Gathie Falk has spent more than five decades creating artworks that aim to “venerate the ordinary”. Her home and the objects in her daily life act as the source material for these new paintings. Falk has reconstructed intimate details from her own existence: a carefully set table with cake, coffee and tea; a portrait of her painting work shirt hung on a simple yellow wooden chair; laundry slowly drying on an outdoor washline; and a perfectly presented box of delicious cinnamon buns. Through these paintings, Falk celebrates simple pleasures, elevating the ordinary objects, and appreciating the joy and love for the things and people in her life.
Also included in our exhibition are two ceramic sculptures, “Checkerboard with Moths“(2017) and “Picnic with Green Bottles” (1976). With the new “Checkerboard with Moths”, Falk has returned to her roots as a sculptor and her first major solo exhibition called “Home Environment” in 1968. In that exhibition, she created a hand-made ceramic living room which included a sculpture “Checker Game with Shoe” (1968). By combining opposites (a game board with an apple and shoe placed on the checkers), Falk enhances our awareness of the everyday. “Checkerboard with Moths” also combines opposites, where Falk plays one variety of moth against another. Insects are recurring images for Falk, first appearing in the early 1970s with her table setting series, in 1998 with her paper-mache “Dress with Insects” and again in 2007 with an exhibit “Dreaming of Flying” where she painted a suite of moths. The sculpture “Checkerboard with Moths” emphasizes opposites: mortality and rebirth, light and shadow, and lamentation and celebration.
The rare 1976 “Picnic with Green Bottles” is from Falk’s 1976-1977 “Picnic” series. Originally from a performance piece where Falk staged picnics in strange places, each Picnic ceramic combines an everyday object on a thick slab of clay sod. Our “Picnic with Green Bottles” includes four green empty bottles on a beautiful white doily set upon the thick green grass. This sculpture was included in Falk’s 1985 retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
For Falk, over time, there is a repetition of imagery and strong connection between her installation, performance, sculpture and painting. The constant is her adoration of her subject, treating simple things as icons and lovingly insisting on celebrating the value of the personal and the small.