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.