RICHARD RAXLEN: introspective?!*√º"ç¥å?!
Open Space, in cooperation with MediaNet, presented Richard Raxlen:introspective?!*√º"ç¥å?!, an interdisciplinary exhibition sampling the work of the acclaimed Victoria artist Richard Raxlen.
Raxlen is resolutely experimental as a filmmaker, animator, and visual artist. He is also a mischievous pop culture historian, a vocation that leavens all aspects of his work. Watch for images of Mutt & Jeff, historical footage, and well-known literary figures in his work. At the heart of introspective?!*√º"ç¥å?!, visitors discovered a Rick Raxlen cinematheque offering on-demand screenings.
Raxlen believes that film should be more like jazz and create a feeling, sensation, or mood rather than always tell a story. Raxlen’s creative process is borderless: he quite simply takes any and all liberties with sound, film, drawing, and image to create his work. His work has an ineffable power — as if conjured by the lightest touch of life’s pleasures, flavours, moments, anxieties, scents, and hunches.
This exhibition celebrated Raxlen’s art, the rambunctious scope of which had not been adequately explored. His sensibility has been variously described as one of mysterious, poetic, and uncompromising dimensions. His work is idiosyncratic, aesthetically rich, and unabashedly handcrafted. Raxlen began his filmmaking career at the NFB (National Film Board, 1967–76), where he produced several shorts, notably Legend (1970), which won an Etrog (Genie) Award in 1970. While Raxlen was teaching at Concordia University in Montreal and involved with Main Film (an artist-run centre for independent filmmakers), he produced the award-winning Horses in Winter, which was named one of the best films of the 1980s by Cinémathèque Québécoise.
Raxlen has since produced scores of short experimental films. One of these,Deadpan (2001), was nominated for a Jutra Award and was hailed as the Funniest Film at the Ann Arbour Film Festival in 2004. Raxlen’s films dance with exuberance, particularly his recent experimental animation pieces like Rude Rollor Geometry of Beware.
Richard Raxlen has been a committed force in the community of artist-run culture, serving on boards and advisories and donating his work. He is affectionately recognized as a mentor and inspiration to many younger artists.
Richard Raxlen: introspective?!*√º"ç¥å?! covered the broad terrain of Raxlen’s fertile imagination. In conjunction with the exhibition, Open Space published a book with essays by Peter Sandmark and Marilyn Brakhage.
introspective?!*√º"ç¥å?! was co-sponsored by Open Space and MediaNet with support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the BC Arts Council, and the CRD and the support of members, donors, and volunteers. The project also acknowledged the artists and colleagues who have inspired Raxlen’s practice. We are indebted to Rick Raxlen for putting up with our endless meetings and requests as we planned this project and to Susy Raxlen, who has shaped the selection of Raxlen’s drawings, cels, and objects.