Art Gallery of Alberta

All in the Family: Damian + Ron Moppett on Their First Joint Exhibition

Damian Moppett + Ron Moppett 

Written by Lynda Vang

On Tuesday, August 23 the Art Gallery of Alberta welcomed artists, Damian Moppett and Ron Moppett as the two artists installed their works in the AGA Atrium and Manning Hall, ahead of their exhibition, Damian Moppett + Ron Moppett (Every Story Has Two Sides) running from September 17- January 8, 2017 at your AGA.

Damian Moppett’s mobile, Broken Fall, hangs from the ceiling in the atrium – marking the first time a work of art has been suspended in the atrium. Beyond on the back wall of Manning Hall, Ron Moppett’s mural Wizards – a piece done in collaboration with AGA’s own curatorial designer, Charles Cousins, can be seen prominently in the background. During the installation we spoke with the artists about their work and how they felt about the first joint exhibition of the father and son.

Damian Moppett
Artist, Vancouver-based

Tell us more about Broken Fall
It’s a mobile that is made in reference to the works of Alexander Calder – a mid-century modernist, American sculptor. It’s a broken mobile, however, that speaks to the act of breaking something. There is one component of the mobile that will be sitting on the ground so the mobile won’t appear to be perfectly balanced because it’s broken. I’m very much interested in talking about how the act of destruction can be just as creative as making something.

Is this your first mobile?
I’ve made smaller mobiles and I’ve made works about balancing things but I guess this is the most elaborate, balance work that I’ve done. I wanted to make a piece that would take advantage of the space that it was designed for – which was in Vancouver at the Rennie Collection at Wing-Sang, which is a very vertical room. I didn’t think I’d have another opportunity to show it again – it’s hard to find a space with this much vertical height, so having Broken Fall at the AGA worked out nicely.

Is “make and break” a common theme in your work?
The idea of balance is something I work with – and to think about creating something and then breaking it, like this mobile, is also a type of balance. Although, Broken Fall is my only work that speaks to breaking, specifically.

Your upcoming exhibition Damian Moppet + Ron Moppett (Every Story Has Two Sides) marks the first time you and your father have been featured in a two person exhibition. Has it been difficult trying to get your works speak to each other?
We’re not entirely sure what the show will look like until we see it – which is the exciting part. You never really know what a show is going to look like until you have everything in the space. I think both, my dad and I have various works that speak to each other or have commonalities and we have works that don’t have much in common – so figuring out what relates to each other and then dividing the rest was a really interesting way of putting an exhibition together. There’s a dialogue but also a separation. I think it will be really interesting to see how it will all look like together.

Ron Moppett (left) and Damian Moppett (right) stand behind their works during installation of Broken Fall.

Ron Moppett (left) and Damian Moppett (right) stand behind their works during installation of Broken Fall.

Ron Moppett
Artist, Calgary-based

Tell me more about Wizards:
Wizards was created as a digital file. I created it with Charles Cousins – we worked together in the past so that was wonderful. In the beginning when I was invited to put something in this space I was going to go with a larger painting of mine or a reproduction of a large painting – but both Damian and my partner Katherine encouraged me to do something new and different.

Is this your first endeavour into something digital?
I’m not a computer guy – so this was fun to do. It is a larger version of the way I jam different images together in my paintings. In one way it’s not that different but as an exercise in a different form, it’s something new.

Was it difficult to jump from the painting world into the digital realm?
I often use projection as a drawing device when I’m painting so I’m used to working with small things and making them big and moving them around with a projector. Perhaps it’s really just an upgrade in sophistication because I didn’t have to get my hands dirty.

This is your first joint show with Damian?
We have ended up in group shows on occasion throughout the years. The idea for the show isn’t new – it’s been out there for some time. Catherine Crowston was the first to pick it up and give it legs and now here we are at the Art Gallery of Alberta.

Ron Moppett & Charles Cousins

Charles Cousins (left) and Ron Moppett (right) standing in front of Wizards

 Charles Cousins
Curatorial Designer, Edmonton

How did the collaboration come about?
I’ve been working here at the AGA for a few years now, and I’ve done some digital work for a number of
Ron’s projects in the past – so when the show came up Ron asked if I wanted to collaborate a little bit on the mural and it seemed like a natural fit. It’s very easy to work with Ron, he’s very collaborative and always open to ideas and experimenting.

What do you think about the joint exhibition with Ron and Damian at the AGA?
It’s such a great idea. There aren’t many families that include two very well-known and successful artists so being able to see the two artists together – to see the kind of work they do, their similarities, the influences they have on each other, while also being able to explore what’s really distinct and unique about their work – it’s such a unique opportunity. It’s going to be a great show.

Come by soon to take a look at Broken Fall and Wizards, and don’t miss  Damian Moppett + Ron Moppett (Every Story Has Two Sides) starting on Saturday, September 17, 2016