Uncommon Language

October 17, 2020 - April 5, 2021

Allison Hrabluik, The Splits, 2015 (still), digital video with sound, 15 min., Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Purchased with proceeds from the Audain Emerging Artists Acquisition Fund

Within European and North American art history, expressions of abstract art—from the early to the mid-20th century—have often been linked to a utopian desire for a universal aesthetic language. Uncommon Language responds to the Eurocentric promise—and presumption—of a single overarching artistic language, through the presentation of artworks that evoke, embrace, complicate and counter the idea of a common vernacular. Loosely grouped into interconnected thematic sections, the works in Uncommon Language employ a range of aesthetic idioms that draw from traditions of abstraction, spirituality and literature, as well as ideas around selfhood and the body.


Featured artists include Josef Albers, Sonny Assu, Vija Celmins, Allyson Clay, Andrew Dadson, Beau Dick, General Idea, Jean Goguen, Betty Goodwin, Angela Grauerholz, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Allison Hrabluik, Robert Indiana, Karin Jones, Mary Kelly, Ann Kipling, Zoe Kreye, Lui Shou Kwan, Ken Lum, Agnes Martin, Robert Motherwell, Ad Reinhardt, Françoise Sullivan, Takao Tanabe, Cy Twombly, Rachel Whiteread, Joyce Wieland, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and Zhu Jinshi.

Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Zoë Chan, Assistant Curator