BAF Insider Series: Dion Kliner

Burrard Arts

“If you look where other people don’t, you’ll find what others are not seeing.”

These words from Dion Kliner encapsulate the intertwined ideas ingrained in The Mislooked, his current show at the Burrard Arts Foundation. The works pivot on the central duality of symmetry and asymmetry; that is, while visually Kliner finds himself drawn to forms that are imperfect, asymmetrical, and misshapen, he sees the act of focusing on these shapes and bodies as one of ultimate symmetry, or equality. The artist describes himself as “militantly interested in fairness and justice,” and to him, the act of elevating forms typically overlooked is about restoring symmetry to the inherently elitist human search for beauty.

Kliner’s unusual process and materials also reveal his interest in making use of what most people cast away. He modifies the classic art-school material, plaster, by repurposing old, hardened shards and powder discarded from previous work and blending it into wet plaster along with paper pulp and natural fibres, shaping the mixture over a frame of tree branches and wire. The combination causes the plaster to dry much more slowly than normal, allowing it be used in either an additive manner, building it up slowly like clay, or a subtractive one, similar to carving stone.