Kerry James Marshall, De Style, 1993, acrylic and collage on canvas, 8'8“ x 10'2”.


Kerry James Marshall

Vancouver Art Gallery
750 Hornby Street
May 8–January 3

Curated by Kathleen Bartels and Jeff Wall

Kerry James Marshall’s 1993 canvas De Style, a vibrant, large-scale, multifigure painting of an African-American barbershop, was a breakthrough for the artist and set the basic parameters of his ensuing practice. In the years since, he has updated the ostensibly moribund genre of history painting with an important corpus of visually complex narrative tableaux. For the Chicago-based painter’s first solo show in Canada, De Style will join some twenty more recent works, including examples from his iconic series “Garden Project,” 1995, which richly reimagines the representation of public housing projects. Organized by Vancouver Art Gallery director Kathleen Bartels and artist Jeff Wall—whose photographic practice also often engages history painting—the exhibition promises a much-needed showcase of Marshall’s vital and inventive picturing of America’s largely unpictured contemporary histories.