An immersive art experience at Riverview Hospital
By Aidan Mouellic, Staff Writer
I’ve visited art galleries and museums all around the world, but none of them has had as much of an impact on me as James Picard’s art show, The Dark and the Wounded. The show was held in the abandoned Crease Clinic building at Riverview Hospital on the night of October 27. It was less of a pure art show, and more of an art experience.
Picard, a Vancouver-based artist who specializes in dark and powerful oil paintings, used the symbolic space of the abandoned psychiatric hospital as the perfect place to display his paintings, which deal with the topics of pain, suffering, and hardship. Crease Clinic, where the paintings were displayed, was dark and spooky.
Having previously spent a lot of time there for work-related purposes, I’m familiar with what the decommissioned psychiatric hospital is like. But when the walls are adorned with Picard’s powerful and gory imagery and the halls are filled with the sounds of a haunting musical score by renowned composer Jeff Danna, you get a whole new experience—and that’s what Picard is hoping for.
The point of the show is to inform viewers of the types of tragedies that go unnoticed in the world, and to allow viewers to become more self-aware.
“You go through life wearing blinders and think that everything is beautiful, then you’re ignoring what’s really happening. When you stop ignoring, that’s when you heal,” Picard explained.
Healing is what the show hopes to achieve, and Picard is taking his art on tour throughout North America and soon to Europe in hopes of achieving that.
“When we don’t look at our wounds and think everything is fine, it festers because we’re not healing it and only putting Band-Aids on,” he said.
Picard’s show aims to heal by making us think about and confront the very fears that cause us to ignore the deeper rifts within society. In a way, he is on an ambitious mission to change and civilize the world—a grand task, but not an impossible one.
Picard realizes that there is a lot of bad stuff that goes on in the world and hopes that his show will be a critical worldwide intervention to open the eyes of people hoping to make change. We are all human and we all have the power within ourselves to make the world a better place.
The show that Picard created at Riverview Hospital attempted to effect change, and it did. The immersive experience of sonic, visual, and physical aspects transported the viewers into his ingeniously dark and powerful world.
Picard’s work is aesthetically moving and, more than that, it shares a message of healing and confronting stigmatized fears that society turns away from. This is important art.
Next up for Picard is a fundraiser and documentary trailer premier for The Dark and the Wounded on November 9 in Vancouver. Details for the event are available through his website at www.jamespicard.com