In Dead Soldiers, one of the paintings in the Sandstorm series, Chris Woods alludes to a long tradition of depicting battles in art. (Chris Woods)

Return of the Jedi – and the Chilliwack Cultural Centre art gallery

The O’Connor Group Art Gallery re-opens today with Chris Woods’ Star Wars themed paintings

People will once again be allowed to visit the O’Connor Group Art Gallery at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, but only a handful of folks will be allowed in at a time.

After being closed for more than three months, the gallery doors will open today (July 8) for ‘Sandstorm,’ an exhibition by Chilliwack-based artist Chris Woods whose hyper-realistic work takes a look at the original Star Wars trilogy through the eyes of the antagonist Darth Vader.

The huge paintings in this famed series are based on screen captures from the genre-defining sci-fi action films.

Woods goes beyond the ‘good-guy, bad-guy’ Hollywood dichotomy by turning the narrative of the Star Wars trilogy inside out and exploring the idea that Vader’s history of personal trauma, isolation and abuse stands at the root of an adult who never truly had the chance to choose good over evil.

The re-opening of the gallery will limit patrons to five at a time to ensure proper physical distancing. Face masks covering both nose and mouth must be worn at all times by anyone entering the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, and enhanced operating protocol must be followed.

Many of Woods’ other paintings depict his immediate environment: close friends and the consumer landscape composed of malls, fast-food restaurants and 7-Elevens that surrounds them. He uses his friends as subjects, painting them against a backdrop of belligerent branding, pop-culture symbols, and omnipresent advertising.

Woods has exhibited 18 solo shows since 1988, and appeared in numerous group shows in Canada and the United States. His work is held in numerous public and private collections worldwide, and has appeared in Naomi Klein’s book No Logo as well as magazines like Saturday Night and Adbusters.

Sandstorm will be on display in the art gallery from Wednesday, July 8 to Friday, August 17. Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday to Friday (closed on holidays). Admission is free.

RELATED: Spotlight on Chilliwack alumni artists at the Hello, Goodbye Mass Reunion

RELATED: Outdoor evening exhibition lights up Chilliwack artist’s property


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