January 22 – March 21, 2015
Among the many characteristics of his practice, Coupland is known for his re-contextualization of contemporary cultural trends and how they are articulated by the latest technology. Our Modern World addresses larger societal obsessions by revealing the artist’s personal ones. These examinations are divided into three new bodies of work: Deep Face, Trash Vortex and The Montecristos.
Deep Face explores Facebook’s recent corporate initiative to identify all faces posted to the website by using facial recognition algorithms — a somewhat intrusive proposition, but one that will be implemented, regardless. Facebook’s proposition is a small taste of the retrograde privacy invasion that will typify much of the near and distant future. Deep Face presents portraits that recall photographs by Thomas Ruff or screen shots by Andy Warhol that have been obscured through scientific camouflage and deflection techniques. The camouflage is painted as opposed to digitally applied overtop the large, high-resolution photos to create images that are neither masks nor generic abstraction. They dually conceal and technologically reveal our identity, representing the state of in-between-ness that pervades the modern mind.
In Trash Vortex Coupland drips coats of toxic paint onto vintage globes. The focal point of where the paint is applied lies directly over the Pacific Trash Gyre, a garbage patch consisting of plastics and other particulates that have been cast off — ejected from society, but still very much present on the earth. By way of ocean currents, this debris accumulates, resulting in the Gyre’s formation. These colourful globes become meditations on the seductive, but cruel beauty of the man-made world, and of its increasingly observable unsustainability.
The Montecristos are a collection of seventy-five collages that reflect the artist’s ongoing fascination with collecting, aggregation and borderline hoarding. From afar, the collages appear to be an almost overwhelming wall of colour but upon closer inspection, present evidence of banality, including high, mid, and low-brow consumerism and remnants of industrial activity in 2015. Reminiscent of the collages of Kurt Schwitters, Coupland’s use of luggage tags, Nespresso capsules, envelopes, and other found and collected ephemera, comments on waste and culture in our modern world.
This exhibition runs concurrently with Douglas Coupland’s retrospective everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything, which opens at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) on January 31, 2015.
Douglas Coupland is a graduate of the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, as well as the Hokkaido College of Art and Design in Sapporo, Japan and the Instituto Europeo di Design in Milan, Italy. Coupland’s work has been exhibited in numerous international group shows and has completed several public commissions, including the Terry Fox Memorial in Vancouver and Monument to the War of 1812 in Toronto. Coupland’s first major retrospective, everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything opened at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2014 and travels to Toronto in winter 2015. In the fall of 2015, Coupland will have a solo show at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. His work can be found in the collections of the University of British Columbia, Glenbow Museum (Calgary), Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston) and the Albright Knox (Buffalo). Coupland was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2014.