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Tanya Bub challenges the definition of the art space

Tanya Bub wants to take you out of the art space. For her, the art space becomes what you want it to be and can include breaking certain conventions of how art is displayed or even the physical boundaries of the gallery itself.

Mind Games: Defying the Art Space is the current exhibition showing at Art @Bentall throughout the month of November. Tanya has transformed the space with driftwood sculpture, wire sculpture and collage.

“I came in to see the space, and I saw there’s three very distinct areas,” Tanya says. “So, I thought in this case, I would do water, land and air.”

The idea is to transport the viewer into the space where the art subject would be found. For example, in the sea space, Tanya has a giant mermaid and octopus of driftwood while fish made of both driftwood and wire are suspended from the ceiling, giving a sense of being underwater.

In the land area, there is a life-sized horse of driftwood, which takes up much of the floor space, forcing people to move about it. Another is coming out of the wall.

“There’s the horse crashing through the wall, half in and half out. So, I wanted to sort of break down the walls of the gallery … the walls don’t bound this art physically.”

The concept of the show, Mind Games, comes from Tanya’s art itself and its use of materials that many people have some familiarity with.

“There’s a phenomenon when people come and see art, when they’re not expecting to see art or when they see it in a way that’s unexpected. It sort of pops them out of putting it into their box and gives them a moment or gives them a few moments where they can see something with fresh eyes.”

With her use of found and common materials as well as construction techniques that people can physically see, the brain starts switching between seeing the individual pieces of the materials and the finished sculpture.

“The materials are in some way familiar and in some ways unfamiliar. The construction, in some ways you can see how it’s done, but in some ways, it’s a bit of a mystery. Because it’s very raw. And when you look at the piece, you go, ‘Okay, there’s one piece of wood and there’s another piece of wood and there’s another. And they’re all stuck together. But now it’s a mermaid.’ It’s not like a bronze sculpture where you wouldn’t necessarily have a natural intuition about how it comes together. You can see what it is. The construction is transparent.”

The ways of things

While Tanya did study art at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, her eclectic life has taken her on a journey away and back to art. She has worked as a computer programmer and is the co-author of two books on physics, one on Einstein’s theory of relativity and the other on quantum mechanics.

Knowing this, it becomes easier to understand Tanya’s fascination with how things are constructed, how they work and how both principles influence her art.