Vancouver artist Tiko Kerr's paintings on plexiglass reflect COVID-19 pandemic issues

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      A local artist who lived through a devastating epidemic has based his latest work upon the existential crisis of the current pandemic.

      Multidisciplinary artist Tiko Kerr tested positive for HIV in 1985 during the AIDS Crisis, and subsequently became an activist for HIV in addition to other causes.

      Kerr’s current exhibition PLEXUS: A Vaccine Agains the Conventional opened at Mónica Reyes Gallery (602 East Hastings Street) on January 9 and will continue until February 13.

      The exhibition features Kerr’s painting explorations on a surface that has come into widespread use during the COVID-19 pandemic: plexiglass.

      "I’ve chosen to work on the modern medium of plexiglass at a time when it has taken on a new and critical role as a transparent, protective barrier that can shield us from an insidious virus but, isolates us from one another as well,” Kerr explained in a statement about the exhibition.

      But the paintings also reflect the impact that the pandemic has had on society. 

      “It is also at this contemporary moment when we all are suffering under the omnipresent burden of distorted socio-political issues where transparency and truth can no longer be taken for granted,” he stated.

      On his website, he adds that the transparency of plexiglass enabled him to view his painting on the reverse side and that "plexiglass’s refractive and reflective qualities also offer an invitation to the viewer to participate in the interaction".

      Meanwhile, Kerr continues to address health-related issues in his other current work.

      He recently completed a 5,000-square-foot outdoor mural at B.C. Children’s Hospital’s Sunny Hill Health Centre while directing the documentary Undetectable, about the social impact of viruses such as HIV and COVID-19.

      To view the exhibition, visits can be scheduled at the gallery website.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.