Art outside the gallery

Local artist challenges viewers with this unique exhibition

Visual artist Ben Darrah’s work has been displayed at venues across North America and Europe. However, for his most recent project the Kingston native decided to stick to his hometown streets.

Darrah’s series Accidental Landscape is currently displayed outdoors across Kingston as part of the Kingston Temporary Public Art Project, which aims to give exposure to local artists by having them display non-permanent artwork in a public space.

Darrah’s participation in the project shows his ability to simultaneously challenge and convey new ideas as an artist.

Accidental Landscape consists of 10 landscapes painted with acrylic on wood panels. Combining both impressionistic and modernistic qualities, Darrah’s technique emphasizes the natural scenery of each landscape. The 10 parts of the series range in setting, beginning with an autumnal landscape accented with orange trees and venturing off into summerlike landscape dominated by rolling hills and valleys. A vivid landscape of Alberta’s Three Sisters Mountain in autumn is also featured as part of the series.

After completing each piece, Darrah installed them at various public outdoor locations across the city — including the Cataraqui Centre, on Princess St. and at the corner of University and Union.

The landscapes were mounted onto trees and posts at each location, where passersby could easily engage with each work.

Since most of his previous work was restricted in setting to galleries, Darrah’s newest project shows a break from his traditional realm of artistic tendencies.

The landscapes encourage us to consider how the way we traditionally engage with art may limit our perspectives of it. The project, first erected in January, has taken its fair share of beatings from local weather conditions. The pieces have since become tarnished and slightly damaged, and one of his landscapes, entitled Fall, was stolen from its spot.

It can be assumed that if a painting were in a gallery, it would’ve never been touched.

This series provided an interesting gateway between the way we are normally taught to view art in a gallery and less mainstream ways art can be viewed, such as outdoors. Darrah’s project allows the viewer to interact with each piece in a more authentic manner, given the location of his work.

The public setting of Darrah’s project may entirely change the way we feel we are able to interact with art in general. If there is no separation between the viewer and the art, why not steal it?

For art to be powerful it must always have not just aesthetic appeal but also a strong intention. In many ways Ben Darrah’s Accidental Landscape series was not only an art project but also a masterfully conducted social experiment.



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