Alex Wyse

About the Artist

Alexander John Wyse was born in the United Kingdom in 1938. He recalls being consumed by  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  and  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  as a child. After moving to Canada, he met his wife and collaborator Anne, a teacher from Saskatchewan. Perhaps owing to Alex’s British origin or perhaps to other factors, the couple has settled in the nation’s capital of Ottawa, Ontario.

As the home of the country’s government, Ottawa is a city filled with people involved in politics; if not directly, then by association. The city’s overwhelming tone of governance and social consequence has found its way into the work of Alex Wyse as he interrogates, subverts, and celebrates the political  contextThe varied circumstances in which a work of art is (or was) produced and interpreted. There are three arenas to these circumstances, each of them highly complex. The first pertains to the artist: attitudes, beliefs, interests, values, intentions and purposes, education and training, and biography (including psychology). The second is the setting in which the work was produced: the apparent function of the work (to adorn, beautify, express, illustrate, mediate, persuade, record, redefine reality, or redefine art), religious and philosophical convictions, sociopolitical and economic structures, and even climate and geography. Third is the field of the work's reception and interpretation: the traditions it is intended to serve, the mind-set it adheres to (ritualistic, perceptual, rational, and emotive), and, perhaps most importantly, the colour of the lenses through which the work is being scrutinized — i.e., the interpretive mode (artistic biography, psychological approaches, political criticism, feminism, cultural history, intellectual history, formalism, structuralism, semiotics, hermeneutics, post-structuralism and deconstruction, reception theory, concepts of periodicity [stylistic pendulum swinging], and other chronological and contextual considerations. Context is much more than the matter of the artist's circumstances alone. (Artlex.com)  of his own art practice.

Wyse often comments on such politically charged themes as the environment, governmental responsibility, and regionalism itself. His 1970 work Super Shows Proudly Presents Ease Into the Countryside plays with the perceived divisions between country- and city-life, while adopting the rhetoric of commercialism by promoting itself as a way to “ease into the countryside for the city type - deluxe model” and containing drawers of garbage and urban noisemakers.

The work of Alex Wyse often adopts a rustic style, not unlike that of his contemporaries Joe Fafard and Vic Cicansky, even if Wyse uses different materials. But through the  appropriationThe claiming or taking of something for one’s own purpose and use, usually without the owner’s permission. Note that in an art context, one can perform artistic appropriation (taking another’s imagery and using it in one’s own work), intellectual appropriation (taking another’s ideas and using them in one’s own work), and cultural appropriation (taking another culture’s ideas, images, or language and using them in one’s own work). While appropriation is sometimes seen as theft, in some artistic cases it can also be a way of honouring the owner of the thing that is being taken; for example, a junior artist’s use of colours similar to a senior artist can be a way of demonstrating that that older artist is an important influence.  of other traditions of communication, Wyse has managed in his practice to create lighthearted works that deal with serious issues; Parliamentary Desk Thumper, Wyse’s work presented on the ARTSask website, is no exception.


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning