Our Exhibits

The Vancouver Art Gallery presents exhibitions of work by artists ranging from historic masters to leading-edge contemporaries. These include major thematic exhibitions, presentations of solo artists and smaller, more focused showcases. In a typical year, 2 to 3 exhibitions are borrowed from other institutions and 10 to 12 exhibitions are developed in-house, drawing on our permanent collection and loans of works from around the world. In addition, the Gallery tours a few of its exhibitions each year.

Current Exhibitions

The Persistence of the Real

June 12 to September 27

Babak Golkar
From Africa to the Americas (including To Cubism), 2014
chromogenic print, wood, stain
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery
Purchased with the proceeds from the Audain Emerging Artists Acquisition Fund
Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery

Stan Douglas
Luanda-Kinshasa, 2013 (still)
single-channel video projection
Courtesy of the Artist, David Zwirner, New York/London and Victoria Miro, London

Robert Burley
Implosions of Building 65 and 69,
Kodak Park, Rochester, New York (#2)
, 2007
ink jet print mounted on dibond
Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery

Lectures | Talks | Events
Sat, Sept 19, 3pm | Lecture*

Within the visual arts, as well as in literature and philosophy, the term realism has been widely frowned upon since the post-World War Two era. Realism has often seemed to be at odds with what art is expected to accomplish in modern and "post-modern" paradigms in which its role was to contest rather than reproduce or directly reflect reality. Realism has been held up to scorn for its perceived attachment to linguistic transparency – the sense that an image can reveal the full truth of the situation or object it depicts. As the German playwright Bertolt Brecht famously noted some seventy years ago, a photograph of the exterior of a factory tells us next to nothing about the factory as an institution or the human relations embodied within it. This scepticism toward the truth or objectivity of the image was extended in the late 20th century with the rise of conceptual art and the development of critiques which proposed that, in a world pervaded with spectacular images, the task of the artist should be to deconstruct the systems through which images flow and provide critical considerations of the ways images act upon us.

Residue: The Persistence of the Real features recent work in photography, video and film by Canadian and American artists Robert Burley, Stan Douglas, Babak Golkar, Geoffrey James, Brian Jungen & Duane Linklater, Catherine Opie and Amie Siegel. Although these challenges to the truth value of the image, along with the proliferation of digital imaging technologies, may have changed the way we perceive "realist" imagery, interest in work that describes the world has persisted and even expanded in terms of artists' production and in terms of interest on the part of gallery-going audiences. The most evident indication of this is the shift in the status of photography, which has been transformed from a secondary medium to one that is equally, or perhaps more highly, valued than traditional media like painting or sculpture.

Residue: The Persistence of the Real is comprised of work that draws upon a documentary impulse and pursues the real as something that cannot be entirely reduced to representation, while at the same time acknowledging the mediating character of the mechanisms that shape perception. The exhibition is not intended to be a survey of this approach to artmaking, but rather as a presentation of recent work by about nine artists, from Vancouver and elsewhere, in which meaning is amplified through the proximity of the different bodies of work. The exhibition includes work in a variety of media including photography, video and installation works.

Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Grant Arnold, Audain Curator of British Columbia Art.

Generously Supported by:
Lisa and Terrence Turner
Bruce M. Wright

Additional Support:

Visionary Partner for Scholarship and Publications:
The Richardson Family