Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures

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Van Special 3 Way X 895
Colleen Heslin, Derya Akay, Eli Bornowsky

The Vancouver Art Gallery debuts its inaugural triennial exhibition putting the focus on the city's contemporary art scene, and the spotlight on many of our alumni + faculty


Dec 3, 2016, 12:00AM – Apr 17, 2017, 12:00AM

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The Vancouver Art Gallery presents Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures, the inaugural edition of its new triennial. The exhibition offers a comprehensive survey of the city’s contemporary art scene and its shifts since the 2010 Winter Olympics, featuring artworks ranging from painting, drawing, animation, ceramics, textiles, audio and installation.

Over a four-month period in the spring of 2016, curators Daina Augaitis ('83) and guest curator Jesse McKee, conducted over 90 studio visits, mostly with emerging artists, but also with a few established artists whose ideas have been prescient. The range of participants echoes the breadth of Vancouver’s vibrant art community. The result is a multi-generational exhibition that will engage its visitors through a myriad of styles, approaches and practices.

Emily Carr University of Art + Design is proud and honoured to see many of our alumni and faculty recognized in this important exhibition.

Featured ECU Alumni + Faculty include:

Derya Akay
Maya Beaudry
Raymond Boisjoly (Alumnus/Associate Professor)
Eli Bornowsky
Rebecca Brewer
Colleen Brown
Kim Dorland
Barry Doupé
Michael Drebert
Julia Feyrer
Jeneen Frei Njootli
Colleen Heslin
Allison Hrabluik (Sessional Faculty)
Gary Neil Kennedy (Sessional Faculty)
Tiziana La Melia
Glenn Lewis
Elizabeth McIntosh(Associate Professor)
Jordan Milner
Rachelle Sawatsky
Krista Belle Stewart
Angela Teng
Mina Totino
Ron Tran
Tristan Unrau
Charlene Vickers

“Vancouver Special is drawn from the low-cost housing style that was popular in Vancouver between the 1960s and 80s. This archetype has been embraced again as an iconic symbol of the city. The title of the inaugural exhibition within this new triennial format, Ambivalent Pleasures, points to the ever-present gap between where we are and where we’d like to be. The artworks in the exhibition offer many possibilities for visitors to locate the pleasures in their own experiences of encountering, considering and navigating the complex conditions of today’s city.”

Co-curators Daina Augaitis and Jesse McKee

Works included in Ambivalent Pleasures offer a number of overlapping conversations. Central to these dialogues are three ideas:

  • A number of artists engage with Surrealist strategies and ideas. They explore the unconscious and diverse modes of perception, speaking to notions of alienation, escape, romanticism and even the grotesque. In some instances, the works exude a comic tone; in others, a sense of the uncanny points to spirits of unrest that lurk beneath the surface.
  • Several artists present a range of approaches to abstraction. This naturally includes a number of painters, as well as sculptors and artists working with textiles who implicate the meaning of gesture or the history of modern painting without necessarily putting brush to canvas.
  • Other artists are invested in the possibilities of working conceptually to address today’s social contexts. Questioning dominant systems of knowledge, these artists make sense of the world through material processes, recurrent gestures and other types of intervention.
About the Curators: