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Exhibition: Evan Lee Cirage at Monte Clark

Evan Lee 


January 13th – February 10th, 2024

Opening reception, Saturday, January 13th, noon to 5pm

Monte Clark is pleased to present Cirage, an exhibition of new paintings, pictures, prints and sculptures by Evan Lee.

Cirage is the French translation for shoe polish, a waxy paste or liquid used to polish, shine and waterproof leather shoes. 

Central to Evan Lee’s new body of work is an investigation into early photography, in particular Louis Daguerre’s Boulevard du Temple, taken in 1838. The photograph is one of the earliest surviving daguerreotype plates. At the time the picture was taken the Boulevard would have been bustling with pedestrians and horse traffic. Due to the long exposure time only static figures could be recorded, in this case a shoe shiner and his customer at the corner of the street, who may possibly be the first humans captured in a photograph. This picture represents a significant step in the development of photography, as well as the inherent class struggles emerging through the industrialization of France and separation between the wealthy and working class. Evan Lee’s After Vue de Boulevard du Temple, 1938 by Louis Daguerre is a reproduction of this detail of Daguerre’s picture rendered in shoe polish in lieu of ink or paint.

Lee’s use of shoe polish examines a common “low value” everyday product as an artistic medium, which he applies using different processes such as screen printing, or with paintbrushes. Shoe polish is chemically similar to paint or an encaustic, and once applied remains fixed. The material adds both colour and shine to any surface, like a faux-finish or veneer which conceals the surface underneath. Often performed by marginalized workers, shoe shining represents a form of labor tied to class and economic status. Lee’s sculptures, Cameos depicting silhouetted figures carved out from tins of shoe polish draw attention to the workers. 

Lee’s large-scale shoe polish paintings resemble iconic monochromatic paintings seminal to modern art of the 1950’s and 60s. This work considers tension between high art and low-class materials, pointing to the classism inherent in the economy of artistic production.

Evan Lee lives and works in Vancouver, BC. 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 Artforum, Frieze, Canadian Art Magazine, Art on Paper, Border Crossings, Flash Art, Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art and other publications. 

This work was made with partial support from the BC Arts Council.

Featured works, from top: Evan Lee, After ‘Vue de Boulevard du Temple’, 1938 by Louis Daguerre, 2023, screen print with shoe polish on watercolour paper, 15 x 11 in; Evan Lee, Cameo, 2023, homemade shoe polish, vintage shoe polish tins, 2-1/2 in. diameter.

Exhibition: Open Work (years from today) at CSA Space

Evan Lee
Open Work (years from today)
Exhibition Opening: November 2, 2023 at 7pm
Curated by Christopher Brayshaw

In his first solo exhibition at CSA Space since 2006, Vancouver artist Evan Lee presents Open Work (years from today), an installation of experimental lens-based, printed images.
Over the past 25 years, Lee has been producing works inside and outside of photography. During this time, Lee has always been interested in the people and places of his home in East Vancouver. However, his early works demonstrated a tenuous relationship with the depiction of human subjects and he opted instead to explore them through still life surrogates such ginseng roots and dollar store objects.
In particular, the motif of the elderly recurs in Lee’s conception of the city, as explored in his previous CSA Space installation, Manual Labour, and was also important in his own life, as exemplified by his large-scale photograph, Portrait of the Artist’s Grandmother. Although the city and its people have changed considerably in this time, this familiar figure remains the same.
Lee has explored the subject of elders through drawings, photographs, 3D modelling and 3D prints. In his latest exploration, Lee pairs photographs of old women with paper doilies. Comprising Open Work (years from today), these temporary printed images offer a meditation on the passage of time, reflecting the paradoxical nature of memories and observances: timeless yet fleeting, fragile yet enduring.
Evan Lee lives and works in Vancouver, BC. Recent public exhibitions include Forged at the Art Gallery at Evergreen, FUGAZI at Teck Gallery, SFU, Tyrannyat the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and Everything Under the Sun: In Memory of Andrew Gruft and Kids Take Over at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Lee is represented by Monte Clark Gallery.
CSA Space, 2414 Main St, Vancouver, BC
See Pulpfiction Books (2422 Main St.) for admission during regular business hours:
Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sundays and holidays 11am-7pm


Captives / Adamas 2021

In contrast to the “fake” diamonds used to produce Fugazi (2016), the gems pictured in Captives/Adamas (2020) are genuine diamonds of high quality and price. In these photographs, however, the diamonds appear in an unfamiliar form—they are uncut. Through extensive focus and exposure stacking—a macro-photography technique where limited depth-of-field requires areas of exposure and focus to be composited together—Lee captures these otherworldly rough gems as objects of great value that have yet to come into existence. This idea of the “yet-to-emerge” is reflected in the first half of the title, Captives, which refers to Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures, where partially carved figures emerge from rough, untouched marble. The second half points to the Greek origin of the word “diamond”: Adamas, meaning “invincible, indestructible and unyielding.” The duality produced by these two seemingly disparate words suggests the paradoxical values we hold in contemporary culture: captive, yet emergent; indestructible, yet unformed—manifesting in cultural obsessions with eternal youth and power. (Kate Henderson)

Exhibition: Evan Lee | Forged | at Art Gallery at Evergreen

Evan Lee: Forged Opening Reception | Sunday, November 21st, 2021
2-4 PM | Opening Remarks 2:45pm
We are hosting our first public opening reception since the
start of the pandemic for the exhibition Evan Lee: Forged
on Sunday November 21st from 2-4pm at the Art Gallery at
This is a solo exhibition of photography, painting and
sculpture by Evan Lee, a Vancouver-based Chinese Canadian
artist who explores the limits and possibilities of materials
(particularly lens-based media) through experimentation,
adaptability and an economy of means.
Vaccine passports are required to attend the event. Masks are
required in doors, and we encourage everyone to continue
practicing social distance. Opening remarks will take place
at 2:45pm. This event is wheelchair accessible.
Register here:

Exhibition: Full Circle, Monte Clark Gallery


19 September to 19 October, 2019

Opening Reception 19 September

Monte Clark Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Evan Lee. Full Circle includes figurative oil paintings that are derived from the artist’s original photography, displayed alongside photographs printed on canvas.

Known as an artist who works in a wide range of media, Evan Lee has been particularly interested in the space between painting and photography. In past projects such the Forest Fire, Flashers and Black Blot/Black Bloc series, Lee improvises with imaging technologies and traditional techniques to create photo-painting hybrids that defy categorization. With his Fugazi and Ginseng Root series as well as his Migrant Ship Re-Creation Project, Lee explores ways to activate the non-rational in photography through his use of lensless and appropriated images. In his new work, digital artifacts and jpegs from the artist’s own photographs are translated into paint and pigment.

In Full Circle, Lee uses technology to invoke the poetic, exploring the people and places of his Vancouver home as subject. In stark contrast to the unexpected colour and surface of the oil paintings, the large photographs printed on canvas are simply enlarged and not altered in any way. Speaking plainly, the they reveal the true nature of photographic depiction while simultaneously reflecting on it. Together, these works continue Evan Lee’s exploration of pictorial possibilities.

Evan Lee, detail, Hole In Glass, 2019, photograph.

Evan Lee, In a Restaurant, 2019, oil on canvas