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Joan Balzar

18 October to 16 November 2003

Opening Reception: Friday 17 October 2003 8 to 10 p.m.

Belkin Satellite, 555 Hamilton Street, Vancouver

The Belkin Satellite is pleased to present an exhibition of the work of Joan Balzar. Balzar was widely recognized as a key figure in the development of abstract painting on the West Coast in the 1960s, a time when Vancouver emerged as a city of increased energy and experimentation in visual art.

Balzar’s works may be situated within then current debates over the dominance of modernist painting, particularly the challenges posed to this by the Minimalist environments of Donald Judd and Dan Flavin. Like the Minimalists, who introduced arrangements of manufactured industrial goods into the gallery, Balzar was interested in the new aesthetic of industrial materials such as neon tubing and plastics. But unlike the Minimalists, she never abandoned painting, rather seeing neon light as a model for new optical possibilities and an expanded notion of the medium. Exit, the title of the earliest neon canvas in the exhibition from 1967, implies an attempt to move beyond the conventional frame and alter the viewer’s sense of space. Through an extension of the visual sensorium and the innovative use of industrial materials, Balzar’s manipulation of paint and electric media formed a strong connection to the ideas of Marshall McLuhan and the psychedelic movement.

Throughout her career, which spans five decades, Joan Balzar’s work has undergone several permutations. But, her commitment to abstraction, spatial illusion, and the psychological manipulation of colour and light is constant. The upcoming exhibition will include four early works from the late 1960s, assembled from the collections of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, as well as a selection of recent abstract paintings.

For further information please contact: Jana Tyner at jana.tyner@ubc.ca,
tel: (604) 822-1389, or fax: (604) 822-6689