Robert Kleyn: Works 1969–1983

20 May–25 June 2011

Robert Kleyn

Catri­ona Jef­fries Gallery is pleased to announce an exhi­bi­tion of ear­ly art­works (1969 – 1983) made between Van­cou­ver and Rome by the Van­cou­ver-based artist Robert Kleyn. Span­ning pho­tog­ra­phy, 35mm slides, Super 8 film, col­lage and works on paper, the works in the exhi­bi­tion present Kleyn’s dis­tinct per­spec­tive and sub­ver­sion of con­cep­tu­al art strate­gies cir­cu­lat­ing inter­na­tion­al­ly through­out the 1970s.

While study­ing archi­tec­ture in the late 1960s at the Uni­ver­si­ty of British Colum­bia, Kleyn was intro­duced to Rod­ney Gra­ham, Ian Wal­lace and oth­er artists asso­ci­at­ed with the uni­ver­si­ty at the time, as well as becom­ing aware of the infor­ma­tion and land­scape ori­en­tat­ed con­cep­tu­al art­works of the N.E. Thing Com­pa­ny. In 1972 Kleyn, along with a num­ber of his peers, researched and pro­duced the book ‘Archi­tec­ture of the Fras­er Val­ley’, which has now become a key tax­on­o­my of local archi­tec­tur­al ver­nac­u­lar. Dur­ing this peri­od, Kleyn pro­duced the ear­li­est works in the exhi­bi­tion, a series of line rub­bing works on paper and draw­ings with scotch tape, which mark the begin­nings of the artic­u­la­tion of his own aes­thet­ic sys­tems using avail­able and con­ve­nient struc­tur­al arma­tures, such as the roll of film, the slide carousel and the reel of super 8, as well as exist­ing visu­al arma­tures such as the still life and pan. His series of pho­to­graph­ic sequences of book throws were made at this time, an exam­ple of Kleyn’s epis­te­mo­log­i­cal humour, as well as ‘Stills from a tape to be erased’ (1973) a key work which artic­u­lates the artist’s use of repho­tog­ra­phy, where the trans­fer­ral from one medi­um to anoth­er enables priv­i­leg­ing the idea over the form.

In 1975 Kleyn moved to Rome, where he con­tin­ued to make art along­side work­ing with­in art direc­tion in the Ital­ian film indus­try, par­tic­u­lar­ly with Rober­to Rosselli­ni. Through­out this peri­od Kleyn pro­duced his series of still lives, present in the exhi­bi­tion in the slide sequence Tab­u­la Rasa and the pho­to­graph­ic sequences Lemon Table and Orange Dis­sec­tion (all 1976). The artist con­tin­ued in his onto­log­i­cal use of the cam­era via his pan works, be them of hotel ceil­ings while loca­tion scout­ing in Tunisia, his own desk, or the sky. Kleyn con­tin­u­al­ly worked with the for­mat of the slide less so to pro­duce an image but more out of an inter­est in its mate­r­i­al capac­i­ty as pro­ject­ed light, it’s abil­i­ty to project one object onto anoth­er and the inher­ent sequen­tial pos­si­bil­i­ties with­in its dis­play, such as in the key work Cor­ners (1975–76). Dra­ma and the uncon­scious sat­u­rate works such as Dream Drown­ing (1977)and Faqir (1976), while the cor­po­re­al close-up in Fix­a­tion (1974) the eye is con­sid­ered at the split sec­ond instant of rev­e­la­tion to the neg­a­tive and vice ver­sa at the moment of tak­ing a pho­to­graph. Over the course of three decades the artist main­tained a box of index cards, each card rep­re­sent­ing ideas via instruc­tions, sketch­es and col­lages. A selec­tion of these cards is dis­played in the exhi­bi­tion, indi­cat­ing to the qua­si-per­func­to­ry action of the for­mal real­iza­tion of the works them­selves. Kleyn spent most of the 1980s liv­ing in New York, extend­ing his ideas into video and sculp­ture. Since the ear­ly 90s he has been based in Van­cou­ver prac­tic­ing both as an artist and archi­tect.

Robert Kleyn (b. 1948) was born in Ams­ter­dam and cur­rent­ly lives and works in Van­cou­ver. Through­out the 1970s his work was includ­ed in exhi­bi­tions at the Van­cou­ver Art Gallery; Pen­der Street Gallery, Van­cou­ver; Cen­tro di, Roma; Mod­ern Art Agency, Napoli and Con­tem­po­ranea, Roma. His work has also been includ­ed in group exhi­bi­tions at the Gal­le­ria Nazionale d’Arte Mod­er­na, Rome (1980); Cabaret, White Columns, New York (1983); Art & Social Con­scious­ness, Bard Col­lege, New York (1984); Gra­ham, Kleyn, Wall, Wal­lace, Stu­dio Casoli, Milan (1989); Van­cou­ver in the 70’s, Van­cou­ver Art Gallery (1989). Kleyn has had solo exhi­bi­tions at the Cana­di­an Cul­tur­al Cen­tre, Rome (1988) and the Belkin Satel­lite, Van­cou­ver (2004) and his work was includ­ed in the recent exhi­bi­tion ‘We: Van­cou­ver 12 Man­i­festos for the City’, Van­cou­ver Art Gallery (2011). In 1993 he curat­ed the exhi­bi­tion ‘Beneath the Paving Stones’ at the Charles H Scott Gallery and as a writer has con­tributed texts to Some Detached Hous­es (1993) and Ian Wal­lace: Images (1989).

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion or press enquires please con­tact Catri­ona Jef­fries or Anne Low at +1 604 736 1554.