Black Panther Coloring Book
Building upon recent projects, which similarly explored media images of events that concern migration, race, identity and protest, the artist has created new works that are based on the images in the Black Panther Coloring Book using a combination of media and forms.
The Black Panther Coloring Book was a document secretly produced and distributed by the FBI’s covert Counter Intelligence Program, which strategically attributed the book’s authorship to the Black Panther Party. This ‘children’s book’ contained graphic ‘anti-white’ and anti-police imagery, and was mailed to prominent civil rights supporters with the hopes that the offensive content would cause them to reconsider their support, thereby undermining the growing movement. This document and the uncanny circumstances of its existence complexly allude to past and present issues of race, authorship, identity, subterfuge and power, and it has renewed significance in the present day.
In Ichiban, the artist mixes paint and instant ramen noodles with other found objects to create experimental sculptures that consider the artificial nature of “instant” food, as well as reflecting on ephemeral form and temporality in the artworks themselves. Like the companion work, Fugazi, Ichiban alludes to the complex relationship between that which is “real” and that which is “artificial” in our contemporary culture and art. Lee’s project reflects on his earlier works, such as the Dollar Store Still Life series (2006), which also examined the economic and cultural values of fake and artificial consumer goods
installation photo by Chris Rollett
Fugazi consists of 5-by-5 foot prints created from digital scans of cubic zirconia, relatively inexpensive but high quality imitations of diamonds. A “Fugazi“ is a slang term used in Mafia films for a counterfeit diamond. The images are captured at a high level of detail and are enlarged fifteen thousand percent to a scale that renders the gems’ internal appearance as mesmerizingly random, distorted and fractured, while the effects of digital image-loss and artifacting emerge to aid in their visual transformation. The patterns of abstract shapes and reflected colours appear kaleidoscopic and at times groundless, an aesthetic that Lee manipulates further by constructing geometric backgrounds in response to the resulting visual space.
Fugazi also continues the artist’s interest in psychedelia, illusion and optics, as explored in such earlier works as Every Part from a Contaflex Camera… (2006); Stain (2003); and Phoropter (2012). Contrary to the reproducible nature of photography, each of the Fugazi prints, made on fine art paper, exists only as a signed unique edition of one.
Evan Lee, from Fugazi, 2015, archival pigment print
Monte Clark Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Evan Lee.
Lee’s new series Fugazi consists of visually stunning 5-by-5 foot prints created from digital scans of cubic zirconia, relatively inexpensive but high quality imitations of diamonds (“Fugazi“ is a slang term used in Mafia films for counterfeit diamonds.) The images are captured at a high level of detail and enlarged fifteen thousand percent to a scale that renders the gems’ internal appearance mesmerizingly random, distorted and fractured, while the effects of digital image-loss and artifacting emerge to aid in their visual transformation. The patterns of abstract shapes and reflected colours appear kaleidoscopic and at times groundless, an aesthetic that Lee manipulates further by constructing geometric backgrounds in response to the resulting visual space.
Lee’s project reflects on his earlier works, such as the Dollar Store Still Life series (2006), which also examined the economic and cultural values of fake and artificial consumer goods. Fugazi also continues Lee’s take on representations of psychedelia, illusion and optics, as explored in such earlier works as Every Part from a Contaflex Camera… (2006), and the Stain (2003) and Phoropter (2012) series. Lee’s practice has always been positioned both alongside and against the grain of photography, and Fugazi continues the artist’s image production in the avant-garde reaches of the post-photographic or camera-less digital realm. Contrary to the reproducible nature of photography, each of the Fugazi prints, made on fine art paper, exists only as a signed unique edition of one.
Alongside Fugazi, Lee will also present works from a complementary series entitled Ichiban. In these new works, Lee mixes paint and instant ramen noodles with other found objects to create experimental sculptures that consider the artificial nature of “instant” food, as well as reflecting on ephemeral form and temporality in the artworks themselves. Taken together, both Fugazi and Ichiban allude to the complex relationship between that which is “real” and that which is “artificial” in our contemporary culture and art.
Evan Lee lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. His first major solo exhibition “Captures” was held at the Presentation House Gallery in North Vancouver in 2006, and included catalogue essays by Jeff Wall and Peter Culley. Since then, Lee has exhibited in numerous museums and institutions including the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Windsor, the Contemporary Art Gallery, the Surrey Art Gallery, the Richmond Art Gallery, the Confederation Centre for the Arts, the Liu Hai Su Art Museum, and at the Winnipeg Art Gallery as a Sobey Award Finalist in 2014. Lee’s work has been published in Canadian Art Magazine, Art on Paper, Border Crossings, Flash Art, Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art and numerous other venues.
Holding the Pose: Portraits from the Collection
January 27 – November 27
Featuring works from the gallery’s collection by artists from across Canada, Holding the Pose demonstrates the complexity of interaction between artist and sitter in a wide variety of portraits in various mediums.
This exhibition presents a selection of portraits from the collection of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery. Combining historical portraiture with contemporary representations of individuals and groups, it provides an overview of the genre in Canada, its many approaches and its transformation over time, with a particular focus on the way the subjects of portraiture have played a part in the resulting work-their attitude, their mode of address, their self-presentation, and the way their pose is as much the subject of the work as their physical likeness. Portraits are ultimately the result of an encounter between artist and sitter. The exhibition’s starting point is the work of Prince Edward Island artist Robert Harris (1849-1919), who was in the late 19th century one of Canada’s most prominent portrait painters. Harris’s portraits functioned in dialogue with the rapidly spreading phenomenon of commercial photography. His work showcased the artist’s brushwork and skill at capturing a natural-seeming likeness, adhering closely to longstanding traditions of the formal, celebratory depiction in opposition to the emerging, and increasingly easy availability of the photographic image. His pictures define subjects as enduring monuments. Composed, regal sitters emerge from dark backgrounds as volumetric, physically imposing images of importance, accentuated by gilded frames. The aesthetic of portraiture is one of elevation and solidity, likeness as preservation and celebration.
The marriage of naturalness and monumentality in Harris’s work was a response not only to the photograph’s documentary power, but also to the more openly artificial images of aristocratic self-presentation exemplified in this exhibition by the work of Thomas Mower Martin. In the century following the heyday of Robert Harris’s official portraiture, modern contingency-the uncertainty of the individual’s position in the world-invaded and transformed the portrait genre. In an era when anyone could and should be a worthy subject of an image, the recording of individual lives adapted by concentrating on the ways that individuals both defined and exceeded the conditions of their existence.
The identity of the sitter is central to the portrait’s function, as it strives to establish the uniqueness of the person and his or her place in society and history. In the past century, the celebratory presentation of individual identity has been targeted by a wide-ranging critique that has redefined the genre. From George Pepper and Kathleen Daly’s quasi-ethnographic paintings of people who are meant to define a multi-ethnic nation, to Barbara Astman and KC Adams’ pictures of subjects positioning themselves in relation to popular gender and racial stereotypes, it is clear that portraiture now functions as part of a play of representations of identity. In this context, the naturalness of the late 19th century pose can no longer be taken for granted. Even the celebration of historical figures can be represented as a highly mediated form of theatre, as in the prints of Rémi Belliveau, with their ironic golden frames.
The pose itself and its status as a record can be represented tragically, as a kind of habit or trap of seeing. Edward Poitras physically equates the hanging of Louis Riel with the production of his image as a national hero. Dan O’Neill and Stephen May present the seductive pose as a received image, the individual subject filtered through a layer of associations that complicate the sitter’s agency. In the work of Prince Edward Island painter Brian Burke, presented here as a counterpoint to the legacy of Robert Harris, the pose becomes vulnerable, the subject’s self-presentation and visual isolation deeply ambivalent, even oppressed by a flattened space that nonetheless leaves the position of the sitter open ended. Burke’s portraits represent the potential and limitations of contemporary freedom and uncertainty.
-Pan Wendt, curator
Views from the Southbank II: Moments, Reflections, Intervals
Experience a fleeting moment in time through portraiture and landscape artworks in this second installment of Views from the Southbank.
Surrey Art Gallery
Apr 11, 2015 – Jun 14, 2015
We are surrounded by characters in the urban and suburban places we live. People—in their astonishing variety and complexity—show the different facets of what it is to be human. Places embody character too. We talk about an old house having “character” or the “face” of a building. Landscapes, just like humans, can convey emotions like boredom, uncertainty, or peacefulness.
Playing with an expanded idea of portraiture, the artists in Views from the Southbank II create representations or impressions of people and places, some working in traditional portraiture style and others using more experimental and collaborative methods. Their work is situated in context to the rapidly growing “South of Fraser” region of British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, comprising the municipalities of Surrey, Langley, Delta, and White Rock. In capturing the character(s) of a place that is constantly changing, the artists offer a brief interval in time—the present moment animated by the presence of individuals and places.
This project is the second installment of Views from the Southbank, a trio of exhibitions featuring 70 local artists celebrating Surrey Art Gallery’s 40th anniversary.
Matilda Aslisadeh, Richard Bond, Randy Bradley, Claude Breeze, Edward Burtynsky, Lisa Chen, Jennifer Clark, Barbara Cole, Gregory W. Dawe, Brandon Gabriel, Gabor Gasztonyi, Alex Grewal, Elizabeth Hollick, Evan Lee, Ken Lum, Scott Massey, Paulo Majano, Michael Markowsky, Sean Mills, Jef Morlan, Ann Nelson, James Nizam, Zoë Pawlak, Barbara Pratezina, Helma Sawatzky, Ikbal Singh, Jeannette Sirios, Ken Wallace, Stella Weinert, Kira Wu
Image credit: Lisa Chen, Time Reflects, clear vinyl (2012)
– See more at: http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation
Figures on a Deck from Untitled Migrant Ship Re-Creation Project
3D printed prototype, wood and green foam
38 figures, each figure approximately 2 inches in height.
In 2009, the artist began a re-creation of a press image depicting the arrival of the Sri Lankan migrant ship, the MV Ocean Lady at the west coast of Canada. This work was realized in many different forms, but most notably as a 3D re-creation and 3D printed models. In addition to photographs, drawings, paintings and other works, there is a web archive of this project.
It is with this project that the artist began looking at how migration has been depicted in media and in history. This subject concerns the complexities and challenges of immigration and its history in Canada, some of which were experienced directly by the artist’s family and friends.
At the moment, numerous people from Africa and the Middle East are attempting to reach Europe by sea. Many Europeans view this as problematic, leading to a strong rise in nationalism and anti-immigration rhetoric and policy. These attitudes also exist closer to home: in 2009 and 2010, two ships arrived at the coast of BC carrying Tamil asylum-seekers from Sri Lanka. Canadian authorities seized these ships and detained their crew and passengers. There has been massive public debate and speculation over the legality of their refugee claims and the practice of human smuggling, and a climate of xenophobia has developed amidst accusations of immigration “queue-jumping” and fears of terrorism. This has been echoed many times in Canada’s history by the arrival of: Fujianese migrants in 1999, Jewish Europeans on the MS St. Louis in 1939 and Sikhs on the SS Komagata Maru in 1914. And it is difficult to separate this history from that of slavery and colonialization.