Leo Kamen Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection, New York
Wanda Koop is one of Canada’s foremost landscape painters. Her signature canvases are composed of minimal forms and densely layered colours, seemingly simple compositions that reveal the complexities of a world that is part science fiction imaginary and part too-true reality. Deeply aware of the damage humans are imposing on the biosphere, Koop constructs landscapes that feel both timeless and urgent, considering nature, atmosphere, technology and industry in tandem.
Untitled (Blue Satellite City) is one of her renowned “Satellite City” paintings. In this series, she removes the horizon almost entirely and instead uses subtle gradations of colour to define the shift in atmosphere between air and land or sky and sea, as appears to be the case here. This wonderfully delicate quality and soft palette recall an island archipelago suspended in either luminous clouds or a fog-filled, glassy sea. And the familiar topography of roadways emanating from a central urban hub could as easily be interpreted as transportation circuits or airplane contrails.
As in much of Koop’s work, the imagery remains urgent as her compositions are interpreted anew. In our current moment, one can’t help but read the isolated but connected urban spaces as some kind of portent for a future where communication is infrastructural rather than social. Everyone is connected, at a distance. What might subsequent generations see in such icily minimal depictions of space?
We thank Jayne Wilkinson, a Toronto-based writer, editor and independent curator, for contributing this essay. She is currently editor-in-chief at Canadian Art.