayed Friday, September 2nd from 8pm to 12am on the Robson Street side of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Follow the fest online with #facadefest.

Text by Go2 Productions,  Genevieve Michaels and Renée Van Halm

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