Since receiving a Diploma of Fine Art from the School of Art, University of Manitoba (1969––1973), Wanda Koop (Canadian, born 1951) has produced a large and impressive body of work. Koop has been the subject of a number of solo exhibitions both in Canada and abroad, including Airplanes and the Wall, co-organized by the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Hamilton (1985–1987), which toured nationally; Northern Suite, Canada House, London, UK (1987); Flying to the Moon, 49th Parallel, New York (1988); Paintings for Dimly Lit Rooms, Centre international d’art contemporain, Montreal (1994); Paintings for Dimly Lit/Brightly Lit Rooms, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Hamilton, and Canadian Embassy Prince Takamado Gallery, Tokyo (1996–1999); See Everything/See Nothing, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, and The New Gallery, Calgary (1998); In Your Eyes, at the Venice Biennale (2001); the MacKenzie’s exhibition Sightlines (2002); and the career survey On the Edge of Experience, Winnipeg Art Gallery and National Gallery of Canada (2010–2011).
Koop is an artist who has consistently worked in a wide range of scales, from the note-sized to the colossal. The four paintings, three in the exhibition As It Unfolds and one above the MacKenzie’s entry staircase, are from Koop’s series Sightlines (2001), which represents the culmination of a decade of painting and thinking. The artworks are among her largest paintings. They allow an appreciation of her unique ability to translate the gestural quality of an intimate brushstroke on a monumental scale. The genesis of this series dates to 1991, when Koop visited the Bois de Vincennes—the largest public park in Paris, France. While in the gardens, Koop captured through a window the video image of a landscape obscured by a red dot of the type affixed to glass to ward off birds. This red dot appeared prominently in her 1995 Green Room paintings, where it was superimposed upon grey, park-like landscapes. From the initial images of the Green Room, to the series In Your Eyes (1997–2001), to the provocative canvases that compose Sightlines, Koop’s stated intention has been to “disrupt the comfort, the familiarity [of landscape] … by imposing cross hairs, brackets, circles, dots and lines — sightlines — over the representations of places, thus evoking long-range rifles, video cameras, surveillance devices.”1 Through these works, Koop addresses the intersection of our cultural constructions of landscape (painting) with the technologies of surveillance (video).
Timothy Long, Head Curator
1 Wanda Koop, cited in Timothy Long, “Placing Desire” in Sightlines (Regina: MacKenzie Art Gallery, 2002), n.p.