Ian Wallace

Since 1965, Ian Wallace (b. 1943, Shoreham, England; lives/works: Vancouver) has been active as an exhibiting artist, writer, and educator. He has been an influential figure in the development of an internationally acknowledged photographic and conceptual approach to artistic practice. Wallace uses photography and painting to investigate the relationship between these and other media, with a focus on the production of narrative, cinematic, literary, and otherwise.

A photojournalistic investigation of the urban and suburban landscape persists from his early photography to his recent painting. For example, Street Reflections (1970–2007), captures a scene where the street meets its reflection in a glass storefront in five consecutive shots. Similarly, in Construction Site (The Tower) II, 2015, the mirrored façade of a condo building confuses what is real and what is reflected, in a photolaminate print which operates as an image caught in a field of hard-edge geometric abstraction.

This focus in Wallace’s work grew out of his interest in the Constructivist movement in the Russian avant-garde in the early twentieth century and their optimistic concepts of the central role of art and architecture in the construction of the new world. The motif of construction and construction sites also has a direct relationship to the concept of a “work in progress”—that the everyday landscape of the modern city is a world produced, “in progress,” and unfinished, just as a work of art is produced and may exhibit its fabrication. Emphasizing production, for Wallace, is a way to unravel the latent forces that shape the world we live in.

After graduating with a Master’s degree in Art History from the University of British Columbia, Wallace taught art history at the university from 1967 to 1970, and then at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design from 1972 to 1998. In 2014, he was awarded the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. In 2013, Wallace was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada, and was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2004, he was the recipient of the Governor General’s Award for the Visual Arts.

Wallace has presented numerous international solo exhibitions, including at Greta Meert, Brussels (2022); Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver (2021); Parra & Romero, Madrid (2019); the Rennie Collection at Wing Sang, Vancouver (2017); National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2015); Vancouver Art Gallery (2012, 1988–9, 1979); The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto (2010); Kunsthalle Zurich, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, and Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Dusseldorf (2008); Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver, Sprengel Museum, Hannover, and Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden (1995–1998). He has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including Museum der Moderne, Salzburg (2022); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2022); Sprengel Museum Hannover (2021); Parra & Romero, Madrid (2020); Kunsthalle Wien (2018); Fondazione Prada, Milan (2015); CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2014); Vancouver Art Gallery (2012); Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin (2010); Generali Foundation, Vienna (2008); Musée national d’art moderne, Paris (2006); Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (2005); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2004); Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1995); Museum of Modern Art, New York (1995); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1991).