“Ian Wallace: At the Intersection of Painting and Photography” is a thoughtful and sometimes moving retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery of an analytical local artist whose work is often very large and who uses found or revered media materials like movies and magazines in his own. I liked the show, and spent a long time staring at every part of it, and was happy it took up two floors of the gallery. The temperature of Wallace’s art is cool, and the feeling is academic, in the best of ways, I think. The artist makes his self-awareness, in terms of his artistic project, very apparent; there are very lengthy descriptions of his creative process printed out, in little cards on the wall, in most every room. Most artists I know aren’t so forthcoming, or so detailed.
I wish I could say that these very lengthy descriptions detracted from the overall success of Wallace’s exhibition, but they didn’t. His work needs the words. That’s OK.
Upstairs, on the third floor of the VAG, is simple and fabulous mayhem: “Traffic: Conceptual Art in Canada 1965-1980.” These videos and pictures and paintings and all sorts of things I cannot even describe are done by protesters and F students who don’t like how art is used to pacify our amuse … or to educate. Wonderful.