|THE OPENING is all about delving into the fascinating, quirky and wonderful visual arts in Vancouver. Each week we’ll feature an artist, cover an exhibition, discuss a lecture and everything else in-between to delve deep into who and what makes art happen!|
I met Babak Golkar on the first truly frigid day of November, down in the warehouse district near the train tracks. Though it was relatively early, the sky had already darkened to a deep pitch — Golkar had to hail me from his building’s doorway before I was able to find my way over. His studio is well-lit and spare, populated with hanging tools and hand-built plywood chairs that, even in their bareness, have an ergonomic curve to them. Throughout our conversation, a psychedelic playlist issues from an iPad that he reaches for now and then to scroll through images of work that I was yet to encounter. He speaks eloquently and seriously, every so often cracking a wry smile should he be discussing something especially incendiary.
The occasion of our meeting is the advent of Presentation House Gallery’s annual gala and auction, which will be held at hyper-hip Secret Location in Gastown this evening. To mark the event, Presentation House procured twenty-three of Enzo Mari’s iconic Sedia 1 chairs — an elegantly modest precursor to the prefabricated, assemble-it-yourself furniture that populates condominiums across the world today — and asked artists and designers to build and modify the kit as they pleased with one stipulation: that they use every single piece in the package. The results are as thrilling and varied as one would expect: Beau Dick hides a cheeky raven in the chair’s bottom slats, while Douglas Coupland tessellates the pieces into a television test pattern. Golkar’s contribution, DO THE DOWNWARD DOG!, is a playful sculpture and seating object that is designed to do the yoga pose in mind.
In this way, Golkar’s work is always both lively and profound. Its success hinges on its ability to become an experiential catalyst, encouraging interactions on bodily, retinal, and cerebral levels. In a time when most art is mediated through a screen or observed from a noncommittal distance, it’s essential to feel risky and engaged in the way that Golkar’s sculptures and installations move us to be.