Johann Wessels: Side Show opens at YLW


Visitors to the Kelowna International Airport (YLW) will notice something new on their way to the departure gates. Penticton-based artist Johann Wessels has created an installation entitled Side Show for the Kelowna Art Gallery’s forty-foot-long satellite gallery space located near the security screening area.

Wessels’ installation depicts a caravan of wheeled carts or wagons, reminiscent of a travelling carnival. He has fittingly named his piece Side Show, and thinks of it as a parallel to touring exhibitions of art – the production rolls into town, and people turn out to take in the show. The artist’s range of images is impressive – from a ripple in a pool of water, to a cluster of grotesque faces in front of an elongated, striped circus tent; Wessels is a master of realism, but also of distortion and the surreal. Whether consciously on his part or not, his work appears to embody a dark vision of life, and viewers might find themselves thinking of artists such as Goya or Ensor. Regardless of their art knowledge, visitors will no doubt be fascinated by the colourful and haunting spectacle of this new installation.

Wessels holds a BFA from the University of the Free State, in Bloemfontein, South Africa. He moved in Canada in 2000, and to the Okanagan in 2011, where he has been exhibiting his work.

Johann Wessels: Side Show will be on view from November 3, 2014 to May 11, 2015, at the Kelowna Art Gallery’s satellite space in the well-wishing area of the departures wing at the Kelowna International Airport.

For more information about current exhibitions, public programming or special events, please visit the Kelowna Art Gallery online at


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