David Wilson Close to Home

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

Vancouver artist David Wilson presents his newest collection, Close to Home — his first since 2019’s Everywhere From Here — October 1 to 21, 2020 at the Kurbatoff Gallery.

David Wilson Close to Home

Dreams of Distant Memories David Wilson Art
Dreams of Distant Memories by David Wilson

Where: Kurbatoff Gallery (2435 Granville St, Vancouver)
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 11:00am to 5:00pm; Sunday 12:00pm to 4:00pm

Close to Home offers a peek at those final, pre-COVID days in early 2020. In the poignantly titled “Come Back to Me”, Wilson’s vibrant acrylics capture the Stanley’s grand marquee as it presides over a rain-slicked South Granville Street, still busy with traffic and—typical to the artist’s often-waterlogged work—hunkered pedestrians clutching their umbrellas.

“It’s a world that, despite its many monstrosities, seems a little bit whimsical now,” says Wilson. “It’s a place that, in spite of all of its shortcomings, doesn’t seem so bad.”

“It’s less about being a literal visual documentation and more of a synthesizing of what I am feeling about the time while I was there. It’s a very strange alchemy of representation, memory, sound, smell, and feel as I work through those moments that eventually coalesce into something tangible and visibly recognizable.”

For perhaps the first time in modern history, our experience under COVID-19 is truly universal. With two immuno-compromised family members in his own home, Wilson had especially concrete concerns in those early months of the pandemic. He was used to “uncertainty,” but nothing on this scale.

“As the news raged about COVID’s ability to spread with impunity and overwhelm populations in great numbers, the thought of making art seemed so trivial, perhaps even a little bit self-indulgent. It was the first time in many years that I did not feel inspired to create. My thoughts were consumed by the crisis at hand and its implications for me, my family, my community, and the world at large. So, I stopped for a while and watched and listened. COVID created a concentrated time for introspection. Not just for me but for all of humanity.” 

Mercifully, inspiration returned. As such, desire and reverie mingle in Close to Home. With an unknowable future, Wilson turned to the past, emerging from a familiar cycle of grief and despair to find solace in a trove of old photographs. “Feels Like Only Yesterday” takes us back to a thriving Granville strip at night. “A Path Through the Sea” pits the Burrard Street bridge against a twinkling Fairview at dusk, suggesting a city pregnant with energy. That same landmark is given a chilly, vivid rendering in “The Wind in Our Faces.” In all cases, Close to Home feels like an attempt to time-stamp the tone of pre-COVID life in Vancouver.   

Feels Like Only Yesterday by David Wilson
Feels Like Only Yesterday by David Wilson

In a roundabout way, David’s work reminds me of my time away from Vancouver. When I moved away to Massachusetts for work in 2002, I enjoyed my new city but I also craved anything that reminded me of home — hence the creation of my “Miss604” moniker. When I look at David’s work, I see my home. These are the pieces I would have wanted on the wall of my room in Cambridge. They make me homesick even while I stare out my office window on a grey and rainy West Coast morning.

Related: David Wilson Presents Everywhere From Here, David Wilson at Kimoto Gallery

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