For our fifth presentation at The Art Show, 303 Gallery is pleased to exhibit the work of Rodney Graham.
Throughout his oeuvre, Rodney Graham presents layered narratives rife with cultural and historical references. His films and photographs often center on the artist assuming a fictional persona, thoroughly costumed yet still recognizable in his turns as a lighthouse keeper, a punk, a castaway, a cowboy. Graham also crafts elaborately detailed sets and props, expanding upon his characters and building their backstories.
Our presentation will focus on Graham’s photographic lightbox triptych 'Antiquarian Sleeping in his Shop', 2017. Inspired by antique stores in his native Vancouver, Graham plays the part of the shopkeep, adopting the typically bohemian attire and lackadaisical approach of his subject. Surrounded by his wares, the Antiquarian projects the unspecific knowledge of a dime-store curator, with pseudo-scientific instruments and specimens, ethnic totems of spurious origin, books, paintings, and other assorted objets d’art. Graham portrays the Antiquarian asleep with an open book on his lap, a delicious distillation of the learned dilettante role he inhabits. While the Antiquarian’s poetic soul may have yearned for a more glamorous artistic life, he has settled for his life peddling the contents of his own man cave, comfortably trapped in a feedback loop of his own design. Still, the Antiquarian’s endearing point of view endures, as the contents of the shop do seem to add up to more than the sum of their parts. The viewer of Graham’s work in this case also plays a role, that of the visitor to the antique store, with a perfect opportunity to pick through the threads of the Antiquarian’s own internal logic as he dozes on his perfectly restored Victorian sofa.