Everything Should be Made as Simple as Possible, but not Simpler

/ Opening

The title comes from a text from 1970 by Dore Ashton, art critic of the abstract expressionist moment and vehement opponent of minimalist and conceptualist practices. In her view, aesthetic criteria were abandoned as a result of these practices that succeeded the painterly abstraction of the 1950s. Today the skeletal aesthetics of minimalism and conceptual art provide the most prevalent source of art historical references that appear in contemporary art. But this referencing is a far cry from the modernist belief in an aesthetic program, and can be seen as polemically built into the works of art exhibited. One could say that the aesthetic and the subject matter are problems with a-parallel trajectories that are brought together in the artwork in order to illuminate each other. This exhibition explores this dual dialogue in which a range of subject matters (social, political, etc.) are inflected with art historical archetypes. Curated by Juan Gaitan

Artist Biographies

Abbas Akhavan was born in Tehran, Iran, has been living in Canada for the last thirteen years. He completed his BFA (honours) at Concordia University, MFA (2006) at UBC. His artistic practice covers a variety of mediums: including painting, drawing, installation, video/performance, and site-specific ephemeral works. His latest visual works are informed by food and conviviality. In recent projects he has taken to feeding his audiences cannibal cakes, insulating gallery walls with cotton candy, painting with Ketchup, and drinking large quantities of gin. He teaches at Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design and the University of British Columbia.

Arabella Campbell is a Vancouver based artist whose work examines formal, material and institutional structures. Past projects include a painting series that attempts to replicate (from memory) the shades of white wall paint used by three art institutions, and an indoor/outdoor site-specific work of three large monochromatic paintings that were mirrored by three corresponding de-sodded “monochromes” in the lawn outside the gallery. Campbell’s work has been shown locally and internationally since her graduation from Emily Carr Institute in 2002. Exhibitions include York Gallery, York, UK, 2008; Thomas Dane Gallery, London, 2007; Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon, 2007; Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver, 2007 and 2005; Vancouver Art Gallery, 2006 and 2004; Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver, 2006; and Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver, 2002.

Juan A. Gaitán is a Vancouver based art historian and curator. His research interests are the Americas in the post-War period, religious monuments in the early middle ages, and contemporary art. He is a PhD candidate in art history at the University of British Columbia and is the co-curator of Exponential Future at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery.

Antonia Hirsch is a Vancouver-based artist who has participated in group exhibitions in Canada, Europe and Asia, including Altered States at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (2006) and Concrete Language at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver (2006). Among recent solo exhibitions were shows at Gallery 101, Ottawa (2007), the Charles H. Scott Gallery (2006) and Artspeak Gallery (2003) in Vancouver, the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery (2003) and Gallery 44 in Toronto (2001). In 2004, she was awarded the Canada Council Studio at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Her work can be found in collections such as that of the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Canada Council Art Bank and the Sackner Archive of Concrete & Visual Poetry, Miami Beach. Hirsch has written for various publications including, most recently, The Fillip Review, C magazine, and artecontexto. Her current works include a public art commission for the new campus of the Vancouver Community College to be inaugurated in the fall of 2008.

Paul Kajander often makes use of humour and provisional materials as means of critique. These devices are employed in works that venture a subjective response to the alienating conditions of contemporary experience. His research-oriented practice makes use of literature, philosophy, popular culture and autobiography as starting points in the development of projects that aim to challenge the means-ends rationalism so pervasive under dominant ideologies. His work has been shown extensively, most recently at the Belkin Satellite, Vancouver; 2006 Wight Biennial, Los Angeles; Sign Gallery, Aoyama, Japan; Access Artist Run Centre and the Helen Pitt. He is the 2006 recepient of the B.C. Binning Drawing Fellowship.

Sara Mameni. Born 29/03/1977; debts $50000 (and growing); Prone to severe motion sickness aboard ships, boats, cars, and even swings. Dislikes telephones and wonders if artist biographies were invented to annoy everyone.