This was the first exhibition in Canada of work by British artist Robert Orchardson. Inspired by science fiction films and the work of architects and designers who engage with ways of thinking about the future, Orchardson is all too aware of the inherent paradox in visualizing the unknown, any attempt immediately foiled as it becomes instantly familiar. In setting out to imagine ‘things to come’, such endeavours unavoidably speak to us of the here and now. For Orchardson, his artistic proposition compels us to reassess utopias of the past, this revisiting however more than a mere act of longing. Instead it implies a restaging of unfulfilled possibilities as he grapples with fresh meaning and opportunity.
Approached through a triangular opening at the CAG, the wall construction pervaded the whole gallery, reinforcing the deliberate sense of entering another world. Against this, the series of coloured objects resemble the amorphous motifs that feature in paintings by surrealist artist Yves Tanguy. The result was an environment that speaks of competing implications of potential and redundancy; abstraction versus figuration; the immediate present as opposed to somewhere else.MORE
The Contemporary Art Gallery presented the exhibition Endless Renovation an evolving installation by Corin Sworn, which combined found objects and texts, light and shadows, storytelling and speculation. With this work, Sworn transformed the Alvin Balkind Gallery into a set animated by audio and images.MORE
To create is to relate was the first exhibition in Canada of the influential work of Sister Corita Kent who came to fame for her silkscreen prints while teaching at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles in the 1960s. The exhibition developed in association with the Corita Art Center, Los Angeles and MOCFA, San Francisco focuses on Corita’s work from this period when we see the rapid visual move from a muted palette to one where figurative style is replaced by an increasing use of large areas of intense abstract colour. Mixing advertising slogans and poetry in her silkscreens and commandeering nuns and students to help make ambitious installations, processions and banners, Corita’s work is now recognized as some of the most striking – and joyful – American art of the 60s. The exhibition also shows a shift in the manner Corita brings words into her compositions often fragmented whereby they become image. The size of the serigraphs also increases and for Corita the absorption of the burgeoning media signage, commercial systems and slogans she saw play an important role in the development of her work. She embraced the urban environment, the commonplace becoming far from empty wasteland, rather a vehicle for hope and rejoicing. In someday is now (1964) for example, the partial block letters clearly derive from SAFEWAY supermarkets; somebody had to break the rules (1967) has the phrase jumbled but taken from a laundry detergent of the day.
Corita’s work and its community engagement marked a decade of utopian thinking but were rooted in the belief that direct action can cause real change. As such she asserts the continuum between daily life and art through her work, and challenges our expectations of what and how we encounter art. This lack of division between form and activity makes for a compelling argument against the notion of detached art experience both for artists and the audience. In this way, it chimes with the Contemporary Art Gallery in our belief that art and its conventions should not be divorced from our everyday experience and have meaning to everyone.MORE
The CAG presented the first exhibition in North America devoted entirely to the vignettes of British wood engraver, artist and naturalist Thomas Bewick. Born in Cherryburn, near Mickley, Northumberland in 1753, Bewick worked in Newcastle until his death in 1828. Clearly influenced by his childhood on a small farm on the banks of the river Tyne, Bewick’s love of the countryside is reflected in his detailed woodcuts of animals, birds and rural scenes. Amongst his most ambitious projects were illustrations for General History of Quadrupeds (1790) and History of British Birds (two volumes, 1797 and 1804), both of which also included a great number of vignettes. Bewick referred to these as ‘tale-pieces’. Intended as illustrations of “some truth or point of some moral” they provide an invaluable insight into social history while also demonstrating the artist’s imagination and wit. As such these narrative works provided an interesting counterpoint to the work of many internationally established artists in Vancouver, engaging in image making which critically examines and reflects on the city and conditions which surround them. The presentation of historical work is intended to challenge our understanding of what a contemporary art space should show and as such reinforces the notion that everything was once contemporary, retaining meaning for future generations, just as much as what is contemporary now will inevitably become historical.MORE
Federico Herrero is well-known as an abstract painter who uses unconventional locations and surfaces as a context for his large scale graphic murals. While Herrero at times works inside galleries, he often works with difficult sites whether it is the horizontal expanse of an exposed rooftop or the narrow corner of the custodian’s closet. His work, through form, colour and context directly addresses the division between art and social life, attempting to build a bridge between art as a specialized commodity and its larger place in the community. To address these concerns and extending our exhibition programme into the streets, the Contemporary Art Gallery commissioned Herrero to design a mural for our windows, using his formal vocabulary as a visual membrane, bringing our presence directly into the city. Also working with Autobox Media, the CAG designed a program, using Layar Reality Browser to create a virtual mural to be applied on selected sites throughout Vancouver. The artwork is accessible through any smartphone. Please go to http://offsite.contemporaryartgallery.ca for full details.MORE
A Way To Go was the first part of the “GPS PROJECT” generated through the Education Program of Contemporary Art Gallery.
The word “Alley” comes from the original French root word “Allée” which literally translates as; A Way To Go. This was a walking journey project that consisted of using the GPS mobile device to navigate an alternative route through the downtown core by only taking alleyways and shortcuts. The passage was less distracting than crowded streets and avoided being a target for consumers by staying off the main roads. These routes are named after brief encounters with objects and/or subjects found in each individual alleyway rather than being named after important political figures or national historical references like most main roads in Vancouver. The names of the alley were included in the GPS map application. Through this journey, the participants came across site-specific installations, images activated by the GPS device, video clips and information about hidden spaces in the back alley.
Examples of this were images taken from inside an abandoned Japanese Auto Centre that has no access to the general public. Also an installation that was installed behind the fenced up corner in an underground parking lot to prevent homeless over-night staying, another example were details about a recycled water container underneath the Emery Barnes Park. This project continued to unfold describing more hidden objects/subjects in the allies of Vancouver’s downtown core over the following 3 months.
This program is generously supported by TELUS, 2010 Legacies Now and the Canadian Art Foundation. With thanks to Hannah Hughes and Autobox.MORE
In 2011 the Contemporary Art Gallery presented Flesh and Blood, a major touring exhibition of recent work by Canadian artist Shary Boyle. The exhibition, curated by Louise Déry, director of the Galerie de l’UQAM, was launched at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, travelled to the Galerie de l’UQAM, in Montreal and then to its final presentation in Vancouver. The installation at the Contemporary Art Gallery featured three new works by Boyle exclusive to Vancouver.
Flesh and Blood reflected the artist’s vision and versatility and included drawing, painting and porcelains, creating an installation that drew upon ancient mythology, fiction and fantasy in an exploration of psychological and emotional conditions.
A number of characteristics are key to understanding Boyle’s work: stylistic contract and ornamental excess, the mechanisms of seduction, an evocation of a weird, theatricality of subject and manifestation of social politics. Her examinations of scenes and subject matter associated with childhood and adolescence, in turn reference surrealist landscapes, fairytales, cartoons and illustrated novels that recall fantastic worlds or prophetic futures.MORE
For American artist Sharon Hayes’ first solo exhibition in Canada, the CAG presented In the Near Future (2005-2008) her multifaceted and dynamic installation, incorporating 13 slide projectors and nearly 250 different images. The numerous images were gathered from audience members over four years as part of performances Hayes staged in six cities.
Hayes invited onlookers to document her enactment of 13 lone protests. In select public sites she picketed with placards bearing anachronistic and ambiguous slogans. Some she made up, altered or directly appropriated from bygone protests, such as, “Who approved the war in Vietnam?” is a phrase originally used in 1962 at the Charter Day Protest at the University of California and “I am a Man” a slogan taken from the civil rights movement during the Memphis Sanitation strike in 1968. Each performance is a paring down of the basic strategies of street protest – the way text, body, and place and time go together to define a subject and create a common language. Hayes’ discursive and aesthetic investigation in the history of protest chimes directly with the recent success of mass protests in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen, and the worldwide support for the Libyan revolt.MORE
For their first solo exhibition in Canada, the CAG presented Beyond Guilt – The Trilogy (2003-2005) a collaborative video series by Israeli artists Ruti Sela and Maayan Amir.
The work’s currency rests in its daring and mischievous blend of sex and politics and its jumbling of subject and author. The trilogy begins with Beyond Guilt #1 shot in the bathrooms of night clubs in Tel Aviv where the artists record themselves negotiating sexual encounters. In Beyond Guilt #2, through an online chat room, the artists invited men to a hotel room where discussions of sexual preferences lead to talk of experiences in the army and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And in the final video, they invited a sex worker to a hotel room, gave her their camera and asked her to document their meeting.
In all three, Sela and Amir are instigators on and off camera, acting as provocateurs as well as ready and willing participants. Beyond Guilt – The Trilogy is at times difficult to watch. The artists create risky scenarios by negotiating sex inpublic places and inviting strangers into their hotel room. Yet, Sela and Amir have managed to anaesthetize situations that are out of the ordinary, filled with unknowns and potential risk. They capture a banality within the sensational, neutering much of the provocation. Sela and Amir’s conflation of sex and war isn’t what one would expect – a depiction of spectacle and drama. It is of the everyday and seems to represent a possible tactic for coping with life in Tel Aviv. In a nation continually at war, surrounded by violence, this seems most viable.MORE
Roy Arden is well known for his austere photographs of Vancouver’s cityscape. His solo exhibition at the Contemporary Art Gallery shed light on the other aspect of his practice which is centred on found images, collage and the archive. Entitled UNDERTHESUN, the exhibition commanded all three of the Contemporary Art Gallery’s exhibition spaces, including its two galleries and the windows vitrines and a pictorial artist’s publication was produced. The exhibition included works in multiple media including; drawing, painting, collage and digital collage, video and sculpture.
Whether in his online work, artist’s blog and digital collage or his intimate handmade collages, Arden ‘s incessant digging through the image archive always seems focused on finding the root causes for our present condition. Arden’s subject as always is history and specifically, modernity. His recent adventure with multiple media seems like a search for new diagnostic tools that can offer him insights that could not be revealed through photography alone.MORE
Although McIntosh is primarily known for her painting, she also works in collage. Violet’s Hair, for the first time brought together her work in these two distinct mediums. As well as exhibiting five recent paintings in the B.C. Binning Gallery, she built two large-format collages: one wrapped the exterior of the gallery, using the window vitrines, and the other filled the Alvin Balkind Gallery in a unified form. This was not the first time McIntosh worked with collage on this scale, but it was the first instance she built a structure as the ground.
Her collages and paintings carry a similar language, one of solid planes, layered forms and bold colours. They inform each other, running in tandem, offering a visible language that simultaneously exemplify the flexibility with which McIntosh handles many possible choices and the solidity of her final decisions.MORE
We wish to extend a sincere and heartfelt thank you to everyone for their generous support of the Contemporary Art Gallery’s 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Auction this past Saturday night at the new Rosewood Hotel Georgia.
This was the 23rd edition of the event and in our 40th year we are exceptionally grateful for the overwhelming support from members, friends, supporters and artists, locally, nationally and internationally. We had forty nine exceptional works this year and the nod to our founding year of 1971 created a fun evening that raised an amount in excess of $230,000 (the most the CAG has ever raised at any fundraising event to date) THANK YOU!
It was a fantastic evening full of great artwork, fabulously dressed guests, a blasting birthday guitar solo by artist Kevin Schmidt and birthday cake delivery and dance routine by sequin bedazzled artist Germaine Koh and the roller derby girls, the Faster Pussycats. Each lucky guest also received a beautiful handmade sculpture by artist Natalie Purchswitz as their take home gift. The evening directly supports the programme at the Contemporary Art Gallery as we grow in scope and ambition, and allows us to continue our crucial role, since 1971, as the longest standing free public art gallery dedicated exclusively to presenting contemporary visual art in Vancouver.
The CAG is honoured to continue this role and with Nigel Prince, our new Executive Director, we look forward to an expansion and diversification in our programming, striving to introduce new audiences, increasing accessibility and supporting visitors in their interaction with and interpretation of contemporary art. With this unequivocally successful evening we can proudly move forward in presenting the very best in contemporary visual art from Vancouver, Canada and abroad.
Thank you again to the artists, guests, members, volunteers Board and staff who made this special evening a memorable and successful one. We can’t wait to see you next year at further events and benefits for the CAG.MORE
The CAG has launched a new website to announce our Annual Gala and Art Auction, www.cagauction.com.
This year’s event will be held at the NEW Rosewood Hotel Georgia on Saturday, November 5th at 6.30pm.
The website showcases the artists and the exceptional works they have generously donated in honour of our 40th year.
Some of the artists include Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace, Dexter Sinister, FASTWÜRMS, Germaine Koh and Hadley + Maxwell, just to name a few.
The evening is an important benefit event for the CAG which allows the CAG to continue its crucial role as the only FREE independent public art gallery dedicated exclusively to presenting the very best in contemporary art from Vancouver, Canada and abroad.
Tickets are on sale now and selling quickly!
Thank you for your generous support and we hope to see you there!MORE