1 of 4
Corri-lynn Tetz, "Safari #3," 2007, oil on panel, 20.75” diameter.
2 of 4
Corri-lynn Tetz, "Safari #1," 2007, oil on panel, 16.5” diameter.
3 of 4
Corri-lynn Tetz, "Grizzly," 2007, oil on panel, 16” X 24.75” (oval).
4 of 4
Corri-lynn Tetz, "Buffalo," 2007, oil on panel, 16” X 20”.
CORRI-LYNN TETZ, Sampling: appropriated images from the Rococco to the Internet
Bjornson Kajiwara Gallery, Vancouver
June 7 – 30, 2007
By Beverly Cramp
“…all knowledge is in response to a question. If there were no questions, there would be no scientific knowledge. Nothing proceeds from itself. Nothing is given. All is constructed." Gaston Bachelard, French philosopher and poet, 1934 .
At first glance, animal lovers will have a difficult time viewing Corri-Lynn Tetz’s latest paintings at Bjornson Kajiwara Gallery. Six of the seven works are images of hunters posing with their kill: a man squatting, rifle in hand, behind a dead grizzly bear; a man standing in a relaxed pose beside a downed buffalo; and three unsettling pictures of men embracing the limp lifeless body of a leopard.
We can safely assume these are paintings of hunters because, in her artist’s statement, Tetz describes her subjects. Her gallerist, Michael Bjornson likes to create his own narrative about Tetz’s theatrical, set-piece paintings. “As in theatre, the obvious is not always what’s intended,” says Bjornson. “I like to consider other possibilities. What if the men in the paintings were veterinarians or environmentalists or circus trainers? Then we would have a whole other sense of what the images are. Also consider that the animals chosen are vicious animals themselves.”
The subject matter isn’t necessarily Tetz’s primary interest. The artist chose her images from the Internet to, as she writes, “use specific and personal events to question archetypal statements about control, documentation, pride and failure.” Certainly hunters represent a statement about control – the control over another creature’s life. Yet Tetz’s wider body of work is concerned with investigating mementos and cultural signifiers that are used to construct meaning. Through such investigations, Tetz leads to the discovery of what she calls, “the inherent absurdity of everyday life”.
Tetz uses her skill with painting technique to distort any sense of photorealism in her images and induce a sense of the distance between a recalled event and the memento we use to represent the memory. In Safari #3, the picture of a leopard hunter holding his prey in an absurd embrace, posturing for the camera, the picture resembles a black and white photo that has been treated with a blue colour wash. Broadly brandished brush strokes are clearly visible especially in the ground foliage and the sky. Even more striking is how Tetz’s minimal use of line and detail produces animated facial expressions. Viewers can’t help being thrown into the psychological world of the figures.
The use of broad minimal lines that don’t tell the whole story is particularly evident in Grizzly. There is no distinct horizon line, only the suggestion of a border between ground foliage and sky.
The exhibition includes one non-hunter painting.Separate depicts two women and a man at a party. The man wears a party hat and is dressed in a white shirt and tie. Suspenders hold his trousers high up on his waist. Tetz’s theatricality is clearly evident in this evocative piece. The panel looks separated at the front with the two women on one side and the man on the other. The women appear to be dressed up and one has the hint of an earring, indicated by a splash of white paint, almost more a reflection than a piece of jewelry. All three characters have eyes downcast. Are they sorrowful? Tired? Pensive? This painting leaves the interpretation up to the viewer.