The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a major solo exhibition of early work by American artist James Welling.
Welling emerged as a seminal figure in the “Pictures Generation”, an influential group of artists including Sherrie Levine, Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince. Working in New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s, they were acclaimed for their pioneering use of photography and for opening up a new set of questions about art and the nature of representation. This exhibition, and the publication that accompanies it, are titled The Mind on Fire to evoke a febrile moment of energy, thought and production from that time.
Throughout the period of The Mind on Fire, painting remained a resource to Welling; his interest in scale, surface, materiality, tactility and process evolved directly from his engagement with small paintings that preceded his photographic work. These qualities came to the fore in the solo exhibitions at Metro Pictures and Cash/Newhouse in New York in 1981, 1982 and 1985, and in theAluminum Foils, Drapes, High Contrast, Gelatin and Tile Photographs. Now seen as major works, minutely crumpled aluminium foil evokes starry skies or lunar landscapes; luxurious drapes sprinkled with dough suggest snow-capped mountain ridges. By focusing on simple, repetitive motifs Welling sought to remove photography from its subject, in order to trigger personal associations in the viewer and to explore how we see, rather than what we see. These works were frequently contact-printed to gain what Welling described as “a facsimile effect,” involving no enlargement from the negative. As Welling stated at the time, “the (small) image convinces me of its truth in a way larger images cannot.”
The exhibition and publication, Mind on Fire, brings together around one hundred of Welling’s early, experimental and abstract works from this period, statements which surround the mechanical and philosophical parameters of photography, being tested through a variety of photographic paper, film, cameras; materials in flux and subject to a myriad of simultaneous meanings.
This exhibition has been developed in partnership between MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK and Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea — CGAC, Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Special thanks also to David Zwirner, New York; Maureen Paley, London; Galeria Marta Cervera, Madrid; Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Galerie Nelson-Freeman, Paris.
We acknowledge the generous support of the U .S. Consulate General Vancouver and Capture Photography Festival.
CAG Curator, Jenifer Papararo gives a tour of current exhibitions.
Guided visits are open to the public, providing free opportunities to engage with exhibitions and develop new skills for interpreting contemporary art. We also encourage visits from primary and secondary schools, ESL groups, university and college students and community groups. For more information or to book a guided visit for your group, contact email@example.com or telephone 604 681 2700.MORE
In-conversation: James Welling and Dominic McIver Lopes
Wednesday, November 13, 7pm
Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Room 301, 1399 Johnston Street, Granville Island
Dominic McIver Lopes, Professor in the Department of Philosophy at UBC, and President of the American Society for Aesthetics, joins artist James Welling for a public conversation considering Welling’s practice.MORE
Please join us to celebrate the opening of exhibitions by James Welling and Meriç Algün Ringborg, Thursday November 14, 7-10 pm.
The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a major solo exhibition of early work by American artist James Welling. Welling emerged as a seminal figure in the “Pictures Generation”, an influential group of artists including Sherrie Levine, Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince. Working in New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s, they were acclaimed for their pioneering use of photography and for opening up a new set of questions about art and the nature of representation. This exhibition, and the publication that accompanies it, are titled The Mind on Fire to evoke a febrile time of energy, thought and production from that period.
At the Contemporary Art Gallery we present a solo exhibition by Turkish artist Meriç Algün Ringborg, her first in a museum in North America, comprising a new large-scale commission sited across the façade of our building. Visitors are invited to ‘read’ the gallery, the work wrapping around the outside as individual phrases envelope the physical structure.
Lauded by photographers, artists and critics for his influence on the contemporary generation of art photographers, James Welling has created beautiful and uncompromising photographs for over thirty-five years. James Welling: Monograph offers an indispensible resource for those who are interested in this artist's remarkable, foundational practice. Published to accompany James Welling: Monograph, a traveling exhibition organized by the Cincinnati Art Museum and curated by James Crump, this large-scale catalogue presents over 250 images, including important early and iconic works from the 1970's to the present and provides the most thorough presentation of the artist's work to date. Among an extensive introductory essay by James Crump, this monograph also includes text contributions by Mark Godfrey and Thomas Seelig, and an interview by Eva Respini, Associate Curator in the Department of Photography at the MoMA.MORE
This limited edition print was produced on the occasion of James Welling: The Mind on Fire, at the Contemporary Art Gallery, November 15, 2013 to January 12, 2014.
2 29 II, 1980
Inkjet Print (Epson 3880 on Museo Silver Rag paper)
Edition of 62 with 12 APs