Sweet Dense City

Cranes insist,
swinging across the cityscape,
Candy-wrappered commodities oppress.
The glorious condo.
A sweet windowscape,
quivering with false pretenses.
Underneath lay the bitter renovictions,
and the hopelessly excluded.

Kent Lins – 2017



Sweet Dense City was constructed using Kent’s original photographs as a way to explore contradicting ideals about housing and real estate in Vancouver. This project carries forward Kent’s decades of line-dense work, intervening in built environments by deconstructing and reconstructing his own.
In his former medium, Kent created large-scale paintings of contrasting brushstrokes, diagonals and tones. With these he aimed to capture the forceful energy of people, places and states of mind through a restricted palette and large, dynamic surfaces.

Moving to photography as his primary medium, Kent sees the natural world and designs of cities as similar to the way he organized his paintings. Nature’s and humanity’s placement of structures, lines, grids and diagonals slow down or accelerate our movement in space, just as an artist controls the speed and directions in which our eyes enter an image and move around it.

Vancouver’s population has increased steadily, and so has the rate of urban development. The world flocks to this earthquake zone and new towers scrape the sky. Capital rises, and so too the homeless numbers. Multiple forces intersect to create these conditions – every day, each second – fast and seemingly invisible but with deep, material outcomes. The photographs in Sweet Dense City aim to capture these shifting states, these gliding strata.

Kent brings to his artwork a technique of fracturing. Reverse/perverse engineering an edifice, he dissects his images, displacing and relocating surface elements of the buildings he photographs. He interrogates these “windowscapes” like a geologist chips at shale, splinters of dazzling, transparent quartz breaking along thin laminae to show compacted rock underneath, dark as carbon. He then recombines the layers; the tectonic shift is reconstituted. In Kent’s artworks the city’s psychology of uncertainty is reconfigured into productive surfaces
and ecstatic forms. Sweet promises.

Van Galleries was created in 2017 by Kent Lins and Sally Buck as an alternative exhibition space in response to a city of unhinged property values and taxes. A place where emerging and unrepresented artists have a difficult task of finding galleries to show their work. Van Galleries’ exhibition space for Sweet Dense City was created using rebranded rental vans. For Capture 2018, vans were parked at various locations and times throughout the festival. People found the exhibits by viewing updates at the vangalleries.com website, or from social media links @vangalleries_ on Instagram, @vangalleries on Twitter, and @vangalleries on Facebook.