The Gallery is CLOSED due to COVID-19.

Dwelling: People and Place

Opens September 27th, 2019

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This exhibit explores figures and structures, how each of these effects and alters the other. A single or group of figures, or lack thereof, alters a place and in exchange the place has an effect on these bodies. The traces and evidence created by the relationship of habitation become the objects of interest and inquiry for artistic expression.

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Reframed: Painting and Collage by Tiko Kerr

Curated by Meredith Preuss | Produced by The Smith Foundation

May 8th - August 30th 2019

Opening Reception & Book Launch, Saturday, May 25, 2019 2 – 3 pm

Tiko Kerr in Conversation with Dorothy Barenscott, 3 – 4pm

Reframed features new work by Tiko Kerr. Throughout his more than 30 year-long career, Kerr has explored the concept of perception through painting. His most recent works continue along this line of inquiry while drawing on images from art history and popular culture to explore the contemporary moment of widespread unrest and trauma. The distinctive wobbly style he developed and honed with his past work has been left behind and in its place is a deft handling of historically expressionist painterly styles, re-contextualized for today’s social and political climate.

Often beginning as paper collages cut from modernist artists’ monographs and interspersed with personal ephemera, Kerr’s paintings rely on a pop mentality in their irreverent mashups of high and low culture. At once uncannily familiar and strikingly contemporary, his mixed media approach interpolates his diverse influences to produce paintings that echo the political urgency of his forebears in a style all his own. Reworked and repeatedly recontextualized using an automatic sensibility, Kerr at times layers collaged digital prints of his earlier paintings or hand cut swaths of painted canvas with fresh brushstrokes to generate new compositions. In other instances he situates evocative patterning and bold abstracted still lifes within disorienting depth of field and figure ground relationships. The resulting paintings are as introspectively self-referential as they are influenced by the art historical cannon.

With a light hand and a poetic tone, the exhibition will systematically explore the various methodologies Kerr has adopted in his new body of work, while situating that work within a broader context of painting in Canada. It will also refer to it’s own context: a gallery outside of the centre of the city and a self-taught artist who doesn’t tightly fit into the few movements Vancouver artists are best known for.

With these concerns in mind, the exhibition’s programming will be produced in consultation with Minneapolis Institute of Art’s new Centre for Empathy in the Visual Arts to adopt new research and strategies around empathy and its role in exhibition viewership. The plan is twofold: to feature an exhibition comprised of work that is deeply felt by both the artist and the viewer, and to use that exhibition as a dynamic forum for new practices in exhibition programming to help encourage the growth and maintenance of a healthy community.



Selected works from the AFK Collection

September 28, 2018 – April 13, 2019

Transformations is an arrangement of artworks that depict or speak to a process of change. A simple search to define the word "transformation" yields many results: there are uses in science and mathematics, in the visual and performing arts, in business and economics and in politics and culture. "Transformation" has similarities in all of its applications as well as nuanced differences. At its core, "transformation" refers to a process of change. In the selection of these artworks, questions around the transformation of body, time and language are addressed. The artwork displayed speaks to this central idea of change both individually and in concert with the other works around it.


13 Ways to Summon Ghosts

May 16, 2018 to September 4, 2018

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Haunting might be described as an animated state in which an unresolved condition or event makes itself known. It is one way we are notified that what’s been concealed – or forgotten – is very much alive and present. In our contemporary culture of disposability, proliferation and excess, grappling as we are with the legacies of colonialism, with so many suppressed histories of dispossession and silencing, we might ask what artists, and art itself, can do? How can art, to reframe a question posed by renowned American sociologist Avery Gordon, reckon with all that modern history has rendered ghostly?

This exhibition considers the work of thirteen Canadian artists of diverse origins and experience, for whom haunting, it might be argued, is an artistic strategy. Through works of sound, sculpture, installation, painting, garments, print, and video, these artists alter our experience of being in time; they challenge the ways we separate past, present, and future.

Memory • History • Story

September 29, 2017 to April 27, 2018

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AFK's 2017-2018 teaching exhibition was a celebration of the first people of our country. 

Memory • History • Story is an exploration of our indigenous artists, their perspectives and voices, through the lens of First People's Principles of Learning. The exhibition supports teachers in the indigenization of the curriculum as they explore the First People’s Principles of Learning, which reflect a respectful and holistic approach to teaching and learning.

The exhibit also includes the on-site carving of a welcome pole by master carver K’na’kweltn~ Darren Yelton. 

“This is one of the most important teaching exhibitions in our history,” says Yolande Martinello, Director of Artists for Kids. “Seeing the work of our first people, and their perspective on their experience provides an essential aspect to understanding the true scale, scope and story of our country."

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This exhibition brings together pieces from Aboriginal and Inuit artists from the AFK permanent collection, including George Littlechild, Jane Ash Poitras, Xwalacktun, Kenojuak Ashevak, Robert Davidson, Beau Dick and others. 

Works in the exhibition include sculpture, textile, cedar carvings and weavings, as well as two-dimensional works, for a collection that inspires learning in our young people and understanding in our visitors. 

Art School High

 May 13th to August 26, 2017


From May 13th to August 26, 2017, the Smith Foundation presented Art School High at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. The exhibition explores socio-cultural issues relating to identity, adolescence, conformity, marginalization, and rebellious behaviours. Invited artists have made significant works reflecting on the experience of attending high school. These works probe the very nature of learning in diverse environments.

This exhibition is a unique opportunity to explore visual responses by important artists to the depths & quirks of the grade 9 to grade 12 years. Schooling may have made us who we are, but it has also been a source of serious anxieties - and for many, a time of traumatic experiences​.

Curated by Patrik Andersson, participating artists include Karin Bubaš, John Collins, Rodney Graham, Scott Livingstone, Ken Lum, Kyla Mallet, Jean MacRae, Shannon Oksanen, Kathy Slade, Ron Terada, Neil Wedman and David Wisdom — all artists who have made significant work that reflect on the high school experience. 

[Ab-stak-shuh n]: the art and the act

 September 30th, 2016 to April 21st, 2017

Across Canada abstract art developed uniquely in various geographic regions from the 1920s until present day. Many of Canada's founding abstract artists – Paul-Emile Borduas, Jack Bush and Gordon Smith – were trained formally in representational art techniques. However, they found the play and exploration of medium and technique in abstract art "not only more satisfying, but also more challenging."[1] Canadian artists took inspiration for their abstraction from sources as varied as the Canadian Landscape, figures and portraits, and the elements and principles of design.

The impetus of this show has very practical roots. In looking through the AFK collection we asked ourselves, what can we teach to grade fours, fives and sixes in a four-hour session? The objectives of this exhibition are: inspiring potential future artists, encouraging students pride and confidence in their art, and aligning elements from BC's new curriculum of process, play, inquiry, and exploration. Abstract art achieves all of these requirements.



 May 5th, 2016 to August 20th, 2016

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This Summer’s exhibition is titled Readymades. Curated by Bill Jeffries, with artists chosen by Gordon Smith, it includes works by Arabella Campbell, Douglas Coupland, Stan Douglas, Gathie Falk, Geoffrey Farmer, Rodney Graham, Brian Jungen, Damian Moppett, Mina Totino, Ian Wallace and David Weir.

The Readymades exhibition was suggested by Gordon Smith. The impact that the 1962 Assemblage exhibition at MOMA had on Gordon Smith was revived when he saw the Duchamp show at Gagosian (New York) in 2014. Gordon transformed that experience into the notion that a group exhibition on the subject of the readymade would allow viewers a chance to reconsider the idea of the readymade in the context of local artistic practices.

At What Cost?: Optimists, Pessimists, Nearby and Far Away

September 25th, 2015 to April 16th, 2016

Artists have long been intrigued by the idea of picturing their environment. This exercise might take the form of a straightforward landscape study, or a more complicated consideration of the risks to oneself or the world. This exhibition, drawing works from the Artists for Kids Teaching Collection, seeks to explore the many ways in which artists reflect their environments, natural or fabricated. By looking at this art, we might begin to contemplate our own surroundings, searching for parallels and contrasts. Some of these works urge us to celebrate our environment, some might inspire fear for it, and still more might introduce us to a detail that we have not yet seen. In some cases, the artists have tried to capture the vastness of our world, while others have sought to contain it. The title asks us to examine the extent to which we are willing to risk our environment and ourselves.

Guest Curator: Dr. Hilary Letwin

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Robert Davidson: Progression of Form

May 22, 2015 to August 30th, 2015

RobertDavidson_InstilationShot.JPGRobert Davidson: Progression of Form is a solo exhibition of the work of internationally-renowned Canadian artist, Robert Davidson. "Robert Davidson is one of British Columbia's leading artists and has made, and continues to make major contributions to contemporary art in the province.  Working as a printmaker, sculptor, painter and singer, he has expanded and enriched our understanding of Haida culture, both historically and in the contemporary world.  His work as a mentor to younger artists has also been transformative and this mentorship will be an important part of the exhibition. It has been a decade since Robert Davidson had a solo exhibition in the lower Mainland and this exhibition promises to be an exciting contribution to the summer of 2015, as well as providing important educational opportunities. Davidson never fails to produce provocative and original work of the highest quality, using his enormous skills as a draughtsman and carver to excellent advantage.  This exhibition will provide the public with an opportunity to see the work of one of our great artists." Ian M. Thom, CM, Guest Curator, Senior Curator Vancouver Art Gallery. 

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October 22nd, 2014 to May 2nd, 2015

As long as people have drawn, the figure has always been an essential subject of study. In this exhibit, visitors can see how Canadian artists have described their thoughts on the figure and the change, creation or discovery of identity.  The Gallery is divided into several sub-themes, exploring the politics of the figure, the performance of identity, the presence or absence of the figure, and everyday life.

Artists included in this exhibition are Ed Burtynsky, Rodney Graham, Angela Grossmann, Gu Xiong, Karin Bubas, Gathie Falk, Jane Ash Poitras, Irene Whittome, Attila Richard Lukacs and those in the Vancouver School Collection.

Gu Xiong: a journey exposed

May 2014 to August 2014

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This summer, the Gordon Smith Gallery is hosting a solo exhibition of the work of internationally- renowned Canadian artist and UBC Professor, Gu Xiong. The exhibition will feature Xiong's large-scale drawings, prints, paintings, photographs and installation work from 1993 to 2014, which discuss worldwide interconnectivity while examining the effects of globalization on our cultural relations, political understandings, water safety and worldwide food production. Xiong has created a new installation piece for this exhibition, "A Pigs River" which involved hundreds of students and community members from across the lower mainland in the production of the installation's sculptural details.

At the Water's Edge

September 2013 to April 2014

Marking the start of our second year in our new home, At the Water’s Edge exhibition is created from the Artists for Kids permanent collection. For those like us who live at the water’s edge, the lure of the beach and the sound of the waves is a constant in our lives. Water holds a fascination that is universal. Everyone has a connection to water, a memory of travelling on or near it, a love or a fear of its power.

Environment and landscape influence many artists in their work, which in turn inspired this exhibition. At the Water’s Edge includes work from Jack Shadbolt, E. J. Hughes, Gordon Smith, Greg Murdock, Takao Tanabe and Ross Penhall. These artists are drawn by their proximity to water and coastal regions to represent these landscapes in their paintings. Whether residing in the Arctic or on one of the two coastal zones of Canada, these works show the variation of the geography in this great land.

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Collection, Connection and the Making of Meaning

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The “Collection, Connection and the Making of Meaning” show will feature works from our permanent collection selected by art critic/writer and curator Robin Laurence for their unique perspective on the theme of collecting.  The exhibition speaks to our own collection through the lens of several themes that recur through the permanent collection and are reflected in it; landscapes, animals, portraits and figures, interiors and still lifes, and abstractions.

A publication was launched alongside this exhibition.

Introducing our Patrons: Inaugural Exhibition at the ESC Building

October 13, 2012 to April 2013



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