Clint Burnham

  • Richard Jackson

    Richard Jackson’s show at Rennie Collection at Wing Sang, a private gallery that houses the collection of real estate mogul Bob Rennie and hosts occasional exhibitions, activates its venue, to use the artist’s term. Wall paintings, sculptural installations, and conceptual gambits—all commissioned by the gallery or drawn from the collection—engage directly with the architecture and its owner, providing an at times biting commentary on art as commodity and visual stimulant.

    The largest, and perhaps boldest (though the competition is fierce) work in the show, Rennie 101, 2009–10, greets the viewer

  • Scott McFarland

    Scott McFarland’s photographs—of London’s Hampstead Heath, of an overgrown Vancouver garden, or of the California desert struck by hard light—are crisply rendered and technically precise, their colors vivid, the focus sharp. But closer inspection reveals visual contradictions: Flowers in a neglected garden blossom next to a tree about to drop its leaves; the shadows of barrel cacti point to the left and the right, as if the sun were in two places at once; and two images are identical but for their dramatically different skies.

    McFarland was until recently based in Vancouver, and his work can be

  • picks December 15, 2008

    “The Sound I’m Looking For, Part 2”

    This exhibition is an up-to-date survey of sound art featuring an international group of artists: Brady Cranfield, Brian Joseph Davis, Holly Ward, Ceal Floyer, and Luke Fowler. The most intriguing works in the exhibition interfere with sound or music, or make no noise whatsoever. Fowler’s Pilgrimage from Scattered Points, 2006, a forty-five-minute documentary about the experimental musical ensemble Scratch Orchestra, depicts musicians working in collective cacophony; Ward’s Listening Post, 2008, reimagines a cold-war-era surveillance post via a Buckminster Fuller poem; and Davis’s Original

  • picks December 13, 2008

    Shannon Oksanen

    Shannon Oksanen is a Vancouver artist perhaps best known for her series of drawings from 1996 through 2003 of Nana Mouskouri that captured, in a minimal, awkward style, the Greek songstress’s iconic look: pageboy haircut, nerdy glasses, a face as vacuous as her phenomenally successful music. Oksanen also produced serial portraits of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre for an exhibition last year. In “Summerland,” Oksanen continues this interstitial interest in portraiture and the cinematic, with a series of softly rendered oil paintings of Elvis Presley and a bravura color film (in wide-screen

  • picks September 30, 2008

    Michael Drebert

    Michael Drebert is a young Vancouver artist who thus far has concentrated on making things that do not work. For a group show at the Western Front in 2005, he displayed the pin from a door hinge, on a plinth. The pin was from a door somewhere in the building. For the same exhibition, he boiled down a bottle of Canadian Club rye to remove the alcohol, then replaced the liquid in the bottle. Drebert’s art brings to mind Bill Brown’s influential essay “Thing Theory,” which declares: “We begin to confront the thingness of objects when they stop working for us.” For Drebert, objects became things.

  • picks September 22, 2008

    Gordon Smith

    Gordon Smith’s chilly scenes of winter seem oddly out of season during Vancouver’s Indian summer. But Smith’s large acrylic paintings—nine of which are on display in the gallery’s main room, with seven more upstairs—are resolute in their dedication to a style that, because it is not fashionable, is also never out of date. Smith, now eighty-nine years old, is one of the West Coast’s last standing modernists; he is a painter whose canvases’ vitality, scope, and interplay of surface and depth belie not just his age but also any pat declarations of painterly modernism’s demise. Dialectics of form

  • picks August 04, 2008

    Rebecca Belmore

    Rebecca Belmore’s midcareer retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery neatly displays three tendencies in her art, each of which gives rise to questions about the relation between politics and form. First, Belmore’s work has a strong formal element, often having to do with color. Her photographs of a woman wrapped in cloth suggest, alternatively, swaddling, a papoose, a straitjacket, and even Harry Houdini. In the works Untitled 1, Untitled 2, and Untitled 3 (all 2004), the wrapping is white cloth: The figure is contorted or hanging upside down. In White Thread, 2003, the swaddling is red, a

  • picks July 24, 2008

    Corin Sworn

    Corin Sworn’s new sculptures are ultracasual and seem almost not to be art. A chrome stand that could easily be found in a retail-fixtures outlet sits on a round piece of felt beside a circular glass plate. Straps attached to the stand give it an S/M frisson. In (im)possible (all works 2008), monochromes made of burlap are stacked against the wall, as if the show’s installer went on a lunch break and never came back. A stainless-steel cane leans against another wall, its end resting on a videotape copy of The Stepford Wives. Most spectacularly, two photographs face each other from across the

  • picks July 21, 2008

    Samuel Roy-Bois

    Samuel Roy-Bois’s new sculptural installation provokes laughter. I stumbled across it—literally: I tripped on the raised, carpeted floor he had installed for the work, which presents itself as a second skin, as it were, for the gallery space. One follows the institutional gray carpeting into a small room, roughed in with framing and cutaway drywall. Inside is a pointy cardboard construction, its seams highlighted by black duct tape, connected to the ceiling with string. The many planes of the cardboard construction are numbered, in thick marker, as if the rough interior of this provisional room

  • picks June 27, 2008

    “Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, but Not Simpler”

    A polemical survey of minimalist and conceptualist strategies by young artists, the exhibition “Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, but Not Simpler” has been organized by Ph.D. candidate Juan Gaitan. These days, even a ramshackle institution like the artist-run Western Front, housed in a former Knights of Pythias hall, is ripe for critical intervention: Thus Ron Tran exhibits his front door, Arabella Campbell destructures the gallery space, and Abbas Akhavan offers a rough-and-ready mourning for alternative art. Tran’s Apt. 201, 2008, takes place both in the gallery and in his nearby

  • picks June 09, 2008

    “Idyll: Three Exhibitions”

    “Idyll” is a loose, hippieish grab bag of historical art, archival supplements, and some very cool contemporary work. Commemorating—or mourning—May 1968, the presentation centers on phosphorescent art from the ’60s by Audrey Capel Doray, a geodesic dome–cum–video installation by Noam Gonick and Luis Jacob, and a video-projection environment by Holly Ward. The most thought-provoking work, Ward’s Radical Rupture, 2005–2008, is also the most sensuous. Beanbag chairs, arranged on a shag carpet, invite the gallerygoer to sit down and relax, while a large screen shows a video projection of a night

  • picks June 04, 2008

    Ron Terada

    In Vancouver, they’re called eggs: Caucasians who are wannabe Asians. They’re manga-reading, anime-watching, dim-sum-eating whites who want to get down with the large Asian population in this Pacific Rim metropolis. In his new exhibition, Ron Terada adds a retro twist to this ethnic simulation. Three white women made up as maikos (apprentice geisha) are depicted smoking, drinking sake, and popping pills in a short video loop (on a large, nine-screen video wall). The camera zooms in on their eyes, as if looking for epicanthic folds. Three large-scale photographs complete Terada’s acerbic take on