Artsy Shark presents the work of Canadian artist Sarah Gee – surprising, electric, retro and exciting. See more of her work by visiting her website.
Sarah Gee is an artist living and working in Vancouver BC. Primarily working with collaged paper, her geometric compositions are kaleidoscopic, harmonious and pensive. Concerned with regularity and equilibrium, her work strives toward a kind of transcendental austerity augmented by dazzling color. Continually experimenting, she has recently completed a series of scorched-paper images as well as large-scale discs abstracting a city block into a series of sequential color bands.
In the last few years she has had several group shows and two solo shows.
What are your goals?
Massive government cuts to culture organizations and a general indifference to art makes my city of Vancouver a pretty challenging place to work and live in. We’re a young city without a long history of institutional support for the arts, and that’s both good and bad. It’s good because it forces us to get out there and create our own support, and cement our own history. In many ways this is a DIY city, with young artists carving out galleries in unused downtown buildings and pop-up shows appearing in our poorest neighborhoods. Even I, with no experience, curated a successful group show of geometrically-inspired art, and in the process met lifelong friends and colleagues.
I think the world is changing for artists. Grants and galleries are disappearing, many artists are reevaluating the role of dealers and collectors and it’s essential we make our own path. The great challenge is reminding people how crucial the arts are to their everyday life. I live in a wonderful city, but many people would rather pay for a lift ticket to go skiing than a piece of art they’ll cherish forever.
So really, I have two goals, a lofty and probably impossible one, and a personal one. I would like to help create a vibrant and positive environment for young and emerging artists in my city, and I would like, on a more personal level, to have my work out in the world, where it belongs, to be seen and commented upon, hated or loved.
What are you working on now?
I’m starting to work toward a November show that reflects on Vancouver in its raw, modernist glory, so I’m beginning to plan a big ambitious series of geometric collages. All I’ve ever wanted to use in my work is paper. Nothing handmade or textured, just flat archival-quality cardstock. I also use a lot of architectural vellum to achieve a layered transparency. Of course paper can also be dangerously exacting, but it lets me to work quickly and intuitively, and I can use an exacto blade like nobody’s business. Paper is also perfect medium for what I’m trying to do, which is geometric abstraction with a nod to psychedelia, using bright, saturated color.
Part of my love for paper comes from the fact that I am entirely self-taught. It is an “everyman” kind of medium, and when I first began working seriously, only a few years ago, it allowed me to express the kind of complex geometrical imagery I wanted without the painstaking technical know-how I would need mixing paints or preparing canvas.
What inspires you?
Other than the memory of my older brother’s trippy black-light posters he used to have in his bedroom, I’m inspired by getting out and seeing the work of other artists. It brings out my joyfully competitive side. Every time I go to galleries and museums I want to rush back into the studio. Particularly, I love the hard-edge painters of the 60s and 70s. Those guys were courageous, experimental and tough-minded, some are still out there doing it. Frank Stella, Josef Albers, Tadasky, Miguel Angel Vidal, the cool Californians Frank Hammersley and Billy Bengston, the enigmatic John Stephan. These are names off the top of my head, but there are more. I love them all.