Meeting Wanda Koop at Frieze London
I visited Canadian artist Wanda Koop’s exhibition ‘In Absentia’ at Division Gallery in Toronto before moving to London to study art. I was struck by her ability to join both visual and emotional stimuli into a singular body of work. She collected ideas for these large scale paintings while visiting Manhattan, New York shortly after her mother had passed away. She was staying in a hotel with floor to ceiling windows allowing her a view of where the sky met the urban landscape. In an interview with Wallpaper Magazine, she describes this moment to writer Michael Slenske as “I was quite disembodied, like being on an airplane – you’re not dead, but you’re not really anywhere. It was appropriate I was in a hotel because I wasn’t really there either. I was just passing through.”
Her paintings capture this physical experience along with the feelings of transition she may have been feeling when reflecting on the loss of a parent. The absence referred to in the title of the show could just as easily referred to her physical absence from her home country as much as missing a family member. This melding of ideas has inspired me to consider not just my subject matter, but also investigate its impact on my psyche when creating work.
I was honoured to be able to meet Ms. Koop at Frieze Art Fair in London in October 2018. I was a little intimidated by meeting this recipient of the Order of Canada, but able to exchange enough information to allow her to wish me well in my studies, snap a quick selfie, and bond as fellow Canadians in this remote land.