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  • The Contemporary Art Gallery welcomes the Feminist Land Art Retreat (FLAR) for the summer. FLAR was born in 2010 with a rock-concert style poster depicting mirrored images of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, FLAR transformed this seminal work of land art into something resembling fallopian tubes, while inviting the viewer to a fantasy event. This began FLAR’s conceptual and humorous subversion of familiar visual forms, including fashion, spa advertising, commemorative architecture, and aerial imagery. FLAR has continued appropriating commercial and art-historical images with irony, challenging commonly held notions of how feminism is embodied and expressed. MORE
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    21 Jun, 2017 – 21 Jun, 2017
    Feminist Land Art Retreat Treatment 6-7, 2016 Installation view, Kunsthaus Bregenz Billboards, Bregenz Austria. Image courtesy Kunsthaus Bregenz and the artist.
  • Song of the Open Road Vikky Alexander, Robert Arndt, Gerard Byrne, Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn, Kelly Jazvac, Kelly Lycan, Niamh O’Malley, Dawit L. Petros, Greg Staats, Lisa Tan April 1 to June 18, 2017 B.C. Binning, Alvin Balkind Galleries, Events room, Window Spaces and off-site at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada line Presented in partnership with Capture Photography Festival “You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here, I believe that much unseen is also here. … I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.” —Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road” (1856) Taking its title from a poem by Walt Whitman, the Contemporary Art Gallery presents a group exhibition as the central feature of this year’s Capture Photography Festival. Work is presented both inside and outside and across all of the gallery’s spaces, embracing a diverse set of conditions and approaches centred in a conceptual understanding of an expanded field of photographic practice that examines notions of what you see is most definitely not what you get. Bringing together artists from Canada, Eritrea, Ireland, Sweden, and the US, the exhibition includes works that combine thematically to interrogate ideas rooted in photographic histories, engaging ideas such as veracity, recollection, remembrance, belonging, staging, and how the image documents and records these or is evidence of differing realities. Key to the exhibition is Images or shadows of divine things (2005–), an ongoing series by Irish artist Gerard Byrne. Visually rich and intellectually complex, the artist’s work in photography, film, theatre, and multiscreen installation examines the slippage between time and the act of image creation. Presented here, a selection of these black-and-white photographs seems to depict a much earlier period, evoking vernacular photographic idioms of American midcentury photography and thus pointing toward the relationship between time, appearance, and the photographic document. Through a collection of over twenty images, a sense emerges that the series has a certain scale of vision. However, it is more about picturing the historical “conditions” of image making than it is about riffing on an aesthetic. That sense of conditions emerges only once the particularity of the given images is surpassed—that is when it becomes obvious that the specifics of the images are not the point, this realization becoming palpable when a sufficient number of them are grouped together. Robert Arndt’s activities search and reveal the means of accessing culture and history through the mediated forms of books, magazines and the Internet. Made for the exhibition, Remainders, Repeats and Rejects (2017) is characteristic in its investigation of production whereby documentation itself becomes the artwork. Alongside a large-scale photograph of the gallery wall on which it sits atop, Arndt’s work collects and conflates personal imagery with found and staged scenarios, highlighting the notion that documentation may be all that is required for an idea to exist and resonate. We imagine wide ranging connections, invent narratives and recognize links between images, all thoughts set in motion to create a diversity of potential meaning. Recent work by Canadian artist Kelly Lycan includes installations based on Gallery 291, the iconic New York photography gallery opened by Alfred Stieglitz in 1905. These recreations are developed through sourcing images available online, in an attempt to uncover an understanding or experience of the space while drawing on simulations of the photographic illusion of this. Song of the Open Road features a new version of Nearby Nearby, 291 Burlap Walls (2015), composed of a series of images of the walls of Gallery 291 culled from Internet searches. Printed on paper, the work creates a pixelated arena of varicoloured white grounds, where it is as if each image is forensically being drawn from some depths to emerge on the paper’s surface. As a contemporary of artists such as Richard Prince, James Welling and Sherrie Levine who were active in New York in the early 1980s, Vikky Alexander is often associated with the Pictures Generation. She is best known for work that foregrounds a strong interest in the histories of architecture, design, and fashion, often focusing on locations such as shopping malls, showrooms, and show apartments—sites of desire, aspirations, and ideas of home. The images are often complicated through light, reflections, and refractions and speak of a set of conditions and values embedded in appearances as seen through furnishings and the notional view from the window (here, a large-scale photo mural). Shown outdoors at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Model Suite (Sliding Door) (2005/17) interplays with its architectural surroundings; the station’s glass pavilion lends a further physical and visual layer as we see the daily activity on the street through the work itself. Ambient Advertising (2016), installed across the CAG’s windows, is a reconfigured work by Toronto-based Kelly Jazvac. Salvaged billboard images that she has reframed, manipulated and cut through, seemingly in reference to a quintessential Canadian landscape, visually envelop the gallery at street level. Taken from contemporary advertising, the imagery appeals to our collective sense of identity through reference to the romantic and awesome natural world that surrounds us while questioning the feeding of desire as driven by contemporary consumer culture. Alongside photographic work in a variety of processes, the exhibition also includes moving-image works. Sunsets (2012), by American artist Lisa Tan, combines literature and various historical and personal references to materially explore the intricate relationship between language, image, and experience. The video, filmed on the threshold between night and day, unfolds like a conversation. Seemingly inconsequential things pop up and take hold: a phone call interrupts, the sun starts to set, a stranger asks a question, translations are needed. The work narrates Tan’s engagement with enigmatic writers, with histories, technologies, and geographies that she knows, in order to mediate those that she doesn’t. Concerned with issues of visibility and the slippage between a moment and an image, Irish artist Niamh O’Malley investigates the construction and arrangement of time and document as revealed through the moving image. Across two large-scale screens, the silent black-and-white video Glasshouse (2014) unfolds as a lengthy tracking shot. As the camera moves seamlessly from left to right along the glass panes, the natural idyll disappears here and there as the glass becomes more or less opaque. Through this O’Malley draws our attention to the process of looking, the camera seemingly attempting to locate and uncover meaning. Yet as images fragment, blocked by stained and broken glass, such efforts are thwarted, challenging our perception of what it is we are actually viewing and of how the images are constructed. Born in Montreal and currently working in Stockholm, Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn investigates issues of historicity, collectivity, utopian politics, and multiculturalism, often revealing the unnoticed political relevance of seemingly trivial historical anecdotes by shedding light on stories overlooked, hidden, or deemed otherwise insignificant. Seizing Hold of a Memory as It Flashes Up (2010) is a blind embossing using the speech of twelve-year-old Severn Suzuki, daughter of Japanese Canadian science communicator and environmental activist David Suzuki, delivered at the 1992 Earth Summit. Suzuki and members of ECO, the Environmental Children’s Organization, raised the money to travel from Vancouver to Brazil so they could attend the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. Here, Suzuki delivered her speech before 172 representatives of different countries, 108 heads of state, and some 2,400 NGO representatives; 17,000 of the people who attended the parallel NGO Global Forum had consultative status, resulting in a meeting that ultimately led to the Kyoto Protocol. Toronto-based artist Greg Staats, Kanien’kehá:ka (b. Ohsweken, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory) whose works combine language, mnemonics and the natural world as an ongoing process of conceptualising a Haudenosaunee restorative aesthetic that defines the multiplicity of relationships with trauma and renewal. Staats addresses the systemic deficit of language—through personal and community archives and an intellectual and aesthetic interpretation of the body and ceremony. The installation untitled (objects of reciprocal thinking) (2014) combines both works from the beginning of the artist’s reflection of public and private within a Haudenosaunee linguistic and mnemonic continuum linked to place and recent works based on a reciprocal methodology. When at the edge of one’s condolence and within the liminal metaphysical space prior to renewal, there lies a hesitancy to move forward. While external and internal barriers must be overcome, the process must be completed with the help of others, both as witnesses and holders of the good mind. This ceremonial movement is comparable to moving from the darkness of the forest into the clearing where the light illuminates breath and one’s footing becomes clearer. The Mid-Winter (renewal) ceremony Gaihwayao:ni:, translated as “encouragement,” employs reciprocal gestures and words, repeatable to lifting up the mind after it has dropped down during condolence and/or post-trauma. Chicago-based Canadian Eritean artist Dawit L. Petros similarly reflects through personal and cultural histories on ideas surrounding place making that are centred on a critical rereading of the relationship between African histories and European modernism. The book About the Author’s Journey from Ethiopia to Italy and about the Impressions Made on Him by His Stay in That Country in Tigrinya, by nineteenth-century writer Fesseha Giyorgis, was the first text published in the Tigrinya language (used in present-day Eritrea and Ethiopia). Using this as a guide, Petros undertook the journey from Ethiopia to Italy, his contemporary journey mirroring the historical passage across the Mediterranean Sea as well as the one undertaken by those currently fleeing to safety. When he arrived in Italy, the artist met a group of Eritrean migrants, with whom he made Untitled (2016), a collection of images with these individuals holding mirrors or archive materials in visual dialogue with the surrounding landscape. Viewed together, the photographs offer a metaphor-rich articulation of the fluidity of contemporary transnational experiences and attendant issues of cultural negotiation, speaking to how images and objects enable a sense of belonging or retrieval, both public and private. We acknowledge the generous financial support of the following: Vikky Alexander: Presented in partnership with the Canada Line Public Art Program—IntransitBC Niamh O’Malley: Culture Ireland Greg Staats: The Banff Centre, via a thematic residency program; the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario; and the Canada Council for the Arts/Conseil des arts du Canada Lisa Tan: Iaspis, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual Artists MORE
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    01 Apr, 2017 – 18 Jun, 2017
    Gerard Bryne, ‘Images or shadows of divine things’ (2005 – ongoing). Selenium-toned silver gelatin print. Photograph SITE photography.
  • Vikky Alexander Model Suite [Sliding Door] (2015-17) Until September 24, 2017 Off-site: Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada Line As a contemporary of artists such as Richard Prince, James Welling and Sherrie Levine who were active in New York in the early 1980s, Vikky Alexander is often associated with the Pictures Generation. She is best known for work that foregrounds a strong interest in the histories of architecture, design and fashion, often focusing on locations such as shopping malls, showrooms, and show apartments — sites of desire, aspirations and ideas of home. The images are often complicated through light, reflections and refractions and speak of a set of conditions and values embedded in appearances as seen through furnishings and the notional view from the window (here, a large-scale photo mural). Shown outdoors at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Model Suite (Sliding Door) (2005/17) interplays with its architectural surroundings; the station’s glass pavilion lends a further physical and visual layer as we see the daily activity on the street through the work itself. Presented with Capture Photography Festival Vikky Alexander is one of Vancouver’s most acclaimed artists. Her work has been recognized within Canada and internationally in New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Europe and in the United States. Working as a photographer, sculptor, collagist and installation artist, Alexander is a leading practitioner in the field of photo-conceptualism. Her work is at once both seductive and disruptive; she likes to situate the viewer within idealized spaces that reflect our aspirations and frames our desires within the dynamics of consumption and utopian ideals. Alexander lives in Montreal and is represented by the Trepanier Baer Gallery in Calgary, Alberta, Wilding Cran, Los Angeles and Cooper Cole, Toronto. MORE
    Vikky Alexander, 'Model Suite [Sliding Door]' (2015-17). Photograph SITE photography.
  • Kelly Jazvac Ambient Advertising Until September 10, 2017 Window spaces Ambient Advertising (2016), installed across the CAG’s windows, is a reconfigured work by Toronto-based Kelly Jazvac. Salvaged billboard images are reframed, manipulated and cut through, seemingly in reference to a quintessential Canadian landscape, and visually envelop the gallery at street level. Taken from contemporary advertising, the imagery appeals to our collective sense of identity through reference to the romantic and awesome natural world that surrounds us while questioning the feeding of desire as driven by contemporary consumer culture. Presented with Capture Photography Festival Kelly Jazvac is an artist based in London, Ontario. Recent exhibitions include Rocks Stones and Dust, Art Museum at the University of Toronto; Organic Situation, Koenig and Clinton; An other land, and in the other our own, Prosjekstrom Normann’s, Norway; Human Nature, Carleton University Gallery, Ottawa (2015); Recent Landscapes, Louis B. James Gallery, New York City; Anthropophotogenic, The University of Waterloo Art Gallery (2014); PARK, Oakville Galleries; Impel With Puffs, Diaz Contemporary, Toronto; and More Than Two, The Power Plant, Toronto (2013). She is represented by Louis B. James Gallery, New York. MORE
    Kelly Jazvac, 'Ambient Advertising', 2017. Photograph SITE photography.
  • Sikarnt Skoolisariyaporn July 31 to September 3, 2017 Produced in partnership with the Contemporary Art Gallery, Access Gallery and Burrard Arts Foundation, Sikarnt Skoolisariyaporn, currently based between Bangkok and Düsseldorf, is the eighth and final artist to participate in Twenty-Three Days at Sea, the travelling artist residency originated by Access. Through moving image, performance, text and installation, Skoolisariyaporn’s practice embraces perpetual complexity of space and time. She is interested in contingency of the seascape, a landscape which only reveals itself in the fourth dimension of time, in its constant shifting through wave and wind. The seascape not only suggests an alternative approach to our perception of spatiality, but to the way our formless reality operates. There is perhaps no image that better describes our neoliberal present than a mass of alienated consumer products–at once material and monetary–floating precariously in the middle of the sea. Skoolisariyaporn imagines that as sea levels rise with climate change, the ground of modern reason “floods,” and a new “superstitious liquid state” pours in to take its place. Following her time aboard a container ship to Shanghai in Twenty-Three Days at Sea, Skoolisariyaporn will take up residence at the Burrard Marina Field House Studio, and through a number of programmed events, will explore the state of flux of the sea and transnational mode of production in relation to ‘Cargo Cult’, a cultural phenomenon practiced by indigenous peoples in Melanesia in the wake of their contact with the colonialist West. The work will be presented in an exhibition at Access Gallery opening September 8, 2017. Sikarnt Skoolisariyaporn’s practice involves moving image, performance, text, and installation, and examines notions of human and non-human history embedded in geological spacetime: the history of mankind as remembered by the earth and its landscape. She is particularly interested in the landscape of the sea, because a “seascape” offers the potential to imagine a perpetual landscape that transcends the concept of “space” into “time.” In this way, she suggests, the landscape of the sea suggests a new way to understand and approach history and spatiality. Recent exhibitions and performances include Chongqing Changjiang Contemporary Museum, Chongqing, China; Biquini Wax, Mexico City; Deptford Lounge, London, UK; Kunstakademie Dusseldorf; Gruentaler 9, Berlin; and Five Years Project, London, UK. Skoolisariyaporn lives and works in London and Bangkok. MORE
    Sikarnt Skoolisariyaporn, 'space opera', still from moving image, 2017. Courtesy the artist.
  • Levine Flexhaug A Sublime Vernacular: The Landscape Paintings June 30 to September 24, 2017 B.C. Binning Gallery A Sublime Vernacular: The Landscape Paintings of Levine Flexhaug offers the first overview of the extraordinary career of Levine Flexhaug (1918 – 1974), born in the Treelon area near Climax, Saskatchewan. It brings together approximately 450 of the artist’s paintings as well as several of his mural-sized works. An itinerant painter, he sold thousands of variations of essentially the same landscape painting in national parks, resorts, department stores and bars across western Canada from the late 1930s through the early 1960s. Whatever its variation, a Flexhaug image represents a Western icon, a silent unspoiled Eden that encapsulates the conventions of sublime landscape painting in a kind of painter’s shorthand. For the Contemporary Art Gallery it continues a strand in our programming where we present work by artists who for a variety of reasons, operated outside of the strict mainstream of the art world. Long valued by a core of contemporary artists and collectors, Flexhaug turned formula painting into a source of wonder, not only because he churned out paintings so quickly using an assembly line method but because these works are so aesthetically compelling. Indeed, the lushness, variety, intensity, luminosity, touch and authentic feeling of his paintings are arguably non pareil in this genre. Interestingly, he hit upon the exact image that a poll taken by the Russian artists Komar and Melamid in the 1990s, determined is what Canadians most want to see in art. As engaging as they are aesthetically, Flexhaug’s paintings also offer a point of entry for consideration of significant critical questions ranging from issues of taste, originality versus repetition in art, the appeal of landscape and its iconography – particularly in the Canadian context – to whether art can have integrity as art even if it is unapologetically commercial. Another issue raised by an examination of Flexhaug’s oeuvre is desire. Collecting is by its nature an activity with obsessive tendencies, but the numbers accumulated by those who collect Flexhaugs provide a particular opportunity to analyse aspects of the powerful emotional bonds that exist for many people with art and aesthetic objects. In the case of Flexhaug, more is always more. Painting for Flexhaug was a way to make a living without having a regular job and he took great satisfaction in both supporting his family and satisfying his customers. Tracing his life from his early years in southern Saskatchewan through the byways of his peripatetic career following the Depression also provides a unique perspective from which to consider early modern Western Canadian social history, from aspects of identity to particular forms of consumption and leisure and recreation. Alongside the exhibition, in our reading room we also present Flexie! All the Same and All Different, a feature-length documentary made in association with A Sublime Vernacular: The Landscape Paintings of Levine Flexhaug by Calgary filmmakers Gary Burns and Donna Brunsdale. The film not only tells the story of a little known artist but in its investigation of how people respond to the paintings and what they mean to them, is also a fascinating reflection on both the nature of art and the meaning of place. The exhibition is curated by Nancy Tousley and Peter White. A publication examining Flexhaug’s art and career, the critical issues they raise and the larger social and cultural history they represent accompanies the exhibition. In collaboration with MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina; Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Calgary; Art Gallery of Grande Prairie, Alberta; and Rodman Hall Art Centre, St. Catherines. Exhibition is organized and circulated by the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie with support from the Museums Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage. MORE
    Levine Flexhaug, Untitled (Mountain lake with deer), n.d. Oil-based house paint on beaver board, 24.5 x 35.5 cm. Collection of Greg and Debbie McIntyre, Regina, Saskatchewan
  • Gordon Bennett Be Polite June 30 to September 24, 2017 Alvin Balkind Gallery and Events Room The Contemporary Art Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of largely unseen works on paper by one of Australia’s most visionary and critical artists, Gordon Bennett (1955–2014). Working closely with the Estate of Gordon Bennett and IMA Brisbane the show will comprise a selection of works on paper including drawing, painting, watercolour, poetry, and essays from the early 1990s through to the early 2000s. Though rarely seen in exhibition contexts, Bennett’s drawing and script form the foundation of his practice. Paper is the site where imagery, words and ideas often found their first expression before being combined into the large-scale conceptual paintings for which Bennett is known. Despite their relatively small scale, works in Be Polite embrace rich layers of Western and Australian Indigenous art history and contemporary politics, a direction Bennett played a leading role in developing throughout the 1980s and continued to explore in his successful career. As such the shared colonial histories with Canada and in particular the plight of local First Nations are set in dialogue across continents. Issues, events and histories are given compelling voice in these provocative and often disturbing images. Accompanying the exhibition is a publication featuring contributions by Helen Hughes, Julie Nagam and Ian McLean is published with Sternberg Press. First presented at IMA, Brisbane and subsequently at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts in 2016, the exhibition will evolve and be reconfigured with a new selection of works at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver. This version will then travel to McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton in 2018. Be Polite is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, Australia Council for the Arts, Ministry of Communications and the Arts through Visions of Australia, The Estate of Gordon Bennett, Milani Gallery, and Sutton Gallery. Bennett has been the subject of major solo presentations and retrospectives at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, (touring, Europe), 1999–2000, Griffith University, Brisbane, (touring, Australia), 2004–2005, and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, (touring, Australia), 2007–2009. International recognition and attention for Bennett’s work has been growing with his inclusion in the acclaimed dOCUMENTA (13), in Kassel in 2012, and in the 8th Berlin Biennale in 2014. MORE
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    30 Jun, 2017 – 24 Sep, 2017
    Gordon Bennett. 'Notepad Drawings: Optical: Seeing is Believing', 1995. Watercolour, gouache, ink, and ball point pen on ruled paper 20 x 12.5 cm. Collection: The Estate of Gordon Bennett. Photography: Carl Warner. © The Estate of Gordon Bennett.
  • Andrew Dadson July 11 to 20, 2017 Off-site: 524 West 26th Street Gallery, Chelsea, New York By appointment only. The Contemporary Art Gallery will present a private exhibition in New York by Vancouver-based artist, Andrew Dadson. Comprising a new commission supported by Vancouver contemporary menswear label wings+horns, the exhibition space will be transformed into a large-scale installation. Dadson has consistently engaged with the notion of boundaries in relation to space and time in his work, primarily through investigations with materiality, process and abstraction. Through different mediums – painting, film, and photography – Dadson explores the possibility to cross the perceptual boundaries of space, both physical and natural, and is thus reflected in his work in an attempt to subvert our perception and usual ways of looking at things. The installation will use plant forms and objects sprayed a single colour lit by intense daylight grow lamps. Each light is of a slightly different hue creating multiple shadows on the wall behind and introducing a further dimension to the overall composition. Combined with the large leafy plants, light, shadow and coloured forms produce a painting that evolves and shifts over time. As the organic matter is nurtured over the duration of the exhibition, the unifying painted colour begins to crack and splinter to reveal the fresh natural colours of the leaves beneath. In partnership with wings+horns. Since his first solo exhibition at the Helen Pitt Gallery, Vancouver, in 2003, Andrew Dadson has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Canada and internationally, in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and the United States. Dadson was the 2011 recipient of The Brink Award held at the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle. Dadson is represented by Galleria Franco Noero, Turin, Italy and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, USA. MORE
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    09 Jul, 2017 – 20 Jul, 2017
    Andrew Dadson, 'Black Plants' (detail), 2014. Courtesy the artist.
  • Andrew Dadson October 13, 2017-January 7, 2018 The Contemporary Art Gallery will present the most comprehensive exhibition to date of work by Vancouver-based artist Andrew Dadson. Although receiving great commercial attention and critical acclaim, Dadson has rarely shown in public institutions. Comprising recent and new ambitious large-scale paintings, film and installation, Dadson has consistently engaged with the notion of boundaries in relation to space and time in his work, primarily through investigations with materiality, process and abstraction. His solo exhibition will feature pieces newly made for the exhibition as well as those previously never before exhibited in Canada. Through different mediums – painting, film, and photography – Dadson explores the possibility to cross the perceptual boundaries of space, both physical and natural, and is thus reflected in his work in an attempt to subvert our perception and usual ways of looking at things. In the works on display repeated, reiterated actions, suggest performative actions to form a visual kaleidoscope. Monochromatic paintings, like sculptural elements integrated in their architectural setting, contain colour, which is poured, spread out, layered and scraped towards the edges, almost reaching the limits of the painting space, acquiring an almost organic, material thickness. It appears as tangible evidence of the artist’s action and of the process that led to the creation of the work. The black and white leave glimpses of other colours in filigree, in a cross-reference to the tradition of American abstract painting, from Rothko to Reinhardt, and Pollock to Rauschenberg. The exhibition will also include an installation using plant forms and objects sprayed a single colour lit by intense daylight lamps. As the organic matter grows during the time of the exhibition, the unifying painted colour cracks and splinters to reveal the fresh natural colours beneath. Related to this we will show photographic works from Dadson’s artistic research into painting techniques in relation to those of photography. Using a biodegradable black, the artist has painted parts of the suburban landscape in Vancouver, conveying the desolate immensity of areas still unbuilt in his photographs. The result is a sort of temporary black hole, almost a deletion, and his shots immortalize a precise moment, which is destined to fade away when nature once again prevails over the artist’s action. MORE
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    13 Oct, 2017 – 07 Jan, 2018
    Andrew Dadson, 'Black Plants', 2015. Courtesy the artist.
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Current Exhibitions

The Contemporary Art Gallery welcomes the Feminist Land Art Retreat (FLAR) for the summer. FLAR was born in 2010 with a rock-concert style poster depicting mirrored images of Robert Smithson’s
Spiral Jetty, FLAR transformed this seminal work of land art into something resembling fallopian tubes, while inviting the viewer to a fantasy event. This began FLAR’s conceptual and humorous
subversion of familiar visual forms, including fashion, spa advertising, commemorative architecture, and aerial imagery. FLAR has continued appropriating commercial and art-historical
images with irony, challenging commonly held notions of how feminism is embodied and expressed.

MORE

Feminist Land Art Retreat


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Current Exhibitions

Song of the Open Road
Vikky Alexander, Robert Arndt, Gerard Byrne, Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyn, Kelly Jazvac, Kelly Lycan, Niamh O’Malley, Dawit L. Petros, Greg Staats, Lisa Tan
April 1 to June 18, 2017

B.C. Binning, Alvin Balkind Galleries, Events room, Window Spaces and off-site at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada line
Presented in partnership with Capture Photography Festival

“You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here,
I believe that much unseen is also here.

I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.”
—Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road” (1856)

Taking its title from a poem by Walt Whitman, the Contemporary Art Gallery presents a group exhibition as the central feature of this year’s Capture Photography Festival. Work is presented both inside and outside and across all of the gallery’s spaces, embracing a diverse set of conditions and approaches centred in a conceptual understanding of an expanded field of photographic practice that examines notions of what you see is most definitely not what you get.

Bringing together artists from Canada, Eritrea, Ireland, Sweden, and the US, the exhibition includes works that combine thematically to interrogate ideas rooted in photographic histories, engaging ideas such as veracity, recollection, remembrance, belonging, staging, and how the image documents and records these or is evidence of differing realities.

Key to the exhibition is Images or shadows of divine things (2005–), an ongoing series by Irish artist Gerard Byrne. Visually rich and intellectually complex, the artist’s work in photography, film, theatre, and multiscreen installation examines the slippage between time and the act of image creation. Presented here, a selection of these black-and-white photographs seems to depict a much earlier period, evoking vernacular photographic idioms of American midcentury photography and thus pointing toward the relationship between time, appearance, and the photographic document. Through a collection of over twenty images, a sense emerges that the series has a certain scale of vision. However, it is more about picturing the historical “conditions” of image making than it is about riffing on an aesthetic. That sense of conditions emerges only once the particularity of the given images is surpassed—that is when it becomes obvious that the specifics of the images are not the point, this realization becoming palpable when a sufficient number of them are grouped together.

Robert Arndt’s activities search and reveal the means of accessing culture and history through the mediated forms of books, magazines and the Internet. Made for the exhibition, Remainders, Repeats and Rejects (2017) is characteristic in its investigation of production whereby documentation itself becomes the artwork. Alongside a large-scale photograph of the gallery wall on which it sits atop, Arndt’s work collects and conflates personal imagery with found and staged scenarios, highlighting the notion that documentation may be all that is required for an idea to exist and resonate. We imagine wide ranging connections, invent narratives and recognize links between images, all thoughts set in motion to create a diversity of potential meaning.

Recent work by Canadian artist Kelly Lycan includes installations based on Gallery 291, the iconic New York photography gallery opened by Alfred Stieglitz in 1905. These recreations are developed through sourcing images available online, in an attempt to uncover an understanding or experience of the space while drawing on simulations of the photographic illusion of this. Song of the Open Road features a new version of Nearby Nearby, 291 Burlap Walls (2015), composed of a series of images of the walls of Gallery 291 culled from Internet searches. Printed on paper, the work creates a pixelated arena of varicoloured white grounds, where it is as if each image is forensically being drawn from some depths to emerge on the paper’s surface.

As a contemporary of artists such as Richard Prince, James Welling and Sherrie Levine who were active in New York in the early 1980s, Vikky Alexander is often associated with the Pictures Generation. She is best known for work that foregrounds a strong interest in the histories of architecture, design, and fashion, often focusing on locations such as shopping malls, showrooms, and show apartments—sites of desire, aspirations, and ideas of home. The images are often complicated through light, reflections, and refractions and speak of a set of conditions and values embedded in appearances as seen through furnishings and the notional view from the window (here, a large-scale photo mural). Shown outdoors at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Model Suite (Sliding Door) (2005/17) interplays with its architectural surroundings; the station’s glass pavilion lends a further physical and visual layer as we see the daily activity on the street through the work itself.

Ambient Advertising (2016), installed across the CAG’s windows, is a reconfigured work by Toronto-based Kelly Jazvac. Salvaged billboard images that she has reframed, manipulated and cut through, seemingly in reference to a quintessential Canadian landscape, visually envelop the gallery at street level. Taken from contemporary advertising, the imagery appeals to our collective sense of identity through reference to the romantic and awesome natural world that surrounds us while questioning the feeding of desire as driven by contemporary consumer culture.

Alongside photographic work in a variety of processes, the exhibition also includes moving-image works. Sunsets (2012), by American artist Lisa Tan, combines literature and various historical and personal references to materially explore the intricate relationship between language, image, and experience. The video, filmed on the threshold between night and day, unfolds like a conversation. Seemingly inconsequential things pop up and take hold: a phone call interrupts, the sun starts to set, a stranger asks a question, translations are needed. The work narrates Tan’s engagement with enigmatic writers, with histories, technologies, and geographies that she knows, in order to mediate those that she doesn’t.

Concerned with issues of visibility and the slippage between a moment and an image, Irish artist Niamh O’Malley investigates the construction and arrangement of time and document as revealed through the moving image. Across two large-scale screens, the silent black-and-white video Glasshouse (2014) unfolds as a lengthy tracking shot. As the camera moves seamlessly from left to right along the glass panes, the natural idyll disappears here and there as the glass becomes more or less opaque. Through this O’Malley draws our attention to the process of looking, the camera seemingly attempting to locate and uncover meaning. Yet as images fragment, blocked by stained and broken glass, such efforts are thwarted, challenging our perception of what it is we are actually viewing and of how the images are constructed.

Born in Montreal and currently working in Stockholm, Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn investigates issues of historicity, collectivity, utopian politics, and multiculturalism, often revealing the unnoticed political relevance of seemingly trivial historical anecdotes by shedding light on stories overlooked, hidden, or deemed otherwise insignificant. Seizing Hold of a Memory as It Flashes Up (2010) is a blind embossing using the speech of twelve-year-old Severn Suzuki, daughter of Japanese Canadian science communicator and environmental activist David Suzuki, delivered at the 1992 Earth Summit. Suzuki and members of ECO, the Environmental Children’s Organization, raised the money to travel from Vancouver to Brazil so they could attend the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. Here, Suzuki delivered her speech before 172 representatives of different countries, 108 heads of state, and some 2,400 NGO representatives; 17,000 of the people who attended the parallel NGO Global Forum had consultative status, resulting in a meeting that ultimately led to the Kyoto Protocol.

Toronto-based artist Greg Staats, Kanien’kehá:ka (b. Ohsweken, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory) whose works combine language, mnemonics and the natural world as an ongoing process of conceptualising a Haudenosaunee restorative aesthetic that defines the multiplicity of relationships with trauma and renewal. Staats addresses the systemic deficit of language—through personal and community archives and an intellectual and aesthetic interpretation of the body and ceremony. The installation untitled (objects of reciprocal thinking) (2014) combines both works from the beginning of the artist’s reflection of public and private within a Haudenosaunee linguistic and mnemonic continuum linked to place and recent works based on a reciprocal methodology. When at the edge of one’s condolence and within the liminal metaphysical space prior to renewal, there lies a hesitancy to move forward. While external and internal barriers must be overcome, the process must be completed with the help of others, both as witnesses and holders of the good mind. This ceremonial movement is comparable to moving from the darkness of the forest into the clearing where the light illuminates breath and one’s footing becomes clearer. The Mid-Winter (renewal) ceremony Gaihwayao:ni:, translated as “encouragement,” employs reciprocal gestures and words, repeatable to lifting up the mind after it has dropped down during condolence and/or post-trauma.

Chicago-based Canadian Eritean artist Dawit L. Petros similarly reflects through personal and cultural histories on ideas surrounding place making that are centred on a critical rereading of the relationship between African histories and European modernism. The book About the Author’s Journey from Ethiopia to Italy and about the Impressions Made on Him by His Stay in That Country in Tigrinya, by nineteenth-century writer Fesseha Giyorgis, was the first text published in the Tigrinya language (used in present-day Eritrea and Ethiopia). Using this as a guide, Petros undertook the journey from Ethiopia to Italy, his contemporary journey mirroring the historical passage across the Mediterranean Sea as well as the one undertaken by those currently fleeing to safety. When he arrived in Italy, the artist met a group of Eritrean migrants, with whom he made Untitled (2016), a collection of images with these individuals holding mirrors or archive materials in visual dialogue with the surrounding landscape. Viewed together, the photographs offer a metaphor-rich articulation of the fluidity of contemporary transnational experiences and attendant issues of cultural negotiation, speaking to how images and objects enable a sense of belonging or retrieval, both public and private.

We acknowledge the generous financial support of the following:

Vikky Alexander: Presented in partnership with the Canada Line Public Art Program—IntransitBC
Niamh O’Malley: Culture Ireland
Greg Staats: The Banff Centre, via a thematic residency program; the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario; and the Canada Council for the Arts/Conseil des arts du Canada
Lisa Tan: Iaspis, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual Artists

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Song of the Open Road


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Current Exhibitions

Vikky Alexander
Model Suite [Sliding Door] (2015-17)
Until September 24, 2017

Off-site: Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada Line

As a contemporary of artists such as Richard Prince, James Welling and Sherrie Levine who were active in New York in the early 1980s, Vikky Alexander is often associated with the Pictures Generation. She is best known for work that foregrounds a strong interest in the histories of architecture, design and fashion, often focusing on locations such as shopping malls, showrooms, and show apartments — sites of desire, aspirations and ideas of home. The images are often complicated through light, reflections and refractions and speak of a set of conditions and values embedded in appearances as seen through furnishings and the notional view from the window (here, a large-scale photo mural). Shown outdoors at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Model Suite (Sliding Door) (2005/17) interplays with its architectural surroundings; the station’s glass pavilion lends a further physical and visual layer as we see the daily activity on the street through the work itself.

Presented with Capture Photography Festival

Vikky Alexander is one of Vancouver’s most acclaimed artists. Her work has been recognized within Canada and internationally in New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Europe and in the United States. Working as a photographer, sculptor, collagist and installation artist, Alexander is a leading practitioner in the field of photo-conceptualism. Her work is at once both seductive and disruptive; she likes to situate the viewer within idealized spaces that reflect our aspirations and frames our desires within the dynamics of consumption and utopian ideals.

Alexander lives in Montreal and is represented by the Trepanier Baer Gallery in Calgary, Alberta, Wilding Cran, Los Angeles and Cooper Cole, Toronto.

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Off-site: Vikky Alexander - Model Suite (Sliding Door)


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Current Exhibitions

Kelly Jazvac
Ambient Advertising
Until September 10, 2017

Window spaces

Ambient Advertising (2016), installed across the CAG’s windows, is a reconfigured work by Toronto-based Kelly Jazvac. Salvaged billboard images are reframed, manipulated and cut through, seemingly in reference to a quintessential Canadian landscape, and visually envelop the gallery at street level. Taken from contemporary advertising, the imagery appeals to our collective sense of identity through reference to the romantic and awesome natural world that surrounds us while questioning the feeding of desire as driven by contemporary consumer culture.

Presented with Capture Photography Festival

Kelly Jazvac is an artist based in London, Ontario. Recent exhibitions include Rocks Stones and Dust, Art Museum at the University of Toronto; Organic Situation, Koenig and Clinton; An other land, and in the other our own, Prosjekstrom Normann’s, Norway; Human Nature, Carleton University Gallery, Ottawa (2015); Recent Landscapes, Louis B. James Gallery, New York City; Anthropophotogenic, The University of Waterloo Art Gallery (2014); PARK, Oakville Galleries; Impel With Puffs, Diaz Contemporary, Toronto; and More Than Two, The Power Plant, Toronto (2013). She is represented by Louis B. James Gallery, New York.

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Window spaces: Kelly Jazvac - Ambient Advertising


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Current Events

Nigel Prince
Saturday, June 17, 3pm
Join CAG Director, Nigel Prince for a guided tour of the exhibition Song of the Open Road on its closing weekend.

Taking its title from a poem by Walt Whitman, the Contemporary Art Gallery presents a group exhibition as the central feature of this year’s Capture Photography Festival.

Bringing together ten artists from Canada, Eritrea, Ireland, Sweden and USA, the exhibition presents an expanded field of photographic practice encompassing still, documentary traditions through to digital technologies and moving image, which through black-and-white silver gelatin prints, digital printouts from Internet searches and found archive materials, collectively examine notions of what you see is most definitely not what you get.

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Curatorial tour with Nigel Prince


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Learning Resources

On the last Saturday of each month, CAG invites all ages to drop-in for short family friendly exhibition tours and free art making activities that respond to our current exhibitions. Activities differ in response to the specifics of work on display but always involve hands-on creative activity with a range of materials and processes. These activities are designed to engage, challenge and inspire young, enquiring minds in ways that are imaginative and fun.

Upcoming CAG Family Days:

Saturday, April 29, 12-3pm
Moving Images
Inspired by Kelly Jazvac’s work create an installation by cutting and arranging strips of colourful vinyl.

Saturday, May 27, 12-3pm
Through the Window
Inspired by the work of Niamh O’Malley’s Glasshouse, take photographs through a variety of textured windows to create different light, colour and texture effects.

We acknowledge the generous support of the Peter Szeto Investment Group for our Family Day program.
Presented in collaboration with ArtStarts on Saturdays. For more details visit: www.artstarts.com/weekend

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Family Day Program


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Recent Posts

For some, there may be something vaguely familiar about the giant image that is currently installed in the Contemporary Art Gallery’s windows. What appears as a huge, empty landscape is actually vinyl from a billboard ad for Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” campaign salvaged by Toronto-based artist Kelly Jazvac. Originally measuring over 70 feet, the billboard was intended to promote the photographic abilities of the iPhone 6.

Stretched across the CAG’s facade, Ambient Advertising (2016) provides viewers with the rare opportunity to engage up close with the sheer scale of advertisement through the repurposed vinyl. In Jazvac’s hands, the vinyl has been meticulously sliced and made to fit in the CAG’s windows. The once glossy, enticing surface of the image is interrupted by cuts that allow for a more critical engagement with the vinyl’s texture and movement. What seems at first like a pristine image of a vast landscape becomes troubled by the disposable material it creates and the ironic implications it has for the environment it depicts.

Much of Kelly Jazvac’s work incorporates discarded vinyl into new compositions, reviving thrown-away material and touching on environment concerns like pollution. Her installation and sculptural pieces often have a playfulness to them—check out the cowboy hanging upside down inside the gallery—that encourages us to acknowledge the absurdity in the everyday.
Since the original was released in 2007, the iPhone has had 12 iterations. Which each new iPhone comes a new advertising campaign promising that this phone is better than the last. What Jazvac’s work highlights is how planned obsolescence guarantees more iPhones, more ad campaigns, more vinyl , and more waste.

Ambient Advertising will be up in our windows until September 10th, 2017.

-Michelle Martin

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Song of the Open Road – Kelly Jazvac by Michelle Martin


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