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Angus Ferguson draws upon bygone times in new exhibition ‘Where Have All the Good Times Gone’

Wednesday 15th, June 2016 / 18:25
By Meredyth Cole
Photo: Dennis Ha

Photo: Dennis Ha

VANCOUVER — Summertime is the season of nostalgia and the perfect climate in which to view Angus Ferguson’s sentimental new show of paintings (and one sculpture) at the Burrard Arts Foundation. Where Have All the Good Times Gone is a playful, throwback collection of illustrative works that Ferguson dreamt up as a kind of palate cleanser while working on larger, more weighty oil pieces. The works on display reference everything from Warner Bros. cartoons to Playboy comics. The mood is bittersweet, like a melted ice-cream cone or an empty swimming pool.

A father of two, Ferguson is awed by the way children give free rein to their creativity — unconcerned with plausibility and unfettered by a need for approval. The pieces that make up Where Have All the Good Times Gone attempt to reclaim this free spirited approach, something Ferguson admits is almost impossible as an adult, granting that he more “projected that” feeling than embodied it and maintained a careful eye to the final results of his work. In spite of these doubts, the gestural lines and fluid approach Ferguson takes to drawing figures lends a quality of doodling to the show and recalls exactly the type of childish art making that inspires him.

Often, Ferguson’s pieces are arranged “salon style,” a method of hanging art that rejects the straight lines of most gallery shows and clusters artwork in groups. The result is gallery walls that resemble the home of a collector and encourage more organic, engaged viewing of the art on display.

Ferguson describes the process of preparing the show as “having fun in the studio and just making things that are silly, like back stage at The Muppet Show.” But like many memories of the past, these pieces are tinged with sadness. “There is some kind of connection to a darker aspect of things,” he says. The illustrations that most inspire him are rooted in the gloomy, wartime mood of the early 20th century.

The BAF is the ideal venue for such an irreverent show, which tries, in everything from it’s playful title to it’s cheeky content, to reject the pressures and pretentions of an affected art showing. Ferguson notes that the influence of popular culture in his paintings is strong and the BAF, with its directive to “reach the broadest cross-section of our communities,” feels like a perfect match of venue and artist.

Where Have All The Good Times Gone is on display at the Burrard Arts Foundation until July 2.

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