Douglas Coupland: The 21st Century Continues… Part II

August 9 – September 7, 2013

Divided over the summer, Coupland’s new exhibition explores two ideas, one being the ascendance of a parallel cultural system in the Middle East. Recently, Coupland has participated in art events and publications related to the Dubai Art Fair and theGlobal Art Forum in Dubai and Qatar, exposing him to the vitality, energy and dynamism of a new cultural system only marginally interested in the Western model. As Coupland says, “The Emirates right now have energy the way Seattle did in 1993, and the way punk did in 1976. It is undeniably the future, with very little ongoing dialog with the West, which is fascinating.”

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Within the exhibition, is a series of recreated 9/11 images that are difficult to apprehend without the use of a smartphone camera. Coupland notes that smart phones with cameras didn’t exist on September 11, 2001, implying that this historical moment is the last to be under documented given the progress of smartphone technology today and it’s connection to the development of obsessive patterns of documenting oneself, others and events. His 9/11 imagery is elusive. Viewers have the option to choose whether to see or to not see the imagery depending on their own personal psychological space and technological objects.

The second idea explored in Coupland’s new work is a sense of atemporality; the defining sensation of the second decade of the 21st century. The advancement of new technologies has flattened time and space, creating the present where all previous eras of time can coexist without one particular period emerging as dominant. This new mode of perception is reflected in a body of paintings in which time travels between 1913 and 2013. Juan Gris and Pablo Picasso coexist with Roy Lichtenstein who coexists with Google and Facebook. These paintings are built of 21st century words and codes—luggage bar coding tags, industrial gray scales and other digital code systems—that might have baffled a viewer until recently, but which in this new context have an air of chilly futurity.

Douglas Coupland lives and works in Vancouver. He 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 group shows internationally, most recently at the ART LABOR gallery in Shanghai, China as part of By Sea, Land and Air, We Prosper: New Art From Vancouver, Canada. Coupland has also had successful solo shows across Canada, including most recently Twenty-First Century at Trepanier Baer in Calgary, Alberta. Coupland has completed numerous public commissions such as the Terry Fox memorial in Vancouver and Monument to the War of 1812 in Toronto. Coupland is currently working on a large bronze memorial for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation scheduled for public presentation in September 2012. His work can be found in the collections of the University of British Columbia and the Glenbow Museum, Calgary.