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  • Contemporary Art Gallery and Ballet BC:  Build a unique art-dance commission The CAG and Ballet BC in association with the Art|Basel Crowdfunding Initiative are excited to announce a new project. For our project, selected by independent jury for Art|Basel’s curated page on Kickstarter, we are commissioning visual artists John Wood and Paul Harrison to team with the renowned dancers of Ballet BC, to produce a collaborative cross-disciplinary performance combining the very best in both contemporary dance and visual art. Read more about the project here: http://bit.ly/cagXbbc Or go to the Art|Basel Crowdfunding Initiative page here: https://www.kickstarter.com/pages/artbasel?ref=artbasel The funds will be used to bring the visual artists to Vancouver for an intensive development period during spring and fall 2015 with the premiere in 2016. The collaboration between CAG and Ballet BC recognizes the distinctive contribution each of us brings to the project, making the whole much bigger than the sum of its constituent parts. Our supporters are a major part of this, extending that partnership into a broader sense of sharing and building a real community involvement in this dynamic venture. MORE
    John Wood and Paul Harrison, 10x10 (Hiding, detail). Courtesy the artists and Carroll/Fletcher, London
  • Opening: Thursday, November 20, 7-10pm Artist present  Shimabuku November 21, 2014 – January 11, 2015 The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first solo exhibition of work in North America by renowned Japanese artist Shimabuku. A major career moment, this survey follows recent exhibitions in Europe where he is arguably much better known and provides a crucial opportunity for North American audiences to see his work, an important stage in understanding Shimabuku’s artistic practice. The exhibition includes pieces dating back to the mid-1990s, when he first emerged as an artist in Japan, through to presenting a wide variety of more recent pieces for which he has since become internationally celebrated, exemplifying an extraordinary curiosity and freedom of expression. Shimabuku uses installation, video, photography, drawings, sculptural pieces and events alike to convey his intense fascination with the natural world—equally the animal and vegetable realms—and the countless manifestations of human culture within it. His artistic proposition is essentially one of discovery. He encourages us to assume an “alien” identity whereby we break with established habits of perception, and enjoy experiences as if they are happening to us for the first time. From the beginning, incongruity has characterised much of Shimabuku’s work. For example, Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere (1994) is a performance (with subsequent photographic documentation) that involves the artist standing by a railway line in Kobe, in the guise of Father Christmas. Instead of sacks of gifts, he is holding blue plastic bags full of rubbish. The gentle surrealism of the image is compelling. Enchanted by the thought that Christmas occurs during the summer months in the southern hemisphere, he hoped to inspire passengers who might catch a fleeting glimpse of him from the train window, with dreams of Christmas in the summertime. In his work Shimabuku is not so interested in discovering the reasons why, instead preoccupied, through a joyful approach, with unions of myth or mystery and the everyday. This is epitomized by Something that Floats / Something that Sinks (2008), a work through which the artist draws our attention to the fact that some pieces of fruit and vegetables float in water or appear to swim, while others sink. It is as wonderful as it is seemingly miraculous.Likewise, in later works, we see a the artist dressed up as a bear, waiting for days on a park bench with a live octopus, or standing behind a market stall giving away ice cream covered with pepper and salt. Of the latter he explains, “I think cooking and art are similar. They are both about unexpected meetings of far-away ingredients, to create something delicious, something good”. The inversion of the way things are conventionally seen to be is crucial to Shimabuku’s practice. He is interested in what is normal being made strange and often picks up the theme of the journey in his work, the means by which difference occurs through translation in both time and space.. The photograph Cucumber Journey (2000) commemorates a two week performance travelling slowly north on British canals while learning to pickle vegetables. In his video Then, I decided to give a tour of Tokyo to the octopus from Akashi (2000) we see him with an octopus in a fishtank taking a Shinkansen train to Tokyo. There they make touristic visits to the Tokyo Tower and the famous Tsukiji fish market before getting back on the train for a return trip so that the octopus can be submerged again, back home in the Akashi Sea. The artist refers to this work as his Apollo project, involving as it did an adventure far from the natural habitat of the octopus – the fishtank being the equivalent of a spacecraft – isolated from the surrounding atmosphere so that the octopus could survive its voyage into unfamiliarity. We easily imagine how weird our world must have seemed to the octopus whilst being reminded of how “wonderful” such a creature is from our point of view. The involvement of others, not only in the consumption but also the production of his work, marks Shimabuku out as a major figure in the recent development of relational art practice. Since his early collaborations with other Japanese artists such as Makoto Nomura and Tadasu Takamine, he has produced many events, interventions and performances that are very open to audiences, to the point that they become active participants. When the Earth Turned to Sea (2002) requires dozens of volunteers to fly Chinese fish kites, the result is a shoal of fish in the sky – or a flock of fish – and so the world is turned upside down. Passing through the rubber band (2000), similarly invites gallery visitors to step through the stretching loops, a simple act of fun and wonder via the most modest of means. Demonstrating the breadth of Shimabuku’s oeuvre, works reveal an essential correspondence to much that is happening elsewhere in a wider art world. At the same time, the exhibition insists on our grasp of the continuity that exists between art and (non-art) life. Its unpretentiousness is refreshing, and leads us to the conclusion that he is one of the most radical and engaging artists of our times. The exhibition forms a loose allegiance and is complementary to recent survey exhibitions in Europe, namely Something That Floats, Something That Sinks, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK, July 24 – September 15, 2013, and Flying Me, Kunsthalle Bern, April 4 – May 25, 2014. MORE
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    21 Nov, 2014 – 11 Jan, 2015
    Shimabuku, When Sky Was Sea (2002), DV transferred onto DVD, kites, pencil on paper 3.25 minutes, looped Edition of 5. Courtesy Air de Paris, Paris.
  • The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first Canadian solo presentation of work by Swedish artist Gunilla Klingberg, two new interrelated large-scale commissions across the gallery façade and off-site, both challenging and exploiting the opportunities presented at each location.   Klingberg’s practice is characterized by the intersection of received knowledge, folk beliefs, popular culture and divergent cultural activities. Her work draws our attention to how complicated the connections between these systems are, but it also plays with the things that arise in this encounter, a pivotal feature being an interest in what is produced by the hybridization of distinct cultures, traditions and geographies. The disparate and heterogeneous are interwoven creating meanings that mutate to form a new context.   At the gallery and the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, two murals of seemingly quasi-oriental pattern appear to evoke cosmic mandalas, transforming the individual spaces and enveloping the viewer in light and colour, shifting patterns and reflections. Klingberg’s work surrounds us. We are seduced, made part of a special atmosphere, immersed within the work rather than just looking at it. Her interest in using patterns and movement to manipulate our seeing, to influence our state of consciousness and our sensory impressions, has links with Op Art and the psychedelic movement of the late sixties, appropriate touchstones in the recent history of the counter culture in this part of the world.   However, what at first glance appears to recall a certain set of values and moments in time has another dimension, a different shared experience. If we look more closely we see that the intricate ornamentation, the symmetrically repeated symbols of these murals, is made up of something much more mainstream, corporate logos from Canadian low cost and high street stores. Concepts are intertwined: while science might appropriate metaphors from mythologies or New-Age ideas borrow from the language of the natural sciences, here spirituality merges with everyday consumer culture. Klingberg suggests that they are analogous, that both seem to promise the same thing: a state in which nothing is uncomfortable or threatening – the possibility of total, rapid satisfaction of our needs and desires, accessible to everyone. The images are so familiar that we no longer think about them, yet they present a subconscious influence uniting us in a no-man’s land between the public and the private. She evokes a spirit of community, or of communality, and poses questions regarding what it would be to have something in common.   Amid the proliferation of progressively similar goods it is the small, meaningful differences that count. The world around us is increasingly transformed into a surface filled with signs—computer screens, urban space, advertisements, the pages of newspapers— the most tangible properties being disposability and change. It is these surfaces that concern Klingberg. Our urban environment, its dwindling public places increasingly invaded by homogenous architecture and development, the objects we own, all constitute an intricate system of codes, messages and ideologies, our choices and participation tantamount to consuming. The boundary between art and design is often drawn along the line of utility and usefulness. But the edge becomes increasingly elastic when the difference between the values of these forms depends not so much on their functionality as on their seductiveness or power of rhetorical persuasion. Thus Klingberg’s work moves further than a mere critique of brand fetishism, the lure of contemporary global labels, beyond just pointing things out and rejecting them. It poses the awkward question of whether being alternative to a mainstream or on the “outside” is any longer possible. Might a more critical and appropriate assessment lie in revealing and acknowledging the subtle and insidious way in which we are all drawn into a sense of fascination with the things that surround us. Through her work we find ourselves in a situation in which we feel the power of images and beliefs being examined. We are all complicit.   The exhibition is supported by Iaspis, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual Artists.   MORE
    Gunilla Klingberg, Brand New View (Vancouver), 2014. Vinyl adhesives Installation view, CAG. Courtesy the artist. Photo Scott Massey.
  • Only A Free Individual Can Create A Free Society is a new film installation by German artist Grace Schwindt which revisits discussions she witnessed as a child surrounded by individuals in Frankfurt, Germany. The dialogue running through the film is from an interview that Schwindt conducted with a leftwing activist influenced by the 1960s and 1970s political landscape, shaped by the Frankfurt School, the Outer Parliamentary Opposition and the Baader Meinhof Gang. Rather than aiming to gain a better understanding of the past, Schwindt attempts to take a system apart — to undo it. Nothing is assumed to be neutral and every movement, word, gesture or colour is understood to have cultural, social, political or economic implications. The artist constructs her own processes of translating language into vivid material, choreographing dancers, set, props, costume, lighting, sound, camera movement and words as elementary forms carrying symbolic power. Each element is equally important and should be read together as a melody where the words or functions of ‘chair’ or ‘terrorism’, ‘clothing’ or ‘freedom’ have equal status. At feature film length Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society is the product of an extensive rehearsal period with eleven dancers and a dramaturge over a period of five weeks using diagrams to map out a detailed choreography. The film features highly coloured and geometric costumes using aluminium, cardboard, silk and velvet, as well as extensive post-production to create a narrative that questions how freedom was, and is, understood, who has access to it and what political and social structures need to be in place to create a free society. Alongside the installation the exhibition includes a newly commissioned sculptural piece, redolent of images pictured in the film. Constructed from salt crystals, bronze and ceramic, it has a bodily suggestion, evoking a sense of place and subject through its shape, materiality and form. Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society’ was commissioned by FLAMIN Productions through Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network, Eastside Projects, Birmingham; The Showroom, London; Badischer Kunstverein; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Site Gallery, Sheffield; Tramway, Glasgow; ICIA, University of Bath; and Zeno X Gallery. Supported by Arts Council England, Hessian Film Fund and The Jerwood Charitable Foundation. Presented with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Grace Schwindt (born 1979, Germany) is an artist based in London working with film, live performance and sculpture. Her theatrical sets for film works use minimal architectural elements and props to mark a location, in which she places bodies including her own. Using a tightly scripted choreography in which every move relates to institutionalised systems she investigates how social relations and understandings about oneself are formed, often through acts of exclusion and destruction. The artist’s interviews with individuals often serve as a starting point for fictionalised dialogues delivered by performers. Represented by Zeno X Gallery in Antwerp, her work is distributed by Argos Centre for Media and Art. Recent solo presentations include South London Gallery; ICA, London; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Spill Festival, Basement, Brighton; Collective Gallery, Edinburgh and White Columns, New York. Schwindt was shortlisted for this year’s Jarman Film Award. Running time: 80 min Screening times: 12pm, 1.30pm, 3.00pm, 4.30pm daily during gallery opening hours MORE
    Grace Schwindt, Only A Free Individual Can Create A Free Society, production still. Courtesy of the artist.
  • The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first solo exhibition of Canadian artist Krista Belle Stewart, the culmination of a fall 2014 residency at the Nisga’a Museum comprising new works developed in Nisga’a and at her ancestral home in Douglas Lake, BC. Stewart’s practice reclaims personal and cultural narratives from colonial archives, situating them in dialogue with contemporary indigenous discourse and engaging the complexities of intention and interpretation. In relation to this reframing of documents, Stewart’s new installation considers First Nations women’s self-representation and sovereignty. Working with her personal stories and those of the women she met in Nisga’a, Stewart investigates how cultural knowledge is created and exchanged, weaving together new lens-based works with archival photographs and objects from Nisga’a. In 1998 the Nisga’a Nation signed a treaty with the BC and Canadian governments that recognized their land sovereignty and right of self-government, the first to be signed in the province since the 1850s. Such recent challenges to government control of indigenous lands, also including the current fight against Kinder Morgan and the Northern Gateway pipelines and “Idle No More”, highlight a growing urgency in First Nations communities to detach from Canada’s colonial confines. Although delineated by the Canadian government, both reservation and sovereign lands offer potential in developing new and revived connections with pre-colonial First Nations economic and political traditions. Central to the exhibition is an ongoing project, a bucket filled with distinctive red soil from land owned by Stewart on the Douglas Lake reservation, and passed down to her from her mother’s family. Not only a physical connection to her heritage but also a response to the continued dispossession of First Nations women’s land rights. A projection depicts the artist and her mother in Douglas Lake, and young women and elder matriarchs in Nisga’a. Shot in two geographically and culturally diverse landscapes, each woman is documented in her ancestral home, their personal stories rooted in an understanding of place evoking a diversity of embedded experiences on indigenous land. Opened in 2011 in the town of Laxgalts’ap (also known as Greenville), the Nisga’a Museum holds over 300 repatriated cultural objects that have been absent from the community for over a century. It is a multifarious space operating as a potential economic driver in the community as both a monument to and entry point into Nisga’a culture, while also existing as a site seeking to develop intimate dialogues among contemporary Nisga’a and their ancestors. While hosting a permanent installation that utilizes the tropes of colonial histories through the development of a linear and didactic narrative of Nisga’a culture, it is also an institution evolving through engagement with local community. Lacking detailed archival notes on each object, the museum has focused on connecting Nisga’a oral histories with these artefacts through tours and ongoing conversations with community elders. The Nisga’a is made up of four pdeek (tribes): Laxsgiik (Eagle), Gisk’aast (Killer Whale), Ganada (Raven), and Laxgibuu (Wolf). With ceremonies, customs and histories specific to each tribe there are layers of conflicting interpretations and information for many objects in the collection. Yet through the repatriation of their material cultural history is emerging a contemporary revival of pre-colonial traditions, asserting the museum as platform for active knowledge exchange across generations and offering opportunities for personal and collective decolonization. Alongside new works Stewart has selected pieces from the Nisga’a Museum including an image showing a Nisga’a woman in a full chief’s regalia surrounded by men dressed in traditional and western clothing. With no written history or archive Stewart could not confirm that the photograph actually depicted a female chief despite knowing that Nisga’a was traditionally a matriarchal society. Originally shot by Benjamin Haldane, a Tsimshian photographer from Alaska who travelled throughout the Nass Valley area in the early 1900s actively documenting the people of his community until his death in 1941. Recording a time of great cultural and social upheaval on the northwest coast, images of families, social events and traditional ceremonies such as potlatches (illegal at the time) document a contemporary and evolving culture, Haldane’s images offer an example of First Nations self-representation, a counter to the more usual colonial-settler’s gaze. There is a kinship between Haldane’s and Stewart’s practices through the production of complex and diverse documents of First Nations self-representation. Within this Stewart infiltrates male-centered narratives of colonial culture and reasserts connections to pre-colonial matriarchal traditions while considering the tensions present between the institution as colonial support structure and a living entity shaped by the community it represents. This project is made possible with the generous support provided by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, British Columbia Arts Council, the Nisga’a Nation through the Nisga’a Lisims Government and Western Front. Additional assistance provided by Budget Car and Truck Rental, Terrace. Krista Belle Stewart is a member of Okanagan/Upper Nicola Band, living and working in Vancouver. Exhibition/ performances include Shelved, the Burnaby Art Gallery (with Rebecca Belmore) and Fiction/Non-fiction, The Esker Foundation, Calgary. Most recently, Stewart was commissioned by the City of Vancouver as part of the “Year of Reconciliation”, the Granville and Georgia Street entrance of the City Centre Station, the Canada Line, hosted Stewart’s Her Story (2014), a public photo mural and video installation, utilizes footage of a 1967 CBC documentary entitled Seraphine: Her Own Story, a scripted interpretation of her mother’s journey from residential school to becoming BC’s first Aboriginal public health nurse. As a gallery installation, Stewart juxtaposes the film, in which her mother plays herself, alongside a video of her mother’s 2013 Truth and Reconciliation Commission interview, generating a conversation between depiction and lived experience. In Music from the New Wilderness (2014) at the Western Front, Vancouver, Stewart produced a collaborative multimedia performance working with circa 1918 wax-cylinder recordings by anthropologist James Alexander Teit of her great-grandmother. A string quartet responded live to Stewart’s loops of these traditional Okanagan songs presented alongside visual projections. Opened in 2011 in the town of Laxgalts’ap (formerly Greenville), the Nisga’a Museum holds over 300 repatriated cultural objects that have been absent for over a century. It is a multifarious space operating as a potential economic driver in the community as both a monument to and entry point into Nisga’a culture, while also existing as a site to develop intimate dialogues among contemporary Nisga’a and their ancestors. While hosting a permanent installation that utilizes the tropes of colonial histories through the development of a linear and didactic narrative of Nisga’a culture, it is also an institution evolving through engagement with local community. Lacking detailed archival notes on each object, the museum has focused on connecting Nisga’a oral histories with these artefacts through tours and ongoing conversations with community elders. The Nisga’a is made up of four pdeek (tribes): Laxsgiik (Eagle), Gisk’aast (Killer Whale), Ganada (Raven), and Laxgibuu (Wolf). With ceremonies, customs and histories specific to each tribe there are layers of conflicting interpretations and information for many objects in the collection. Yet through the repatriation of their material cultural history is emerging a contemporary revival of pre-colonial traditions, asserting the museum as platform for active knowledge exchange across generations and offering opportunities for personal and collective decolonization. Alongside new works Stewart has selected pieces from the Nisga’a Museum including an image showing a woman in a full chief’s regalia surrounded by men dressed in traditional and western clothing. With no written history or archive Stewart could not confirm that the photograph actually depicted a female chief despite knowing that Nisga’a was traditionally a matriarchal society. Originally shot by Benjamin Haldane, he was a Tsimshian photographer from Alaska who travelled throughout the Nass Valley area in the early 1900s actively documenting the people of his community until his death in 1941. Recording a time of great cultural and social upheaval on the northwest coast, images of families, social events and traditional ceremonies such as potlatches (illegal at the time) document a contemporary and evolving culture, Haldane’s images offer an example of First Nations self-representation, a counter to the more usual ethnographic gaze. There is a kinship between Haldane’s and Stewart’s practices through the production of complex and diverse documents of First Nations self-representation. Within this Stewart infiltrates male-centered narratives of colonial culture and reasserts connections to pre-colonial matriarchal traditions while considering the tensions present between the institution as colonial support structure and a living entity shaped by the community it represents. This project is made possible with the generous support provided by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, British Columbia Arts Council, and the Nisga’a Nation through the Nisga’a Lisims Government. Additional assistance is from Budget Car and Truck Rental, Terrace and special thanks to Western Front, Vancouver. MORE
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    23 Jan, 2015 – 15 Feb, 2015
    Krista Belle Stewart, production still, Nisga'a Museum, 2014.
  • Shannon Bool The Flight of the Medici Mamluk January 23 to April 19, 2015 Off-site: Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada Line The Contemporary Art Gallery presents an ambitious new commission at the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station by Canadian artist Shannon Bool. Originally from Vancouver Island, she attended Emily Carr University before studying in New York, Frankfurt and moving to Berlin. Bool typically references a wide variety of historical and monumental decorative objects in her work, from Michelangelo’s David to the ornamentation on Etruscan tombs. While the Tuscan themes in recent projects specifically developed during her 2013 residency at the Villa Romana in Florence, her reinterpretation of these objects is characteristic of her practice in commenting on the role of decorative arts within art history, as well as on the change in meaning that occurs through the replication and alteration of significant and well known items. For the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Bool has worked with a photographer to document the 16th Century Egyptian Medici Mamluk carpet, recently rediscovered stored in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy.  Mamluk style carpets figured significantly in Mediterranean commerce, appearing in Venetian paintings of this time, and are characterized by a central medallion surrounded by a variety of smaller geometric motifs, forming a kaleidoscopic appearance, the palette limited to red, blue, green and yellow tones. In many such carpets the vast and complex patterns suggest notions of eternity and evoke cosmic associations with Buddhist thought. While undoubtedly they should not be read as some form of direct mapping of philosophical intent, the designs themselves may be influenced by such ideas from central Asia and also reflect patterns in Moorish architecture which connect to similar philosophical readings of mathematical logic and infinity. By combining patterns from and with historical vernacular objects, Bool’s interventions play with the mechanical reproduction of geometric sources and iconography. In previous work taking impetus from floor surfaces, Bool made Casino Runner (Aztec Inn) by blowing up a segment of a cheap wall-to-wall carpet encountered at a Las Vegas casino hotel. The original carpet was laden with random appropriations from ancient Aztec culture and Anatolian ornaments, which the artist underlined in having her version hand woven by Turkish weavers. The casino itself is a throwback to the iconic Art Deco monument, the Aztec Hotel that still operates in Monrovia, California. American Art Deco used the powerful geometry of ancient Mexican civilizations to break from European aesthetic traditions. Bool’s carpet, exquisitely hand-knotted by traditional village weavers in Anatolia, Turkey, heightens – even fetishizes – the production values combining the sublime and hysterical experience of entering a casino with the distinctly Eastern reading of a Western sensibility. Here, Bool has painstakingly pieced together images of the Mamluk carpet for the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, itself unusual due to its gigantic size and pristine condition, to reproduce the whole carpet at almost exact scale across the glass façade of the building. Amazing in its detail, intricacy and partial signs of use, the image records literally and metaphorically both the patterns and passages of time, in much the same way as the busy station is itself an embodiment of a space of people passing through. Suspended in the everyday space of the station and tilted as if afloat, the work shows some of the mathematical and geometrical sensibilities that are seldom acknowledged but directly influenced renaissance thought. This will be the first new commission by Bool with the Contemporary Art Gallery during 2015, a second project to evolve for late spring. Presented in partnership with the Canada Line Public Art Program – IntransitBC. Shannon Bool lives and works in Berlin. Solo exhibitions include: The Fourth Wall Through the Third Eye, Galerie Kadel Willborn, Düsseldorf; Walk Like an Etruscan, Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto (2013); The Inverted Harem II, Bonner Kunstverein (2011);  CRAC Alsace, Altkirch, France; The Inverted Harem, GAK-Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen (2010); RMIT Project Space, Melbourne, Australia (2008). Group exhibitions include MMK2 Boom She Boom, Works from the MMK Collection, Frankfurt; The Klöntal Triennale, Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland (2014); Soft Pictures, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaugengo, Turin; Painting Forever!, KW, Berlin; Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Toronto (2013); the Sprengel Museum, Hannover (2012); 7×14, Kunsthalle Baden-Baden; Tactical Support, Gallery Tracy Williams, New York; Rock Opera, CACP Museum of Contemporary Art, Bordeaux (2009); Drawing on Sculpture: Graphic Interventions on the Photographic Surface, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2007); Make Your Move, Projects Arts Centre, Dublin; Spiralen der Erinnerung, Kunstverein in Hamburg; Carbonic Anhydride, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin (2006). Work is held in the collections of Berlinische Galerie Landesmuseum Fur Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur, Berlin; MMK Museum fur Modern Kunst, Frankfurt am Main; Lenbachhaus, Munich, and the Saatchi Collection, London. She is represented by Kadel Willborn Gallery in Düsseldorf and Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto. MORE
    Shannon Bool, Mamluk, production detail. Courtesy the artist and Daniel Faria Gallery.
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Current Exhibitions

Contemporary Art Gallery and Ballet BC:  Build a unique art-dance commission

The CAG and Ballet BC in association with the Art|Basel Crowdfunding Initiative are excited to announce a new project.

For our project, selected by independent jury for Art|Basel’s curated page on Kickstarter, we are commissioning visual artists John Wood and Paul Harrison to team with the renowned dancers of Ballet BC, to produce a collaborative cross-disciplinary performance combining the very best in both contemporary dance and visual art.

Read more about the project here: http://bit.ly/cagXbbc

Or go to the Art|Basel Crowdfunding Initiative page here: https://www.kickstarter.com/pages/artbasel?ref=artbasel

The funds will be used to bring the visual artists to Vancouver for an intensive development period during spring and fall 2015 with the premiere in 2016.

The collaboration between CAG and Ballet BC recognizes the distinctive contribution each of us brings to the project, making the whole much bigger than the sum of its constituent parts. Our supporters are a major part of this, extending that partnership into a broader sense of sharing and building a real community involvement in this dynamic venture.

MORE

John Wood & Paul Harrison - CAG/Ballet BC: Build a unique art/dance commission


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Current Exhibitions

Opening: Thursday, November 20, 7-10pm
Artist present 

Shimabuku
November 21, 2014 – January 11, 2015

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first solo exhibition of work in North America by renowned Japanese artist Shimabuku. A major career moment, this survey follows recent exhibitions in Europe where he is arguably much better known and provides a crucial opportunity for North American audiences to see his work, an important stage in understanding Shimabuku’s artistic practice.

The exhibition includes pieces dating back to the mid-1990s, when he first emerged as an artist in Japan, through to presenting a wide variety of more recent pieces for which he has since become internationally celebrated, exemplifying an extraordinary curiosity and freedom of expression. Shimabuku uses installation, video, photography, drawings, sculptural pieces and events alike to convey his intense fascination with the natural world—equally the animal and vegetable realms—and the countless manifestations of human culture within it. His artistic proposition is essentially one of discovery. He encourages us to assume an “alien” identity whereby we break with established habits of perception, and enjoy experiences as if they are happening to us for the first time.

From the beginning, incongruity has characterised much of Shimabuku’s work. For example, Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere (1994) is a performance (with subsequent photographic documentation) that involves the artist standing by a railway line in Kobe, in the guise of Father Christmas. Instead of sacks of gifts, he is holding blue plastic bags full of rubbish. The gentle surrealism of the image is compelling. Enchanted by the thought that Christmas occurs during the summer months in the southern hemisphere, he hoped to inspire passengers who might catch a fleeting glimpse of him from the train window, with dreams of Christmas in the summertime. In his work Shimabuku is not so interested in discovering the reasons why, instead preoccupied, through a joyful approach, with unions of myth or mystery and the everyday. This is epitomized by Something that Floats / Something that Sinks (2008), a work through which the artist draws our attention to the fact that some pieces of fruit and vegetables float in water or appear to swim, while others sink. It is as wonderful as it is seemingly miraculous.Likewise, in later works, we see a the artist dressed up as a bear, waiting for days on a park bench with a live octopus, or standing behind a market stall giving away ice cream covered with pepper and salt. Of the latter he explains, “I think cooking and art are similar. They are both about unexpected meetings of far-away ingredients, to create something delicious, something good”.

The inversion of the way things are conventionally seen to be is crucial to Shimabuku’s practice. He is interested in what is normal being made strange and often picks up the theme of the journey in his work, the means by which difference occurs through translation in both time and space.. The photograph Cucumber Journey (2000) commemorates a two week performance travelling slowly north on British canals while learning to pickle vegetables. In his video Then, I decided to give a tour of Tokyo to the octopus from Akashi (2000) we see him with an octopus in a fishtank taking a Shinkansen train to Tokyo. There they make touristic visits to the Tokyo Tower and the famous Tsukiji fish market before getting back on the train for a return trip so that the octopus can be submerged again, back home in the Akashi Sea. The artist refers to this work as his Apollo project, involving as it did an adventure far from the natural habitat of the octopus – the fishtank being the equivalent of a spacecraft – isolated from the surrounding atmosphere so that the octopus could survive its voyage into unfamiliarity. We easily imagine how weird our world must have seemed to the octopus whilst being reminded of how “wonderful” such a creature is from our point of view.

The involvement of others, not only in the consumption but also the production of his work, marks Shimabuku out as a major figure in the recent development of relational art practice. Since his early collaborations with other Japanese artists such as Makoto Nomura and Tadasu Takamine, he has produced many events, interventions and performances that are very open to audiences, to the point that they become active participants. When the Earth Turned to Sea (2002) requires dozens of volunteers to fly Chinese fish kites, the result is a shoal of fish in the sky – or a flock of fish – and so the world is turned upside down. Passing through the rubber band (2000), similarly invites gallery visitors to step through the stretching loops, a simple act of fun and wonder via the most modest of means.

Demonstrating the breadth of Shimabuku’s oeuvre, works reveal an essential correspondence to much that is happening elsewhere in a wider art world. At the same time, the exhibition insists on our grasp of the continuity that exists between art and (non-art) life. Its unpretentiousness is refreshing, and leads us to the conclusion that he is one of the most radical and engaging artists of our times.

The exhibition forms a loose allegiance and is complementary to recent survey exhibitions in Europe, namely Something That Floats, Something That Sinks, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK, July 24 – September 15, 2013, and Flying Me, Kunsthalle Bern, April 4 – May 25, 2014.

MORE

Shimabuku - When Sky Was Sea


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Current Exhibitions

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first Canadian solo presentation of work by Swedish artist Gunilla Klingberg, two new interrelated large-scale commissions across the gallery façade and off-site, both challenging and exploiting the opportunities presented at each location.

 

Klingberg’s practice is characterized by the intersection of received knowledge, folk beliefs, popular culture and divergent cultural activities. Her work draws our attention to how complicated the connections between these systems are, but it also plays with the things that arise in this encounter, a pivotal feature being an interest in what is produced by the hybridization of distinct cultures, traditions and geographies. The disparate and heterogeneous are interwoven creating meanings that mutate to form a new context.

 

At the gallery and the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, two murals of seemingly quasi-oriental pattern appear to evoke cosmic mandalas, transforming the individual spaces and enveloping the viewer in light and colour, shifting patterns and reflections. Klingberg’s work surrounds us. We are seduced, made part of a special atmosphere, immersed within the work rather than just looking at it. Her interest in using patterns and movement to manipulate our seeing, to influence our state of consciousness and our sensory impressions, has links with Op Art and the psychedelic movement of the late sixties, appropriate touchstones in the recent history of the counter culture in this part of the world.

 

However, what at first glance appears to recall a certain set of values and moments in time has another dimension, a different shared experience. If we look more closely we see that the intricate ornamentation, the symmetrically repeated symbols of these murals, is made up of something much more mainstream, corporate logos from Canadian low cost and high street stores. Concepts are intertwined: while science might appropriate metaphors from mythologies or New-Age ideas borrow from the language of the natural sciences, here spirituality merges with everyday consumer culture. Klingberg suggests that they are analogous, that both seem to promise the same thing: a state in which nothing is uncomfortable or threatening – the possibility of total, rapid satisfaction of our needs and desires, accessible to everyone. The images are so familiar that we no longer think about them, yet they present a subconscious influence uniting us in a no-man’s land between the public and the private. She evokes a spirit of community, or of communality, and poses questions regarding what it would be to have something in common.

 

Amid the proliferation of progressively similar goods it is the small, meaningful differences that count. The world around us is increasingly transformed into a surface filled with signs—computer screens, urban space, advertisements, the pages of newspapers— the most tangible properties being disposability and change. It is these surfaces that concern Klingberg. Our urban environment, its dwindling public places increasingly invaded by homogenous architecture and development, the objects we own, all constitute an intricate system of codes, messages and ideologies, our choices and participation tantamount to consuming. The boundary between art and design is often drawn along the line of utility and usefulness. But the edge becomes increasingly elastic when the difference between the values of these forms depends not so much on their functionality as on their seductiveness or power of rhetorical persuasion. Thus Klingberg’s work moves further than a mere critique of brand fetishism, the lure of contemporary global labels, beyond just pointing things out and rejecting them. It poses the awkward question of whether being alternative to a mainstream or on the “outside” is any longer possible. Might a more critical and appropriate assessment lie in revealing and acknowledging the subtle and insidious way in which we are all drawn into a sense of fascination with the things that surround us. Through her work we find ourselves in a situation in which we feel the power of images and beliefs being examined. We are all complicit.

 

The exhibition is supported by Iaspis, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual Artists.

 

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Gunilla Klingberg - Brand New View (Vancouver)


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Current Events

Makiko Hara
Sunday, January 4, 3pm
A tour of the Shimabuku exhibition in Japanese led by curator Makiko Hara.

現在開催中の日本人アーティスト島袋道浩の『空が海だったころ』展のガイドツアーに参加しませんか?

バンクーバー在住のインディペンデントキュレター、原万希子が日英バイリンガルで展示作品とその背景についてツアーをします。詳しくは、下記のギャラリーウェッブサイトをご参照ください。

ウェッブサイトhttp://www.contemporaryartgallery.ca/exhibitions/shimabuku/

2015年1月4日(日)3時〜 参加費無料

Join us to tour the exhibition, ‘When Sky was Sea’ by renowned Japanese artist Shimabuku.

Vancouver based independent curator  Makiko Hara tours the exhibition in Japanese and English sharing her knowledge about the background of his artworks. See images and learn more about Shimabuku here:
http://www.contemporaryartgallery.ca/exhibitions/shimabuku/

Free!

Sunday, January 4, 3pm A tour of the Shimabuku exhibition in Japanese/english led by curator Makiko Hara.

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Free Guided Visit in Japanese | Makiko Hara


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Learning Resources

The City in Motion

CAG/TELUS Garden Public Art Commission

November, 2014 – February, 2015

This fall the CAG embarked on a unique public art commission and intensive program for emerging artists ages 17 to 25 years old. Selected to develop a community-based permanent multimedia installation for the TELUS office located in the new TELUS Garden building on West Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver, the CAG has organized The City in Motion, an intensive four month program for emerging artists interested in investigating the city through the frame of moving images. Supported by Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society and led by artist/mentors Josh Hite and Brian Lye, participants will consider how the city is documented and can be pictured through film, video and new media. The young artists will engage with the histories of documentary film and the city archive, interrogating contemporary forms of documentation from smart phones and social media to surveillance recordings. Youth will respond to the ideologies, perceptions and histories of the city, culminating in the production of a new commission for the TELUS Garden building.

This innovative program is an opportunity for youth to experiment with various media, offering training and mentorship on the concepts, documentation tactics and technical logistics for developing video/film/new media work. Through studio and gallery visits, workshops and screenings the group will be connected to Vancouver’s cultural community. Cineworks will host a screening of completed works in February 2015.

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The City in Motion - CAG/TELUS Garden Public Art Commission


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Recent Posts

Hello!

My name is Sally, I’m a temporary addition here, volunteering at the CAG, and with my time here hurrying by I wanted to fill you in on how I got here and all the cool stuff I’ve been doing at the CAG.

I’m from the UK and have come to Vancouver for six weeks as part of a four month adventure that has been the most memorable of my life.

My time here is part of a plan that involved leaving all the sensible things in my life, like a job and a flat so that I could stretch my legs over to the West Coast …or I should say, the ‘Best Coast.’

Things took shape after I sent some emails, one to Anchorage Museum in Alaska and the other to the CAG. I have been involved in arts and museum education since University, volunteering or working for different organizations and so I thought it would be brilliant to gain some experience overseas. The reply emails were nerve racking to open but I received, to my delight, welcoming replies. So it was decided and before I knew it I was Alaska bound, looking at the glaciers below wondering what the next four months would bring.

I spent seven weeks in Anchorage, with six of those as a volunteer at the museum getting to develop informal learning activities and facilitate family events. The photo below was taken on my phone in Sitka, onboard a little boat as I looked out for and encountered humpback whales. For me it captures how I feel about my time in Alaska.

After Anchorage I spent a couple of weeks exploring South East Alaska, Seattle and San Francisco before arriving here! My time in Vancouver keeps getting better. At the CAG I have been helping Shaun Dacey and Jas Lally with exciting projects that are teaching me loads. I have been developing learning resources for teachers to accompany the current exhibition, Shimabuku, When Sky Was Sea, helping with the CAGs first Teachers Social as well as the monthly Free Family Day   (I am now an Octopus expert… ask me anything!). I have also had the opportunity to get to know the talented team selected for The City in Motion – CAG/TELUS Garden Public Art project, I’ll have to come back to see the final installation!

I have been supported and welcomed by the CAG team, they have made sure that I eat at yummy places, find the best coffee and of course see loads of exciting art. And so I can’t say thank you enough, I’m sure my last week here will be a brilliant conclusion.

- Sally Page

P.S. Whatever you do! don’t miss the CAG and Ballet BC new partnership, a new dance+art commission with amazing UK artists John Wood and Paul Harrison. To read more click here: http://bit.ly/cagXbbc

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Hello from Sally! – From Anchorage to the Salish Coast


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