Richard Henriquez is one of Vancouver’s most acclaimed architects. He designed the condo tower with the tree on the roof near the Sylvia Hotel in the West End, as well as the BC Cancer Agency building with the groovy round petri dish windows near Vancouver General Hospital. He even revitalized several historic structures by melding them into the Sinclair Centre at Granville and Hastings.
But architecture isn’t his only creative outlet: he’s also an artist. And at 71, he’s having his first show in a commercial gallery.
Narrative Fragments brings together Henriquez’s sculptures, drawings and computer-animated “digital collages.” The opening at the Winsor Gallery last Thursday drew a crowd of about 400 of Henriquez’s friends and admirers, including one who spent $8,000 for the mixed media collage Violin in Richmond.
“I’m an old guy, I’ve got lots of friends,” Henriquez chuckled when asked about the big turnout.
The first thing you notice about Henriquez’s art is the tripods. He’s been collecting them for years, then adding found objects to turn them into sculptures.
“I have maybe 60 of them now.” he notes. “They come in two varieties: they’re either for cameras or they’re for surveying instruments. They’re a very primitive, stable form of structure that was used to lift stone blocks, probably in the Roman times. I just love the look of them, the materiality of them and so on.
“I started collecting them, and started to think about what they really represented. They supported instruments, very technical instruments that measured things or recorded things. So I thought I would replace these technical things with intuitively created objects that came from the other side of the brain.”
Hence you get tripods affixed with toy bulls, surveyor’s boxes, old animal skulls, fans, driftwood, and paper mâche creatures. The funkiest one might be Toy Trumpet, which actually features a toy saxophone.
“It’s a little [instrument] that comes with a scroll,” he explains. “I took the scroll off. I guess you wound it up and it made a sound, like a toy player piano. I found it on Main Street in a junk shop.”
Violin in Richmond is a collage with a toy violin at the centre, reminiscent of something by the great Spanish artist Juan Gris.
“It’s got a little toy violin, it’s got a soup bone, and it’s got part of an architectural model,” Henriquez relates.
“I saved it because I liked the look of it, and started applying things, putting [bits of] newspaper on it. Each piece in a collage has its own story, you see. These fragments represent history.
“Think about this violin, where it comes from. Wood was grown somewhere in Southeast Asia, someone cut it down. Someone sold it from a wholesaler to someone who made toy violins, some guy carved the thing, and it found its way to Vancouver into a junk shop.”
Check out some of our photos from the opening reception of Richard Henriquez: Narrative Fragments by clicking Gallery.
The exhibition runs until June 30, 2012 at the Winsor Gallery (3025 Granville Street).
Download the exhibition catalogue here to see images of Richard’s work and read “Richard Henriquez: Mechanomorphic Dreams” by architectural historian Howard Shubert.