Vancouver Art Gallery
MashUp is the latest and largest exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The massive show is a comprehensive survey of the most important artists from the past century, based around the theme of mash-up. A mash-up is the simple process of combining existing things to create something new. This exhibit traces the process from its humble origins in the collages of Pablo Picasso, to its ubiquitous influence on culture through art, photography, film, music, dance, architecture, fashion, graphic design and much more.
It’s a big undertaking for a mid-sized gallery like the VAG, but the quaint courthouse has been transformed into a space that could compete with New York’s Museum of Modern Art. For anyone not able to fly out to NY soon, this is the best chance to see work by many of modern art’s biggest names. Warhol, Haring, Koons and Basquiat are just some of the 156 creators represented in the gallery.
The show isn’t just for art fans; there is a little something for everyone: Quentin Tarantino for the cinephiles, Brian Eno for the audiophiles and Maison Martin Margiela for the fashionistas. Savvy Vancouverites may recognize the Bjarke Ingles Group, or BIG, the architectural studio behind the upcoming Vancouver House highrise. There is Tobi Wong, a Vancouver-born designer and artist who has created work for Prada and Swarovski. Native Art is represented as well with Brian Jungen, an Emily Carr grad who transforms Nike Air Jordans into traditional Aboriginal masks.
The crown jewel of the exhibit is the installation by Barbara Kruger in the rotunda, commissioned specifically for the show. The installation stays true to the show’s concept, remixing the classical, white marbled staircase with Kruger’s signature, bold typography and mischievous emojis. Black and white striped walls packed with nonsensical rhymes fill the space and dramatically welcome viewers into the show. It also makes a pretty great place to take a selfie.
While the 316 artworks are spread out on all four floors, each for an era in modern culture, the sheer size of the exhibit is still overwhelming. The gallery’s traditional white box rooms have been bisected with new walls and installations, creating an endless array of spaces. With so many crooks and crannies to discover, the exhibit calls for multiple visits to really take it in.
MashUp runs Feb. 19 to May 15. For gallery times, artist talks and additional events, visit Vanartgallery.bc.ca.
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