An upcoming group exhibition at the Surrey Art Gallery, entitled Facing Time, draws together works from an intergenerational roster of artists, including two dozen ECU community members.
Facing Time, which opens Jan. 23, draws together recent and historical works around the theme of the human face, says SAG’s curator of exhibitions and collections Jordan Strom.
“Contemporary art can reimagine how we represent ourselves and think about facial communication both now and in the future,” he says. “This exhibition examines the many creative and critical ways in which artists have sought to capture the human face over the past 50 years.”
The pandemic, the gallery notes in a statement, has brought a renewed emphasis to the human face as a site of revelation or obfuscation.
“The human face reveals a lot about someone,” the SAG writes. “From smiling or frowning to more complex expressions of hope, fear, or approval, the face is how people read others. During this pandemic, faces have taken on heightened significance. Most interactions with others happen virtually. Masks cover much of people’s faces, leaving communication up to the eyes.”
Works in the show are drawn from loan and from the gallery’s permanent collection. They include collages of archival portraits, psychological portraiture, altered faces from art history as art stamps, photographs of amateur baseball players, drawings of aged faces suffering from illness, needlepoint representations of French philosophers, terracotta heads, and artworks that use social media as a medium.
The show will also feature a performance by artists Qian Cheng (BFA 2016), Francis Cruz (BFA 2012) and Patrick Cruz (BFA 2010), taking place during the launch event on Saturday, Jan. 30, from 6:30pm to 7pm, via Instagram Live.
While Facing Time includes many works created before the pandemic, the gallery says they remain both persuasive and relevant.
“[The works in Facing Time] speak to the current moment of facial interfaces and increased digital activity,” the gallery writes. “Time shrinks as people scroll through faces on social media, join another video conference meeting, and catch up with family and friends in the same or different time zones via video calls. More and more personal devices use digital facial recognition software for identification and surveillance. Selfies still abound.”