Past Exhibitions

The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social

February 2 to April 20, 2008


Ed Pien
In awe of Her power, 2006
ink on Shoji paper
Photo courtesy of the artist

The tree occupies a central role in many cultures and is deeply connected to personal and collective memory. It is especially meaningful in this country where the single tree has been a symbol of the solitary individual in nature and historically significant in the vocabulary of nation-building. In the early 20th century, the Group of Seven produced images of trees that articulated ideas of Canadian nationhood as bold breaks with British tradition. More recently, artists have referenced the tree in order to make visible the forces that shape today’s interpretations of the landscape.

The exhibition begins with images of the forest as a subject that inspires awe and instills reverence for the power of nature. This association with the spiritual and sublime is inherent in the historical work of Emily Carr and is further investigated by contemporary artists such as Ed Pien and Kevin Schmidt.

This exhibition was prompted by a recent donation of a photographic series by Jochen Gerz and includes works from the permanent collection by Vikky Alexander, Sybil Andrews, Patricia Deadman, Rodney Graham, Lorraine Gilbert, Gordon Smith, Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace and others. It is amplified by key loans from contemporary artists Karin Buba? Andrew Dadson, Kirsten Everberg, Maximo Gonzalez, Nestor Kruger, Liz Magor, Aernout Mik, Ed Pien, Pedro Reyes, Althea Thauberger, Mungo Thomson, Stephen Waddell, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and features a major new site specific installation by Gabriela Albergaria.

The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Daina Augaitis, chief curator/associate director with assistant curator, Emmy Lee.