Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ottawa City Centre c.1997, collection, Canada Council Art Bank, 2003

The City Center is a mixed office industrial complex in west end Ottawa. It was described in the Ottawa Citizen as the ugliest building in the city. As a structure it is pretty brutal with loading docks and a railway spur line, but in c.1997 I used it as the local for a large work in my Government Building series. My intention was to make a broadly metaphorical picture on the conflict between capital and social consciousness as mediated by governance and architecture. 

The building is clear in parts showing three Ottawa landscapes behind it, a starry sky over the river, Place du Portage from the Parkway and Parliament Hill. Beginning with the super fast elevator the composition rises through orders of rational scientific, religious moralistic and idealized images of capital to a final conflagration of conflicted interests on the top floor, all set against a calm nighttime sky.      

This is a transitional work and is more connected to my late 80’s Nova Scotia Landscapes, like Ice on the Northwest Arm and Saint Anne’s Bay from Englishtown, than to the later Government Building works like The Pearson Building (all that is high will come down low) or The Kingston Penitentiary. The work is a favourite of mine, because its so loaded. I’ve not attempted such a broadly metaphorical work since. The work is in the collection of the Canada Council Art Bank.