Red Circle, 1986
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Acquisition Fund
Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery
View Ken Lum Artist Edition,
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 ó for example, by using an unexpectedly personal or political
statement on a commercial business sign ó 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
The most extensive survey of Ken Lumís 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.
This exhibition is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Grant Arnold, Audain Curator of British Columbia Art.
The exhibition is supported by the Province of British Columbia, Arts Partners in Creative Development, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Additional support is generously provided by Rick Erickson and Donna Partridge.