Exhibit: Douglas Coupland mixed-media at VAG, vol. 5 (cityscapes)

Cityscape of blocks
this project was crowd-sourced where folks built disparate parts, and DC assembled into a common aesthetic of a familiar architecture language

Evidence from mixed-media master Douglas Coupland’s exhibit at Vancouver Art Gallery – the assortment of items i captured from the wide-array of mediums he works with/in, are arranged into 7 volumes for convenience. This is volume 5, Cityscapes (my title, not his).

Rather dystopian cityscape
this dystopian cityscape look idyllic at first until you see catastrophe and impending danger everywhere

The survey exhibition of Douglas Coupland‘s diverse art at the Vancouver Art Gallery during Summer 2014’s was really kind of a big deal for me.

As someone who works in many medium – though primarily a writer (I think) – seeing his work from books to sculptures to silkscreened slogans to paintings and various other art on substrates to collections of seemingly random yet somehow interrelated artifacts was reassuring to me that one can be a polymath and excel in many disciplines, and do so with courageous experimentation and whimsy.

I especially enjoyed seeing his archival notebooks displayed as a “art piece” in their own right. Indeed, I am rather obsessive about my notebooks, journals, scrapbooks and have gathered and collected items – from ephemera to snippets of poetry to logistics – since I was a wee lad. I keep all of these dossiers inventoried in a storage locker in hopes one day they will be relevant or useful to someone else besides me. Actually, I don’t really care about the anyone else, I keep them for my own amusement and reference.

Another aspect I loved was seeing him “remixing” paintings by the noted Canadian Group at Seven. I’m especially intrigued by Frederick Varley, the “Bohemian“ of the Group and someone i’ve written about extensively (specifically his time in Vancouver). Seeing Mr. Coupland and Mr. Varley’s works side-by-side gave me an opportunity to ruminate about how we all build cartoons on the shoulders of someone else and have implied permission interpret themes and designs to fit our contemporary circumstances and present ideas in a new context.

What follows are snapshots from Coupland‘s explicit-stated photography encouraged exhibit called “Everywhere Is Anywhere Is Anything Is Everything”. The following volumes are loosely compiled from amongst assembled snapshots I happened to take. Keep in mind, there was plenty more goodness in this exhibit, this is just what I happened to capture. Artifacts are presented here for my own amusement and reference but you’re welcome to “look over my shoulder”.

PS A few “meta“ items are included to add a bit of “colour commentary” to the collection.

Towers of blocks and items
these blocks are not randomly placed – read the transmission
Rows of houses
houses, rows of houses – look close to see minor (perhaps unintentional) disparities

Museum blurb:

“Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything” is the first major museum exhibition of the artist’s work and will be presented at the Vancouver Art Gallery from May 31 – September 1, 2014. Deftly capturing the spirit of the age—or, as the artist refers to it, “the 21st century condition”—Douglas Coupland’s ideas are often encountered on the written page. But the themes he explores in his writing have appeared in his artwork as early as the 1980s when he was a student at the Emily Carr College of Art & Design. In this survey of Coupland’s work, we encounter his incisive social analysis in a variety of forms including installation, painting, photography, prints, sculpture, quilts and wallpaper. His synthesis of contemporary events, popular culture, new technologies and art historical references―that range from the paintings of Emily Carr and the Group of Seven to the Pop sensibility of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein―resists an identifiable style. By incorporating everyday materials and objects and referencing images that have become culturally iconic, he probes the way that things, images and processes of contemporary life affect our understanding of the world around us.

Whatcha think?