This spring and summer, three Vancouver galleries join forces with exhibitions that celebrate renowned Vancouver artist Rodney Graham. Internationally known for his humour and deep engagement with exploring ideas about art in our era of mass communication, Graham works in several media—film, video, photography, sound, text, sculpture, installation and painting—to reflect his ongoing concerns that are part autobiography, part detective novel, part psychoanalysis and part philosophy of consciousness.
The idea of a series of exhibitions was initiated by Rennie Collection, which holds a substantial body of Graham’s work. The exhibition at Rennie Collection at Wing Sang, Rodney Graham: Collected Works (May 31-October 4), will feature works by Graham that question the role of the artist by inverting the status of amateur and professional. The result is a powerful readjustment of how we receive modern art history as Graham provides the tools to liberate forms ossified by authoritarianism so they can be energized anew. Dating from the late 1980s onward, many of the pieces presented are making Canadian debuts. From light boxes to video, paintings to installations, the spectrum of work exhibited highlights Graham’s considerable and varied inspirations.
The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia and Charles H. Scott Gallery at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design are mounting Graham shows relying on key loans from the Rennie Collection. The Belkin exhibition (June 20-August 17) is built around Torqued Chandelier Release (2005), a film loop of a spinning chandelier borrowed from Rennie Collection. Works from the Belkin’s own collection include Vexation Island (1997), made for the 1997 Venice Biennale where Graham represented Canada, and Millennial Time Machine (2003), a camera obscura fitted on a nineteenth-century landau carriage that is part of the University’s Outdoor Art Collection and normally housed in a glass pavilion on campus. The exhibition also includes two monumental lightbox works shown for the first time in Canada, Leaping Hermit (2011) and Cactus Fan (2013), which was shot in a UBC Chemistry Department lab.
Rodney Graham: Torqued Chandelier Release and Other Works is part of a trio of exhibitions to be held from May to November in Vancouver, including Rodney Graham: Collected Works (May 31-October 4, 2014) at Rennie Collection and Rodney Graham: Artist in Artist’s Bar (Prop Paintings and Other Paintings) (September 17-November 16, 2014) at the Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr University of Art + Design. The exhibition is a collaboration with Rennie Collection, Vancouver, with the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts. We are grateful for the support of our Belkin Curator’s Forum members.