This text was originally intended for a public presentation to coincide with the closing of my exhibition, Fugazi, at Teck Gallery. Due the Covid-19 pandemic, the talk instead takes the form of a text. (click to read)
EVAN LEE – FULL CIRCLE
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
Evan Lee: Fugazi Teck Gallery May 11, 2019 - Apr 26, 2020
Evan Lee's image-based practice takes up interdisciplinary considerations of vision and constructions of value through photography, painting and sculpture. In particular, Lees work examines the aesthetic and social consequences that occur in the evolution of images and imaging technology. His yearlong photo-based installation, Fugazi at the Teck Gallery, considers methods of image capture as they effect ways of seeing and how value is socially constructed. Fugazi begins from photographic scans of cubic zirconia, a relatively inexpensive crystalline form of synthesized material that often stands in for diamonds. The images are captured in detail and enlarged to a scale that transforms the gemstones internal appearance to one that magnifies the distortion and fracture of light. Capturing is integral to photography and Lees image capture opens up space for the questioning of optic purity, of the cubic zirconia and of the image itself (as the act of enlargement results in a loss detail). The resulting abstract patterns and refracted colours in Fugazi present a destabilizing kaleidoscopic effect, similar to sunlit stained-glass windows. Because of low cost, durability, purity, and visual likeness, cubic zirconia has been seen as a potential solution to the controversy surrounding the rarity and valuation of diamonds. However, the diamond monopoly persists in perpetuating and fabricating worth through other cultural measures. Fugazi is a fictionalized slang term for a counterfeit gemstone. The captures of the tiny gemstones are scaled up and bisected for the Teck Gallery to fenestral proportions, and in their installation begin to share a language of architecture, landscape and development. In dialogue with the Teck Gallerys view overlooking Burrard Inlet and North Vancouvers coastal mountains, Fugazi is an intervention in the edifice, mimicking and making strange aspects of building and its design, akin to a faceted window illuminated from behind. Conjuring spaces of worship, the installation speaks to economies of belief including religion, education and capitalism. Rising like mineral suns, Fugazi positions the images along a horizon line that connects with our daily planetary rotations while also drawing lines to the extraction industries and the appetite for development that Vancouver is built on. Fugazi carries an open-ended resonance in relation to value and land. Extraction economies are increasingly being challenged in this moment of late capitalism where climate change is an oppressive force and a turn to renewal and alternate solutions are called for. Our relation to land as a site of colonization is showing its irreversible damage to cultural and environmental ecologies. In its consideration of the complexity of vision, Fugazi asks us to unpack how we understand value in the image and its referents. Lee is a Vancouver based artist whose work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. He received his MFA from the University of British Columbia. Exhibitions include Libby Leshgold Gallery; Winnipeg Art Gallery; Richmond Art Gallery; Kamloops Art Gallery; Vancouver Art Gallery; Capture Festival; SFU Gallery; Contemporary Art Gallery; Presentation House Gallery; Contact Photography Festival; Le Mois de la Photo Montreal; Liu Hai Su Museum; and Confederation Centre. Lees work has been featured in Border Crossings, Flash Art International, Lapiz International Art Magazine, Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Canadian Art, and Art on Paper. He was shortlisted for the Sobey Art Prize in 2014 and has undertaken public art commissions. His work is represented by Monte Clark Gallery.
Curated by Melanie O'Brian http://www.sfu.ca/galleries/teck-gallery/EvanLee-Fugazi.html.html TECK GALLERY SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings Street Vancouver BC
The City of Richmond invited me to mentor emerging Richmond Artists Crystal Ho and Chad Wong to produce public artworks on the theme of Migration. I wanted to try something a little different and work with text and language. My project, Double Meaningless, 2018 is a response to the ongoing debate in Richmond over signage and English language requirements.
October 21, 2017 to January 14, 2018
Exhibition curated by Cate Rimmer
Opening Reception: Friday October 20, 2017 at 7:00pm
The Pacific, the inaugural exhibition at the Libby Leshgold Gallery, brings together artists from countries in and around the Pacific Ocean.
The exhibition considers the Pacific Ocean as a shared and connected space. It explores the idea that although the Pacific is an immense body of water there is a strong sense that it is a space of connection between peoples that live beside or are surrounded by it — that it brings people together rather than separates them. In contrast, much of the narrative around the Atlantic Ocean has historically perceived it as a space of distancing and division.
In thinking about the Pacific Ocean as a shared space we can consider the histories and contemporary concerns as linked while also being specific to each place. The show will include works that address environmental issues such as rising sea levels, nuclear contamination, the impact of industry and the built environment on the ocean. It will also consider human migration and the experiences of migrants. Finally it will touch upon our deep personal and spiritual bonds to the waters of the Pacific.
Some of the work in the exhibition include excerpts from Charles Lim’s Sea State, which was shown at the 56th Venice Biennale at the Singapore Pavilion, Paula Schaafhausen’s Ebbing Tagaloa, an installation made of sand and coconut oil, and Khvay Samnang’s Air, a video made in the Fukushima Prefecture shortly after the nuclear disaster occurred. Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan will be making a large site-specific installation in the gallery in the weeks leading up to the opening.
Curated by Cate Rimmer, The Pacific extends the research begun in the multi-part exhibition The Voyage, or Three Years at Sea. It will include the work of Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan (Philippines), Taloi Havini (Papua New Guinea), Charles Lim (Singapore), Genevieve Robertson (Canada), Jane Chang Mi (Hawaii), Khvay Samnang (Cambodia), Simryn Gill (Malaysia/Australia), Michael Drebert (Canada), Paula Schaafhausen (Samoa), Kalisolaite ‘Uhila (Tonga/New Zealand), Evan Lee (Canada), Beau Dick (Canada). There will be a series of talks and events scheduled around the opening and during the run of the exhibition that will include artists, migrant communities, social historians and scientists.
Exhibition: Pictures from Here, Vancouver Art Gallery
curated by Grant Arnold
May 19 – September 4, 2017
“The rise of photo-conceptualism in Vancouver has influenced not just contemporary artists
across Canada, but contemporary art practices around the world.”
– Grant Arnold, Audain Curator of British Columbia Art
Comprised of photographs and video works by Vancouver-based artists that date from the late 1950s up to the present, Pictures From Here reflects the development of the innovative lens- based practices that emerged as a counter- point to the lyrical landscape tradition that dominated art making in this city well into the 1970s. At that time, Vancouver-based artists such as Ian Wallace, Jeff Wall and Christos Dikeakos adopted intellectually rigorous approaches to photography that both articulated an affinity with the challenges to tradition put forward by the modernist avant-garde and acknowledged the place in which they were working.
The term “photo-conceptualism” emerged out of this moment and has become intrinsically linked to the rise of Vancouver as an internationally known centre for the production of contemporary art. However, while terms like photo-conceptualism may be useful in describing approaches to photography that draw upon the critiques of the image mounted by Conceptual Art and post- modernism, they can also efface significant differences in the practices of artists whose work might be associated with the label.
Focusing on representations of the city and its surrounds, Pictures From Here acknowledges the legacy of the innovative approaches to photography developed in Vancouver, while also emphasizing the diverse range of interests and socially engaged practices that have informed lens-based art in the city over the past four decades. The exhibition is comprised of work drawn from the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Collection and from private collections, many of which have not been previously exhibited in Vancouver.
Pictures From Here includes work by artists Roy Arden, Karin Bubaš, Christos Dikeakos, Stan Douglas, Greg Girard, Rodney Graham, Mike Grill, Arni Haraldsson, Fred Herzog, Barrie Jones, Evan Lee, N.E. Thing Co., Marian Penner Bancroft, Henri Robideau, Sandra Semchuk and James Nicholas, Althea Thauberger, Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace, Paul Wong , Cornelia Wyngaarden and Andrea Fatona.
Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Grant Arnold, Audain Curator of British Columbia Art.
The photographic sculpture Three Ginseng Roots is a commissioned artwork for River Park Place in Richmond, BC. Balancing modern materials and processes with natural forms and colours, the three glass panels are installed within the water feature to give the sense that the roots are floating.
Ginseng is a medicinal plant used by many cultures and especially in traditional Chinese medicine. Rare and precious specimens that have been found in the wild can be seen on display at the many herbal stores in Richmond. Ginseng is also grown on farms throughout Canada, including on the Fraser River. The artwork promotes good health, well-being and connection with nature.
It is said that the dried roots resemble human figures. These roots have been enlarged to the size of a person to make them come to life and so that viewers will imagined their own characters and personalities for them them