Vancouver Art Gallery's 2017 program will highlight art with national, local ties

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      The Vancouver Art Gallery has announced highlights for its 2017 programming, and it's chock full of dynamic, thought-provoking work from around the globe—but it also includes important work from right here in Vancouver.

      Many of the upcoming exhibits will focus on distinctive artistic practices from Canada's visual art communities, while also highlighting the country's varying cultural identities. Special focus will be given to the west coast.

      The first of these exhibits is a career retrospective of renowned Musqueam artist Susan Point. Featuring more than 100 artworks created over 35 years, Susan Point: Spindle Whorl will highlight a particular motif found in Point's body of work.

      Used traditionally by Coast Salish women to prepare wool that would eventually be woven into blankets and garments, the spindle whorl provides a structure for her work. Her carvings and sculptures articulate Salish art in a contemporary way.

      This exhibit will begin on February 18, and run until May 28. 

      In the years prior to the transfer of Hong Kong’s sovereignty to mainland China in 1997, tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents immigrated to Canada, and Vancouver in particular.Among them were many artists.

      The works of prominent Hong Kong artists created in Vancouver post-relocation will be exhibited as part of Pacific Crossings, which will highlight a number of contemporary and modern takes on mediums like ink painting, abstract and landscape painting.

      By examining the works of David Lam, Koo Mei, Paul Chui, and Josh Hon, the exhibit seeks to determine what kind of influence a new environment had on these artists’ work. It opens on March 4, and closes on May 28.

      In Howie Tsui: Retainers of Anarchy, a solo exhibit featuring new work from Vancouver’s own Howie Tsui, viewers will experience a 28-metre scroll-like video installation that speaks to the era of the Song dynasty (960 to 1279 CE).

      By setting the story in Kowloon’s Walled City, an ungoverned residence of disenfranchised refugees in Hong Kong, which was demolished In 1994, the artist undermines the dynasty’s idealistic social cohesion.

      The work considers wuxia, a traditional form of martial arts literature, as a narrative tool for resistance. Created using characters from lower social classes who tried to uphold chivalry in the face of oppression, wuxia was placed under heavy censorship by the People’s Republic of China, which feared that its messages would spur an anti-government movement.

      Retainers of Anarchy opens on March 4, and will run until May 28.

      As of May, a site-specific text work by Hong Kong-based artist Tsang Kin-Wah will be part of an exhibition with the same name. The piece will be installed on an exterior wall of the VAG.

      Tsang’s text, written in both Chinese and English, will reference editorials taken from Vancouver news publications in the 1980s and 1990s, and will look closely at the generalizations asserted with respect to the cultural climate surrounding immigration in Vancouver from Hong Kong.

      It will be on display until August. 

      In Pictures from Here, the VAG takes an in-depth look at Vancouver’s association with conceptually based photography and its international status as a center for contemporary art.

      The work exhibited follows the departure from an obsession with romantic landscapes and the transition to an appreciation for avant-garde projects and a more modern, intellectual approach.

      Photographs and video work made over the last quarter-century by artists including Roy Arden, Jeff Wall, Fred Herzog, Paul Wong, Ian Wallace, Sandra Semchuk and James Nicholas Christos Dikeakos, Rodney Graham, Marian Penner Bancroft, Karin Bubas, Stan Doulglas, Althea Thaubgerger, and more will be exhibited.

      Pictures from Here will open on May 19, and run until September 4.

      Paris’s Musée Marmottan Monet will contribute pieces from their extensive collection to Claude Monet’s Secret Garden, which will be Western Canada’s largest exhibition of Claude Monet’s work.

      Highlighting his pieces made in Giverny, France, paintings like Water Lilies will be juxtaposed with other significant selections from the 1870s. Landscape paintings from England and other parts of France will also be included.

      In total, the exhibit will include close to 40 pieces by the famous painter. It will also speak to Monet’s obsession with Japanese woodblock prints, and how they encouraged him to pursue concepts like asymmetry.

      Claude Monet’s Secret Garden will open on June 24, and close on October 1.

      In an exhibit that looks closely at two very distinct modes that dominate contemporary painting in Canada, the VAG will trace the origins of both back to the 1970s, when many debated whether painting would continue to exist as a medium.

      While some argued for the idea of conceptual painting, others thought doing and making should be pitted against concepts and ideas.

      Tracing the debate and documenting the work of 30 artists, Entangled: Two Views on Contemporary Canadian Painting, will survey what makes painting relevant in today’s Canada.

      The exhibit opens on September 30, and will run until January 2.