A major multi-part new installation revolving around a newly commissioned suite of twelve large-scale photo-lamination paintings titled, Abstract Paintings I–XII (The Financial District).

Curated by Gregory Burke

With a career spanning over four decades, renowned Vancouver artist Ian Wallace has examined the aesthetic and social legacies of modernism through a wide range innovative and conceptually rigorous installation, performance, painting, and photographic practices. His keen knowledge of art history and critical theory, and his ongoing commitment to experimentation with new technologies have resulted in a distinctive approach to the genres of still life, history painting and street photography.

Alongside American artist Pae White, Ian Wallace is the most recent participant in the Commissioning Program of The Power Plant. Premiering at a time when the international currency of his practice is burgeoning, Wallace’s commission is a major multi-part new work revolving around a suite of large-scale photo-lamination paintings entitled Abstract Paintings I–XII (The Financial District). These paintings reference photographs taken by the artist in the heart of Canada’s most important financial district, emanating from the intersection of Wellington and Bay Streets in downtown Toronto. With this highly significant site-specific project, Wallace reflects on the context of Toronto (as previous commissioned artists have before him) in a manner that will resonate both nationally and internationally.

Over the years Wallace has undertaken several series focused on the street, drawing on photographs of individuals at busy urban intersections or crosswalks, urban environments where the legacies of modernism play out, for example, in the architecture of looming corporate towers. In Wallace’s paintings, these representational scenes of the photographic are juxtaposed with opaque, textured colour – planes reminiscent of modernist abstract painting.

The commissioned paintings will be contextualized by new ink-jet prints of key works from 1970 Pan-Am Scan and Street Reflections, as well as sculptural “concept pieces” from 1969–1970 that will inhabit the gallery’s floor. The work on view demonstrates Wallace’s continued interest in questions of pictorial representation, the photographic image and the depiction of everyday social life that have run through his work since the 1970s. They have exerted a powerful influence on generations of artists – including such key figures as Jeff Wall and Rodney Graham – both in Canada and beyond.

Ian Wallace (born in Shoreham, UK, 1943) has been exhibiting since the late 1960s and is one of Canada’s most respected senior artists. As a teacher at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design from 1972 to 1998, Wallace has contributed to the development of contemporary Canadian art for over forty years. In 2004 he received the Governor General’s Award in Visual Arts and in 2009 he received the Molson Prize, both from the Canada Council for the Arts. A three-part survey of his work was held at Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen in Düsseldorf, Witte de With in Rotterdam and Kunsthalle Zurich in 2008, and a retrospective will open at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2012. Ian Wallace is represented by Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver.

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