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Contemporary Art Gallery

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

Admission always free
24 Jul 20until3 Jan 21

Julian Yi-Zhong Hou

Grass Drama

CAG Façade

A patterned print. The pattern has a green background; is made of rows of pink and blue diamond-like shapes. The blue shapes have a yellow rope-like shape in the middle. White lines connect each row.

Julian Yi-Zhong Hou, Hypnagogic tectonic (detail), 2018. Courtesy of Unit 17 and the artist.

Julian Hou’s practice is expansive and roving. He draws from a rich field of influences: contemporary psychedelia and diverse spiritual traditions, various musical and architectural vernaculars, Orientalist motifs, along with deep memories (and misrememberings) from his own diasporic childhood. Grass Drama, Hou’s first solo exhibition in a major public gallery, manifests as a vinyl record, a one-night performance and a suite of printed patterns hung in the gallery’s façade. Developed out of a two-year sensitivity training undertaken by Hou, involving practices from divination to expanded states of consciousness, Grass Drama’s creation was foretold by a Thoth tarot card reading and informs its narrative structure. These cards share a history with Chinese playing cards and early 20th-century Western spiritual philosophy, Hermetic Thelemism, which in turn has connections to Buddhism. In Grass Drama, Hou both connects and proposes a means of bridging discontinuities while considering notions of site, context, politics, history and personal references. The works ask those who experience them to discard conventional, waking logic and allow affinities between unlikely things to find one another.

Curated by Kimberly Phillips with assistance from Julia Lamare


Julian Yi-Zhong Hou was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Treaty 6 territory, and currently lives in Vancouver, on the land of the Coast Salish peoples–Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. His work has been the focus of solo and group exhibitions at, Toronto; 8-eleven, Toronto; Artspeak, Vancouver; and the Vancouver Art Gallery. His most recent work, Grass Drama, has been shown in parts at Cassandra Cassandra, Toronto (2019); Unit 17, Vancouver (2018); and in Charcuterie 4 (2018), and is a spin-off of an ongoing collaborative work with Tiziana La Melia titled Cloudcuckooville. Further parts will be exhibited this year at Malaspina Printmakers, Vancouver. Hou holds a Bachelor of Arts in Arts and Cultural Studies from Simon Fraser University and a Masters in Architecture from the University of British Columbia. He has held residencies at Triangle, Marseilles; Western Front and 221A, Vancouver and in 2017 won the City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Award for Emerging Visual Artist. He is one of the founding members of the record label Second Spring.