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Contemporary Art Gallery

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

Admission always free
28 Jan 11until27 Mar 11

Roy Arden


B.C. Binning and Alvin Balkind Galleries

A collage of cut and pasted photographs on a red background; a sunset, black and white images of a couple, people lying on a beach, and a person in a suit all overtop of an image of a gallery space.

Roy Arden,The West is the Best, 2009. Courtesy the artist and Monte Clark Gallery.

The colloquialism of Roy Arden’s exhibition title UNDERTHESUN suggests open-ended generosity. It may imply the act of finding one’s place, it can also, quite simply and implausibly conjure “everything.” Arden’s dense installation of nearly one hundred works, comprising broken antique toys, rusted objects, spinning sculptures, loud horns, colourful palettes, and graphic imagery, gives the exhibition a carnivalesque atmosphere, and the dynamism collectively draws a history that is at once playful and welcoming yet foiled by a cool elusiveness and criticality.

From intimate handmade collage to large-scale kinetic sculptures, Arden chronicles the progression and effects of modernity. Beginning with images and materials from his extensive digital and print library, Arden extracts a seemingly unsystematic selection: a short newspaper article of a domestic break-in is rescaled into a pencil drawing, the covers of out-of-date and small print-run books are painted, found and aged materials become assemblages on wheels. Yet the ostensibly diverse works are linked by lines and repetitions that provide crucial clues to our understanding of social and economic history, beginning with the industrial revolution. Depictions of technological advancements in textile and transport industries may simultaneously signify progress as well as the deteriorating conditions of workers; a reiteration of a mid-twentieth century illustration comically signals the machines domination over man as well as female liberation. UNDERTHESUN is a multifaceted compilation of works that combine to speak of a focused search to discover manifold causes of our present condition through relentless digging, quotation and reinterpretation.

Arden is well-known for his austere photographs depicting transformative effects on Vancouver's cityscape and its surroundings. As such this comprehensive exhibition at the CAG may seem a departure, but he has always performed a parallel combing of the larger image world. In the 1980s Arden produced a body of work that employed historical photographs to explore the social history of BC. Recently he has returned to working with found images in video, online works, drawings, sculpture, paintings, paper and digital collage, which continues his broader artistic interests.

This exhibition was sponsored by The Hamber Foundation.


Roy Arden studied at the Vancouver School of Art and received an MFA from the University of British Columbia in 1990. Although best known for his photographic work, Arden’s artistic practice is multi-disciplinary, including collage, painting, sculpture, and video. Over the past three decades, Arden has exhibited extensively across Canada, as well as internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include I Can Only Give You Everything, Richard Telles, Los Angeles (2010); People of British Columbia, Monte Clark, Vancouver (2009); Roy Arden (Selected Works 1981-2007), Vancouver Art Gallery (2007); Always the Sun, Galerie Tanit, Munich (2006); and Roy Arden (Selected Works 1985-2000), Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2006). Arden lives and works in Vancouver. Arden is represented by Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver, Clark & Faria, Toronto and Richard Telles, Los Angeles.

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