Charles Rea has been an important player in the Vancouver painting scene for more than twenty years. In that time he has painted on canvas, books, mirrors, and for this exhibition, Plexiglas panels. Forty-eight of these panels, mounted on modular metal framing devices, make up the ambitious three-dimensional labyrinthine installation titled Crystal Lab. Walking through this elaborate and complex piece which fills up most of the gallery space, is a disorienting experience, and the viewer is faced with a myriad of modern information systems such as equations, graphs, and charts that are applied to each panel. These cryptic codings are used to organize information about the chemistry of the body, economic and social models, human intelligence, and philosophical and speculative data. While this work appears primarily sculptural, Rea’s interest in painting persists in the precise rendering by hand of these ‘specialized’ information systems onto the sheets of Plexiglas, that, in their content are decipherable only to those with such specialized knowledge, and therefore, are communicated only as abstract patterns in the minds of most viewers.
Crystal Lab is accompanied by five works from his series Mirror Maze. Labyrinthine patterns are painted onto large convex security mirrors to create another sort unsettling visual experience that plays between the logic of the patterns and the distorted reflection of the viewer in the mirror.
This exhibition is financially supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the B.C. Arts Council.
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