Gallery Gachet presents
Hugh Lunn, Helen Keyes, Laurie Marshall & Kate Paulsen
April 12th – June 2nd, 2013
Opening reception: Fri April 12th, 7 – 10pm
Artist Roundtable Discussion: Thurs May 9th, 7 – 9pm

All decisions in the artistic execution of the work rest with pure intuition and cannot be translated into a self-analysis.

Marcel Duchamp

Each of these artists primarily creates through their intuitive voice.  Their sense of intuition is greater than their artistic tendencies towards rationalism. All artists use their intuition to greater or lesser degrees, but the point at which the intuitive process directs artistic outcomes and works without acute influence from mainstream, institutionalized discourse is the space of exploration this exhibition seeks to engage with. At what point can an artist be considered an intuitive or visionary artist, as per Raw Vision Magazine’s definition of an outsider artist? Where does the continuum shift in this creative process, and who is the arbiter of this analysis? Who determines when a person’s output is being guided more fully by their intuitive forces than by tamed systems of thinking?

There is a link between the act of creation that happens outside of deliberate conceptualization but still under the influence of institutional and mainstream influences, and the world of the visionary/outsider who creates purely from intuition/imagination and their own social reference points that sit outside normative cues. Essentially, we are seeking to question the boundaries that exist between what is considered outsider/visionary and what is accepted as being part of the broader artistic mainstream.

Lunn and Marshall sit further along that continuum towards intuitive process than Keyes and Paulsen. What is interesting is the way each artist responds to the battle between the rational self and the intuitive self, sometimes taking the form of random spontaneous expression, other times manifesting in the application of built surfaces encouraging new pathways into creative experience. All of them create from radically diverse positions of privilege and experience within Western Canadian culture. What links them is their ability to access the creative force within them and externalise visionary concepts and participate in the process of making their art real without a profound level of planning and preconceived articulation. Their art is a means of self-expression and a way to spew out a churning need inside them to create.

Since Jules Verne, visionary artists have been interested in the concepts of space, time and the future. Exploring new realms that no-one has been to before –  under the sea, in outer space, spiritual realms –  is the territory of these artists. This explorative instinct drives the parallel experience of art making, but what differentiates visionary art is its lack of connection to dominant art forms. Visionary art begins by listening to the inner voice and the inner perceptions of the “soul”, and may not be considered art by its creator. In fact, when Hugh Lunn completed these works making art was not part of his mindset. The fluid aesthetics of his drawings and the poetic phrases embedded in them are meant to be functional and relational. He is influenced by drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci but his work is without a conscious emulation of a great master. Biblical, political, spiritual, pop cultural and personal references are intermingled in his stream of consciousness spawned during a period of his life where he fell into mental illness after being discharged from the army’s aeronautical engineering division. His work aligns itself perfectly with the concept of the “lisière” by Louis Martin: work that is situated in the space of a gap, uncertain of its limits. It has on one side a well-defined edge but on the other an edge fraying as it become chaos.

Laurie Marshall is an artist marginalized by his lived experience of mental illness. He sits down and draws and paints what comes into his mind: people, animals, streets, rural landscapes, quirky characters. Laurie has no formal art training and does not participate in the largely theoretically driven contemporary art world. The process and experience of his art making is entirely the opposite of someone learning to be an artist in today’s educational system. He describes perfectly and categorically his own making art practice: There’s a part of me that enjoys nonsense. When I paint or draw this part comes out to play. Here I am at my painting table. Music and paints to my left, a calico cat to my right. My hands remove the lids. Here we go. Reds become green, browns to blue. Squares become dogs or buffalo or anything. A circle might become Grannies head. Anything is allowed to happen especially if it looks right.  My hands seem to enjoy applying paint. My eyes too. There is no end in sight. This painting might be finished today or go on and on. My hands paint fast so no time to think. Suddenly it seems like time to stop. Lids on, music off. I’ve been on a little trip. Seen mountains and rivers and boats full of strange people. Seen big red trees and giant cacti. Islands. Fields of cows and other beasts. Goats and owls, pink houses….part of me is content for a while.

Helen Keyes’ work is immediate, psychological and physical. Her naïve, folk-esque style reminiscent of journal-writing practice and vibrant use of jarring colours form what on the surface look like typical outsider/folk art aesthetic conventions, however Keyes is a trained artist, having almost completed a BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design and the University of Calgary. She has also faced lesser socio-economic barriers and arguably less obstacles to developing her practice than Lunn or Marshall. But even though she has gone through the institutional art making system, she still claims that her art making process is predominantly drawn from her intuitive and instinctive self. How possible is it for her to separate herself from her training and tap into her intuitive self to access that space that lies beyond convention, the place outside of influence, the magical realm of pure, unadulterated idea? She chooses not to explain or discuss the content of her work as she strongly believes her paintings are a visual language unto themselves. Central themes that permeate this body of work are love, betrayal, sadness, fear, endings and beginnings. On some level, her ideas, experiences and beliefs must seep into and intersect her creative process; by how much they are driven by these formational parameters and how much her heart is singing its own song is perhaps best interoperated by her audience. She states: I create from within myself using whatever materials and experiences of the moment. Therefore the work is both immediate and thoughtful.

Kate Paulsen begins her pieces by throwing paint on the canvas and allowing happenstance to guide the painting. But the realities she creates speak achingly to real and literal locations. With a sharp, penetrating insight and fascination with outcomes, Paulsen’s paintings are skilfully depicted meditational worlds shaped by size, colour, mood and tone. In her most recent work, ‘A Meditative Landscape’ Paulsen engages the viewer in mythic scenes filled with temples, statues and monuments; a contemplation on naturally occurring forces fundamental to every culture with respect to love and passion. In October 2009 she returned to Canada from travels abroad, where she experienced a cultural awakening. This has allowed her to connect deeper to her artist within. Her search for meaning has motivated her to gather information on the distant past as a connective device to create an image in its entirety. She is seeking to disrobe icons of modernity and shed new light on age old archetypes. Hers is a meditative process of art making, where her research is honed on intellectual fact finding but her process of creation is not necessarily consciously attuned to this intellectual well of knowledge at the time of production: I throw and scrap paint onto a canvas I myself prepared. Then I pull the entire painting out of the shadows. To do this I establish a light source, a central idea fill in surrounding detail information both as decoration and pattern to ensure visual harmony. Just as an already existing set of natural conditions will set the tone for spirit and worship it is certain the same sacred archetypal patterns emerge from the stains and shadows.  I like to build up surface and then sand it down. These actions both keep the colour clean while bleaching out the intensity leaving a weathered surface while at the same time bring out associative elements and eliminate non-associative elements.

To see pictures from this exhibition, please visit our Flickr account


In concert with

Gallery Gachet Salon Shop presents
Downtown Eastside Spotlight

Fri April 12th – Sun May 5th: The Works of Richard Pooley

Art does not lie down on the bed that is made for it; it runs away as soon as one says its name; it loves to be incognito. Its best moments are when it forgets what it is called.
Jean Dubuffet

Richard Pooley’s 75 years of life have been colourful. His eclectic and diverse range of art works is reflective of his many lived experiences. His early life was based In Ontario, where he worked as a commercial artist in the industry gaining specific training on the job until during a period of extreme stress in his life he began to experience altered states of reality. He kept getting repeated thoughts that told him to kill his father. He came terrifying close to following through on this until one day he was able to connect to reality during a moment of clarity, and he checked himself into a hospital. Keen to diagnose, the hospital promptly labelled  him with Schizophrenia and then later with bi-polar. During his lengthy period of hospitalisation, he was forcibly given ECT (electric shock therapy) and underwent some devastating and life changing experiences. He moved to Vancouver and without formal training became a cartoonist. His painting practice got reignited 5 years ago after a long creative dry-spell, where he was re-inspired through his relationship to the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood and the feeling of connection and home that began to manifest. Through painting murals, he developed a penchant for Egyptian and mythological symbolism and artefacts. Ideas for Pooley are generated from outside sources – news/people/community/spirituality – but he also revels in spontaneous creation that centres from the core of his being.  Gallery Gachet is honoured to present Pooley’s inaugural exhibition of his work in an art gallery setting.


Thurs May 9th – Sun June 2nd:

Opening reception: Thurs May 9th
(in celebration of Canadian Mental Health Week, May 6th – 12th)

O liméd soul that struggling to be free
Art more engaged!

Small Worlds is a show of diorama objects, ranging from scenes in pill bottles, up to fish tanks and televisions. The scenes are of isolation, of lone figures struggling within their own small worlds. Larger scenes explore public and private living, the political idea of ‘space’ and its many meanings. Some of the individuals within these spaces struggle to be free. The work as a whole examines and confronts contemporary society as it is and the ways in which it oppresses people who are ‘different’ – these tiny people with blank faces who endure the trauma of contemporary life. The project also parallels Ward’s personal journey through mental illness: isolation, invisibility, and poverty, both spiritual and material. And for Ward, the personal is political: moving, as she has, from isolation to engagement, which is the movement this show attempts to enact. Therefore, she uses images and situations drawn from ideas and perspectives unique to the DTES: public spaces, isolated lives, the dramatic effects of gentrification, as well as mental illness, poverty, addiction and alienation.

For more information, please contact Lara Fitzgerald,

  • About Gallery Gachet

    Gallery Gachet is a unique artist-run centre located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Gachet is a collectively-run exhibition and studio space built to empower participants as artists, administrators and curators.


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    29'' front
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