December 9, 2009

Justina M. Barnicke Gallery presents Will Kwan

Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Hart House at the University of Toronto
Will Kwan: Multi-lateral

Will Kwan’s work often takes the form of searing iconographic formats. The exhibition includes Flame Test (2009), a series of flags imprinted with images of burning flags culled from the international press, installed in the Great Hall at Hart House. Inside the gallery, the artist has installed a large spiraling neon sign using NATO phonetic code, while a series of clocks indicate the local time in mostly obscure, but critical and hyper-specialized manufacturing centers of the global economy (Toyota City, Kibera, Halawa Heights and others) the way a wall behind hotel desks offers travelers the current time in Paris, London, Tokyo and New York.

Visually powerful, through photography, earth art, performance, and video, Kwan’s work often focuses on types of exchanges fostered within the multi-national banking system. For instance, Endless Prosperity, Eternal Accumulation (2009), presents a monumental series of photographic images of eighty varieties of hongbao—commonly known in North America as Chinese red envelopes. Containing money, and offered during festivities and social occasions, this Chinese cultural form has been appropriated by transnational financial corporations in North America, the European Union, East Asia and China for circulation to Chinese clientele. The envelopes suspend corporate insignia with the crenulated finery of chinoiserie consumed in both art historical and colonial references. Examinations of encounters between cultural identities are here staged through items that navigate the decorum of financial transactions with the graphic imagination of cultural history.

Will Kwan received his MFA from Columbia University, New York (2004), and was a research fellow at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht, The Netherlands (2005-2006). His work has been presented at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2005); the 50th Venice Biennale, Venice (2003); the Montreal Biennale, Montreal (2007); Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai (2006); Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai (2007); Art in General, New York (2004); The Power Plant, Toronto (2008); CAC, Vilnius (2003); the Polish National Museum, Poznan (2007); and Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella (2004). Kwan is currently a Lecturer in Sculpture and Art Theory in the Department of Studio Art at the University of Toronto Scarborough and a graduate faculty member in the Masters of Visual Studies Program at the University of Toronto.

Click to view exhibition reviews by Sarah Milroy in The Globe and Mail and Murray Whyte in The Toronto Star.

Justina M. Barnicke Gallery
Hart House, University of Toronto
7 Hart House Circle
Toronto, ON
M5S 3H3

Tel: 416-978-8398
Fax: 416-978-8387
Email: [email protected]

Gallery Hours
Monday to Friday 11am – 5pm
Thursday 11am – 8pm
Saturday and Sunday 1pm – 5pm

The Gallery is closed on statutory holidays.
Please refer to the Gallery website for updates.
The Gallery offers tours by appointment.
The Gallery is wheelchair accessible.

The exhibition is supported by the Toronto Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

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