Ian Wallace

Street Floor Table Page
Wall Canvas
1969-2017
31 March - 13 May, 2017


After rejecting his late modernist painting practice of the 1960s, Ian Wallace embraced a "post-modern" turn to semiology and subject matter in his pioneering photoconceptual practice. Throughout the 1970s he created multiple series of large panoramic photographic works that featured narrative sequences of dramatic actions influenced by cinema theory. Since the early 1980s Ian Wallace’s hybrid artistic practice has integrated photography with painting by means of the lamination of photographic enlargements onto canvas.


In particular, it was the materiality of the canvas as a support or field that grounded the pictorial power of the photographic image and introduced a self-reflexive critique of the fabrication, medium and support of the artwork. The issue of process was at its centre, specifically what it is to fabricate an image and most importantly, what it means to make a picture in terms of a work of art.


A development of this self-conscious commentary on the making of a picture, represented within the imagery of the picture itself, has led Wallace to what is termed a 'mise en abyme', a mirroring of pictures within pictures that compounds the expressive dimension of the pictorial. It offers a web of complex referential links between each autonomous picture that has expanded his artistic project beyond the conceptual framework of any single work.


This occupies the lasting contradictions that have characterized the project of modernist art from the beginning: that of the tension that exists between the limits of the frame and the desire to transgress this frame and engage with those spaces beyond it, those concerns that we refer to as subject matter, and those spaces that are social, political and affective.


The positioning of field, or ground, or surface, or support as a signifying component that contributes to the complete meaning of the work extends past the stretched canvas of the easel painting, or the table, to the page, to the wall, to the floor, to the public space of the street.


Ian Wallace (b. 1943, Shoreham, UK) lives and works in Vancouver. Solo exhibitions include 'Abstract Paintings I-XII (The Financial District)', National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2015); 'Ian Wallace: At the Intersection of Painting and Photography', Vancouver Art Gallery (2012); 'The Economy of the Image', The Power Plant, Toronto (2010); 'A Literature of Images', Kunsthalle Zurich, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, and Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Dusseldorf (2008); 'The Clayoquot Protest (August 9, 1993)', Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver, Sprengel Museum, Hannover, and Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden (1995-1998). Group exhibitions include 'Recto Verso', Fondazione Prada, Milan (2015); 'Many Places at Once', CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2014); 'Traffic: Conceptual Art in Canada 1965-1980', Vancouver Art Gallery (2012); 'Exhibition, Exhibition', Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin (2010); 'UN COUP DE DÉS: Writing Turned Image. An Alphabet of Pensive Language', Generali Foundation, Vienna (2008); 'Les Peintres de la vie moderne', Musée national d’art moderne, Paris (2006); 'Intertidal: Vancouver Art and Artists', Museum van Hedendaase Kunst Antwerpen (2005); 'Jede Fotografie ein Bild', Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2004); 'Oh cet écho! (Duchampiana) 2', Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva; Notion of Conflict, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1995); 'Recent Acquisitions', Museum of Modern Art, New York (1995); 'Recent Acquisitions', Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1991).


A text by Ian Wallace published to coincide with the exhibition is available here.