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The gallery is currently closed for the installation of the exhibition:

Isabel Nolan
The weakened eye of day

July 29 to October 2, 2016
Opening: Thursday, July 28, 7-9pm

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a major body of recent work by Irish artist, Isabel Nolan.

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Gallery closed for installation - open on July 28


Isabel Nolan
The weakened eye of day
July 29 to October 2, 2016
B.C. Binning and Alvin Balkind Galleries

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a major new body of work by Irish artist Isabel Nolan, conceived as a single project across successive evolving presentations at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Mercer Union, Toronto and CAG.

Nolan’s work encompasses text, sculpture, drawing and textiles, and often begins with the close scrutiny of individual literary or artistic works, or evolves out of consciously erratic and diverging enquiries into the aesthetics of varied fields. Ranging from cosmology, to theories and systems of medicine detailing the makeup and workings of the human body or to illuminated manuscripts, all provide potential stimuli for investigation. The exhibition takes its title from the English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy’s The Darkling Thrush (1899), in which the sun, described as “the weakening eye of day”, is a dismal star drained of its force by a gloomy pre-centennial winter afternoon. As the sun’s gaze weakens, so flags the spirit of the poet who, until interrupted by birdsong, sees only the inevitability of death in the cold world around him. The show thereby examines how light manifests as a symbol in our thoughts, obsessions and pursuits, and oscillates around a series of ideas as a material account of the known and unknown strangeness of the world, from the formation of the planet’s crust to the death of the sun and the enduring preoccupation with light as a metaphor for truth, hope and optimism.

Writing is an important tool for Nolan, and at the beginning of the show, a single sculptural form appears perhaps as the protagonist of an improbable story. Rock founded place (2014) is a large-scale scrolled text written by Nolan that imagines the viewpoint of the oldest rock in the world, whose exposure to deep time and the precariousness of existence is profoundly different to our own. In this world, time, knowledge and forms of life are recognizable yet play utterly different histories and roles than in our own civilization.

Throughout the exhibition, individual pieces unfold to both seduce and disarm. Nolan uses this as a device to cause us reflection upon our relationship to light as a means by which the world is framed. She provides opportunities to reveal the contingency not only of our own world, but also of our myriad ways of knowing and being in it. Underpinning this is a desire to examine and capture in material form the occasions of intensity that can define our encounters with the objects around us; inexplicable and unsettling moments that leave us with a heightened awareness of what is means to be alive. For the artist this exploration happens through making things; whether these things are sculptures, textiles, photographs or texts. Monumental or intimate in scale, they are presented to us as tentative and precarious markers of the experience of our place beneath the sun.

Across all spaces at CAG, discrete works trace a progression reflective of different human attempts to understand our place in the universe. From Rock founded place we might move to consider a small-scale abstract painting such as Dreams of no thing, no time (2014), the enigmatically diagrammatic steel construction Somewhere between Andromeda and Vulpecula: Sky Atlas (2014) or Fourfold sorrows (Jesus you look so sad) (2015), an impressive woven carpet connecting wall to floor. Contemplating these and other pieces such as the collection of brightly coloured ceramic vessels, Nothing new under the sun (2014), all combine to reflect Nolan’s interest in the way colour and light are used to express religious or spiritual sensibilities. Elsewhere, the intimate drawings Based on my recent observations (1–7) (2014) and the large-scale photograph The view from nowhen (2014) are informed by modern cosmology, wherein scientific theories and technologies articulate our contemporary relationship to the universe. And as we meander through the space of the gallery, we are finally confronted by what at first appears a somewhat surreal image, this mural of two donkeys photographed in Bully’s Acre, a former public cemetery located near the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin. Referred to in myth and folklore from around the world as well as embodying different symbolic references in classical and ancient cultures and across different faiths, these donkeys provide a provocation that cannot be met: a stubborn and inscrutable view from a world that can never be fully known.

As with all of Nolan’s oeuvre, the works in The weakened eye of day reveal, through their very subjective and intimate nature, the arbitrariness and inherent absurdity of attempting to tackle the enormity of these subjects through the process of object making. Yet the objects are made and for Nolan they also find, with varying degrees of (un)certainty, their place under the sun.

Originated by the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, this new selection of work for the exhibition is presented in collaboration with Mercer Union, Toronto and Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver.

The exhibition is supported by the Culture Ireland programme for 2016 celebrating Ireland’s Centenary.

We also acknowledge the generous assistance of Kerlin Gallery, Dublin.

Isabel Nolan lives and works in Dublin, Ireland. Recent solo exhibitions include Mercer Union, Toronto (2016); Launch Pad, New York; Kerlin Gallery, Dublin (2015); Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2014); The Return Gallery, Goethe Institut, Dublin; Musée d’art Moderne de Saint-Etienne (2012); The Model, Sligo (2011); Gallery Side 2, Tokyo (2010); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin; ARTSPACE, New Zealand (2008); Project Arts Centre, Dublin (2005). Nolan represented Ireland at the 2005 Venice Biennale in a group exhibition, “Ireland at Venice 2005”. Other recent group shows include Lofoten International Arts Festival (LIAF), Svolvær, Norway; Artspace, Sydney (2015); Wallspace Gallery, New York (2014); Palais de Tokyo, Paris; David Nolan Gallery, New York; Villa Datris, Fondation pour la Sculpture Contemporain, France; Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork (2013); EVA International, Limerick (2012); Stephen Friedman Gallery, London;  Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh (2011); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2010); Accademia d’Ungheria, Rome; The Daejeon Museum of Art, South Korea; Bielefelder Kunstverein, Germany; Limerick City Gallery of Art, Ireland; AkkuH, Hengelo, The Netherlands; Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris; Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown, Northern Ireland; SMART Project Space, Amsterdam (2009); Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Stroom Den Haag (2007). Work is held in public collections of the Irish Museum of Modern Art; The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin; Allied Irish Bank; Arts Council of Ireland; Kildare Co. Council and various private collections in Europe and USA. Nolan is represented by Kerlin Gallery, Dublin.

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Isabel Nolan - The weakened eye of day


Sameer Farooq and Mirjam Linschooten
September 10, 2016 to January 8, 2017
Window spaces

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents an ambitious new multi-venue commission by collaborators Dutch artist Mirjam Linschooten and Canadian artist Sameer Farooq, interrogating the ways in which cultural diversity is narrated and represented. Working together for over a decade, the duo’s interdisciplinary practice creates community-based models of participation in order to reimagine a material record of the present. Utilizing installation, photography, design and writing, they investigate the tactics and methods of anthropology to examine various forms of collecting, interpretation and display. The result is work that reveals how institutions speak about our lives, evoking an archeology of the present often existing beyond the framework of the gallery. Their expansive projects develop intricate, speculative archives repurposing found objects and language to expose ruptures within cultural representation, questioning the invisibility of the archivist and interrogating the inherent value bias in collecting.

Over the past year Farooq and Linschooten have undertaken a series of cumulative research trips via the Burrard Marina Field House Studio Residency Program toward the development of installations at CAG, the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station and the Museum of Anthropology (MOA). Core to the various commissions are participatory workshops led by the artists with the Native Youth Program (NYP) at MOA, a program for Indigenous youth from Greater Vancouver where students engage in various aspects of working within a museum context, leading public tours, completing research projects and participating in presentations. Farooq and Linschooten invited NYP participants to consider their personal narratives in relation to the anthropological museum’s displays, identifying key elements for examination in the Multiversity Galleries. Throughout the histories of colonialism and capitalism innumerable cultural objects have entered museum collections around the world detached from the communities and physical bodies they belong to. Ripped from context and trapped behind glass, rearranged and discombobulated, the cultural authenticity, specificity and vitality of these objects are dismembered into taxonomies of otherness. Within the window spaces at CAG, Farooq and Linschooten consider such acts of ethnographic curation. Reflecting tensions between local communities and their representation in museums, Farooq and Linschooten focus on ongoing cultural forms that persist in contemporary culture. Replicating, yet also subverting, the supposed objective aesthetic of museum vitrines, Farooq and Linschooten have installed a collection of mass-produced cultural objects purchased from shops across the lower mainland, notionally representative of Vancouver’s largest immigrant communities. Display mechanisms such as shelves, hooks and bars are used to disrupt and unsettle the objects, disturbing the meticulous arrangement and suggestive of the uneasy relations between the conserved and custodian, artifact and everyday object, revealing the unintended violence of display.

At Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Farooq and Linschooten repurpose found language from a local souvenir shop highlighting the active commodification of culture. During their time in Vancouver the artists discovered Hudson House Trading Company, a typical tourist store in Gastown selling a plethora of Canadian ‘knick-knacks’ that capitalize on perceptions of Vancouver’s identity via a collection of cultural reproductions for sale. Through the simple act of reproducing the language of the store’s inventory list and applying the names of a selection of items directly onto the station windows, the Canada Line façade operates like an advert exaggerating the wholesale co-opting of culture as currency.

The re-appropriation of found images, objects and language developed into public installations both exaggerate and subvert the ethnographic strategies of representation and implicate such practices into a larger system of commodification utilized to propagate cultural hierarchy, difference and discrimination.

Projects are generously supported by the BC Arts Council Innovations Program, the Mondriaan Fund and the Hamber Foundation. Farooq and Linschooten’s collaboration with the Native Youth Program is developed in collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology. The project at Yaletown- Roundhouse Station is presented in partnership with the Canada Line Public Art Program — IntransitBC.

The interdisciplinary practice of Sameer Farooq (Canada) and Mirjam Linschooten (Netherlands) can be situated as an expanded documentary practice, presenting counterarchives, new additions to museum collections or making buried histories visible. Their work has been exhibited in various countries, including: Belgium, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey. Recent projects include The Figure in the Carpet, Blackwood Gallery, Toronto (2015); Faux Guide, Trankat, Morocco (2014); The Museum of Found Objects, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2011); The Museum of Found Objects, Sanat Limani, Istanbul (2010) and Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, Artellewa, Cairo (2014).

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Sameer Farooq and Mirjam Linschooten


Window Spaces

Wrapping around the gallery building, the new commission Some words, some more words (2016) by British artist duo John Wood and Paul Harrison, continues their ongoing investigation into the world that surrounds us, the objects we encounter and use daily, and our fundamental engagement with the physical universe in all its sometime or seemingly futile existence. Characteristically playful, phrases are deliberately juxtaposed and positioned against each other to create a fragmentary narrative, drawing our attention to the familiar made strange by altering perceptions of the surrounding architecture and revealing the what and how of how we read language.

John Wood and Paul Harrison live and work in Bristol, UK. Notable solo exhibitions include Von Bartha, Basel; NTT InterCommunication Center, Tokyo; Carroll/Fletcher, London (2015); Museo de Antioquia, Medellin, Columbia (2014); Frist Centre, Nashville, H&R Block Artspace, Kansas and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (2011-12); Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland; University of California, Santa Barbara (2010); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2009); PICA, Perth (2008); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2007); Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK (2005); Tate Britain, London; MoMA, New York; MIT, Boston (2004) and Chisenhale Gallery, London (2002).

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John Wood and Paul Harrison - Some words, some more words


Jérôme Havre
Untitled (2010)
April 15 to August 31, 2016
Off-site: Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada Line

This exhibition is part of Capture Photography Festival.

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a new commission by Jérôme Havre, the artist’s first project in Vancouver. Originally from France, Havre’s work considers representation, circulation, transmission and translation of black identities, interrogating racialized stereotypes and ideologies projected onto bodies.

Drawing directly onto a found family portrait, Untitled (2010) is a blunt gesture. The image depicts a family posed against a vintage car in a tropical landscape, its warm hues of analog colour giving entry to a past generation. Havre disrupts the scene, scrawling doodles of mask-like forms in white-out directly on to each family member’s face, erasing identity and subjectivity, reforming these physical bodies as alien figures.
Masks are objects held in high esteem in western culture. Through centuries of colonial violence and capitalist extraction these specific objects sit in private and museum collections around the world detached from the action, ritual, communities and physical bodies that they were made for. Disembodied heads without voice, these masked bodies are “stilled,” re-contextualized as stand-ins to represent otherness, here a reflection on western perceptions of blackness.

Jérôme Havre lives and works in Toronto having completed his studies at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Since 2001 he has exhibited in Europe, Africa and North America, including most recently Talking Back, Otherwise, Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto; Paradis: La fabrique de l’image, 14N 61W, Martinique; Land Marks, Peterborough Art Gallery, all in 2015. Havre is currently artist in residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

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Jérôme Havre - Untitled


Montreal-based, Kanien’keha:ka artist Skawennati joins us for the first phase of her Field House Residency.

In collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology, Emily Carr University of Art + Design and the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF), a branch of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), she will be leading an intensive workshop called Skins participating in MOA’s Native Youth Program.

Skins will involve six Indigenous youth currently participating in the Native Youth Program, part of an ongoing relationship between CAG and MOA. Hosted at ECUAD, the workshop will begin with an exploration of storytelling as oral tradition folding into how stories can be told in new ways through ‘machinima’ (a portmanteau of “machine” and “cinema”). Using Second Life, an online virtual environment, participants will learn script development and storyboarding, avatar/character creation, virtual set design, filming and editing in a virtual world.  Skins aims to expand Indigenous presence online, provide new design skills and impart understanding of narrative structures while also questioning notions of identity and stereotype. The Skins workshop aims to empower Indigenous youth to use new technologies to tell their stories.

She will also begin work toward a new commission to be realized in 2017.

Skawennati is known for her pioneering new media projects that address history, the future and change. They include the on-line gallery/chat-space and mixed-reality event CyberPowWow (1997–2004); a paper doll/ time-travel journal Imagining Indians in the 25th Century (2001); and TimeTraveller™ (2008–2013), a multi-platform project featuring nine machinima episodes. Born in Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, Skawennati is Co-Director with Jason E. Lewis of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), a research network of artists, academics and technologists investigating, creating and critiquing indigenous virtual environments. This year, AbTeC launched IIF, the Initiative for Indigenous Futures.

This project was made possible through the support of the BC Arts Council’s Youth Engagement grant.

The Field House Studio Residency Program is generously supported by Vancouver Park Board and the City of Vancouver, along with many private and individual donors. For 2016–2019 we acknowledge the generous support for the Field House Studio Residency Program by the Vancouver Foundation.

For further details about the program, all forthcoming residencies and associated events visit our website at www.contemporaryartgallery.ca and follow the blog at www.burrardmarinafieldhouse.wordpress.com

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Burrard Marina Field House Studio - Skawennati


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