A bit of art in Vancouver


I like going to art museums when visiting a city. It’s a good measure of the city’s cultural scene aside from music and theater. The Vancouver Art Gallery had two exhibitions. One was a show featuring Matisse, and another was a film by a Chinese artist, Yang Fudong.

Bird of Spring statue

I didn’t realize the exhibit featuring Matisse was not just about him but rather how two sister patrons amassed a collection of Modern Masters including works by Matisse. It was nice to see some paintings I’ve read about or familiar with based on the artists though I must admit that I found it frustrating going through the exhibit because there was a museum exhibit group that stood around the works of art and crowded the gallery.

Collecting Matisse

I decided to check out the rest of the museum and return later to the Matisse and Modern Masters exhibit later, and popped into the room that featured a film by Yang Fudong called Fifth Night. Below is an explanation about the film from his website.

“The Fifth Night” is a video installation composed of seven synchronized projections. The videos feature old Shanghai scenes, as a large décor with carriages, rickshaws and vintage cars. In the middle of the scene a stage has been built, a few jars with fishes have been placed on a table and a tramway is being frenetically repaired, illuminating the place. Vague views of people without any relationship are shown, anxious, hesitating men and women here and there attend to their own duties, a scene’s foreground can become next scene’s background; a shot is wide and narrative, while the other depicts some characters, this long screen of seven projections has more relief than if it was in 3D, and is more complete. Facing seven cameras, actors’ expressions in each objective and shot are uncontrollable; this kind of randomness presents a certain subtle and unpredictable aesthetic.

The idea behind this work came from a reflection on film production, and a new filming method was used for this video installation: seven projections, going far beyond our visual field and habits, Yang Fudong calls it “multiple views film”. The most important in the production of this work was the inspiration of the actors, as well as viewers’ feelings of the space, the artist unified this work by maneuvering its inner and external feelings.

Placed upon the horizon (casting shadow)

I genuinely enjoyed the film, which is a medium I normally don’t favor. What I enjoyed about the film was the period in which it was set and that it was filmed in black and white. I also liked the noir quality, which contributed to the mystery of the people and the story that was unfolding.

What I didn’t appreciate while at the museum was having to relinquish my camera at the coat check. I’ve never been to a museum where I’d had to hand over my camera to a museum. The usual policy is NO PHOTOGRAPHY in the galleries, which I have no issues following. Unfortunately, I had already paid for the ticket so I checked my camera with coat check. It did make me wonder why VAG decided to enact this policy of having cameras checked in.

Other than that, I enjoyed going through the museum. The area they call the Rotunda is quite pretty, and the skylight at the top lets in lots of natural light. It would have been nice to have taken a few photos of this particular space.

And while I hit the streets of Vancouver, I noticed these statues that are part of a series called Terracotta Warriors. These are similar to the statues that are scattered around the cities when I was in London 2010 with the elephants and even in NYC when there were painted cows. I only spotted a few and did my best to take photos of them when I did see them. Here are more photos of the Terracotta Warriors I encountered around Vancouver.

Twelve by Kathy Zhang


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