Yishu - Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art

Yishu’s Founding Editor Ken Lum’s Solo-Exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Since he began exhibiting his art in the late 1970s, Vancouver-based artist Ken Lum has developed a complex body of work that includes performances in public spaces, sculptures produced from rented furniture, studio portrait photographs that merge with faux corporate logos, paintings of incomprehensible language, mazes made of mirrors inscribed with texts, and works that mimic the signage found in low-end strip malls. With each of these varied forms, Lum engages with the structures, systems and ordeals that shape our lived experience of the everyday world. His strategies often involve manipulating the mechanisms deployed to attract attention in consumer culture — for example, by using an unexpectedly personal or political statement on a commercial business sign — in order to articulate the anxieties and contradictions that mark social spaces in which disparate traditions collide and mutate in a globalized world. Lum consistently evokes the gestures, utterances, tensions and often mundane exchanges that mark the intersection of public and private space in everyday life. Often drawing upon established conventions of portraiture, his work locates the individuals he depicts as subjects whose desire for autonomy sits in tension with the conditions that shape their position as social subjects.

The most extensive survey of Ken Lum’s work to date, the exhibition features a number of works not previously exhibited in North America, including Mirror Maze with 12 Signs of Depression, produced for Documenta 11 in 2002, House of Realization, produced for the Istanbul Biennale in 2007, and his recent Rorschach Shopkeeper Signs. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, published in partnership with Douglas & McIntyre.

Photo (top): Ken Lum, Red Circle, 1986 fabric, wood. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Acquisition Fund. Courtesy of Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery.

On View: February 12 to September 25, 2011

Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7 Canada

Gallery Hours

Daily 10 am to 5 pm; Tuesdays until 9 pm


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