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Contemporary Art Gallery

555 Nelson Street
Vancouver, Canada
Open from Tuesday to
Sunday 12 pm → 6 pm

Admission always free
15 Jan 87until31 Jan 87

James Graham


555 Hamilton St

A scanned exhibition invitation. It is a long horizontal rectangle with a plain white background and contains information including the artist name, the dates and gallery address in black text.

A foiled attempt. Wrapped in foil. Act as a foil. The word conjures up three definitions. The show of the same name at the Contemporary Art Gallery is another matter. James Graham's exhibition titled, foil, is confusing in its interpretation. Graham positions three slide projectors in the gallery so that each throws an image covering the span of two walls. With one slide repeated from each projector alternating with the others, the space is at times lit by the image, at other times by the light from the projector. Resting against two walls are convex wooden panels painted slate grey. Their surface is slightly luminescent and bears the most overt relationship to the word, foil.

The slides are difficult to translate, as they are distorted down to the length of the gallery. It's clear that the images are appropriated from the front pages of newspapers. But we as viewers are foiled in our ability to read the text in the slides. It does not appear that we are supposed to be able to read the words.

The show can be seen in a linguistic old dissection of a word, manifested visually. It has a potential elegance in its pared-down simplicity that somehow eludes the viewing experience. The references to deconstruction and appropriation, hallmarks of postmodernism, are there. but they are obfuscated beyond meaning. The show, while serene-looking, ends up being an exercise in frustration.