|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!|
Tight-lipped and enigmatic, Robert Buck is a rare species in this age of celebrity. Even centre stage, delivering an artist talk at Emily Carr, he remains reserved about the wellspring of personal experience that drives his art practice, focusing instead on the details of each piece’s construction. However, secrecy this far into the game — Beck/Buck has been exhibiting since 1989 — can’t just be out of shyness. As his work shifts and eliminates identity, his audience’s ability to layer in their own experiences becomes a crucial aspect of this diverse but macabre body of work.
Like embarking on a particularly grim treasure hunt, there is a thrill in decoding Buck’s consistently self-referential output. The Rennie Collection’s current docent, Cemre Demiralp, is a deft clue-giver. “What’s in a name?” she asks at the beginning of one of the many tours that the Collection offers to the public. This isn’t any old icebreaker: Robert Buck gained art-world notoriety with a mid-life name change by way of a single vowel. Having risen to prominence under his given name, Robert Beck, Buck assumed his new identity in 2007 in order to do what many of us will do after a time of great trial: bury the past and begin again.