Anyone stepping into the gallery at McPherson Library at UVic will be confronted with some very impressive sculptures by Elias Wakan, an artist from Gabriola Island displaying examples of his different, expressive mediums.
Wakan shows his eye for nature with examples of photography in which the form of natural objects take in the lines of geometry. His photos are from a prolonged visit to Japan in which Wakan and his partner Naomi explored the art and culture of Japan as well as the natural beauty of the country.
Another of Wakan's specialties is a form of paper folding he calls "optifolds," which he describes as "origami meets Escher." Using heavy lithographic paper, he creates impossibilities and optical illusions all using the geometric line and bending at will. As well as paper, Wakan uses exposed X-rays and photographs in his folding to add another dimension to geometric shapes.
The best part of this show is Wakan's wood sculptures. Using his love of mathematics and geometric form, Wakan creates shapes using wood that would otherwise be discarded as rejects and seconds. These shapes come out as cones, cylinders and helixes that are bent and transformed into aesthetic waves mimicking nature.
Through sculpture, Wakan has given new life to milled wood in a way that pays homage to the nature surrounding us. Each cut in the wood he uses is a small portion of the bigger picture.
"The whole is built up of elements as it is everywhere in nature," says Wakan.
Wakan has called Gabriola Island home for the last five years and it is there he has taken his artistic endeavors more seriously. Setting up his own shop and investing in tools and supplies, Wakan has focused his time on furniture and sculpture design.
Before his relocation to the island, Wakan and his partner Naomi ran a small Vancouver-based publishing company called Pacific Rim Publishing.
The company specialized in educational books for and about Japan and Peru, written and edited by Naomi with design/layout tended by Wakan.
It was while he worked at his publishing business that Wakan started to find himself transforming the paper he had around him into emerging shapes. This was the catalyst that got the fire burning in him to create art in different mediums.