April 4 – June 1, 2008
This solo exhibition presented works from 1997 to 2006 in paint, film and photography by Vancouver artist Stephen Waddell. Waddell began his career as a painter but eventually came to concentrate on photography. Studying at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia, he moved to Berlin in 1998 but now maintains a studio in Vancouver and spends time living and working in both cities. Waddell’s early paintings focused on anonymous urban spaces, these were usually unpopulated, lonely scenes that seemed like memories of experiences of derealisation. He used the camera to make studies for his paintings and these snapshots and polaroids led him to take up photography full-time. Waddell also made super 8 film studies of urban pedestrians that paved the way for his tableau-scaled photos of solitary figures for which he has become known. These photos are largely unposed studies of strangers caught at work, in transit or at leisure that reinvent the Impressionist project of ‘the painting of modern life’. Like other painters turned photographer, Waddell’s indifference toward criteria established within a strictly photographic tradition permitted him to breathe new life and purpose into the medium. His works are better understood as pictures than photographs in that they draw as much from the history of painting as the history of photography.