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Sonny Assu and Vancouver Special at the Vancouver Art Gallery

Two new exhibits open at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

From December 3, 2016 to April 17, 2017, the Vancouver Art Gallery will feature the inaugural edition of its new triennial in the form of exhibit Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures, which strives to document the development of Vancouver’s contemporary art scene and the shifts it has undergone since the 2010 Winter Olympics.

In order to co-curate the exhibit, Vancouver Art Gallery’s chief curator/associate director Daina Augaitis and guest curator Jesse McKee, head of strategy at 221A, conducted over 90 studio visits in a four-month span, familiarizing themselves deeply with the city’s multigenerational community of emerging and established artists. While the works on display are diverse, ranging from pieces that engage with surrealism and the grotesque to abstracts and conceptual films, they are unified by a sense of place. The exhibit thereby allows viewers to encounter the familiar and consider their own perceptions of the city through the lenses of local artists, including Maya Beaudry, Tamara Henderson, Garry Neill Kennedy, Tristan Unrau, and Alison Yip, whose site-specific installation transforms the gallery’s neo-classical rotunda into a surreal gazebo.

Also opening December 3 (to April 23, 2017) is We Come to Witness from Ligwilda’xw Kwakwaka’wakw interdisciplinary artist Sonny Assu’s ongoing body of work Interventions on The Imaginary. In this series, Assu, a graduate of Emily Carr University, transposes digital tags overtop Emily Carr paintings selected from the gallery’s collection, infusing a traditional narrative with contemporary energy. His hypercharged form-line and ovoid shapes hover like spacecraft; visitors from another dimension bursting into Carr’s earth-toned world in vivid graffiti hues of orange, purple, and teal. The exhibition also includes new sculptural works from Assu, and a special collaboration with ceramic artist Brendan Tang.