"Jeff Wall" is organized by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. This exhibition is made possible in part by the generous support of Lannan Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency in the U.S.; the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada (Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Commerce International du Canada); the Canadian Consulate General in Los Angeles; and Air Canada.
Purport of the Exhibition
The Jeff Wall Exhibition is currently being held at the Contemporary Art Gallery of the Art Tower Mito (ATM), in Mito (Ibaraki Pref.). This full-scale solo exhibition of the artist's works is the only Japanese leg of an international tour that has also gone to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C. and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The exhibition has been planned with the cooperation with the Los Angeles museum.
In the past two years, the Japanese public has had the occasion to get to know several works by this Canadian-born artist, as he participated in group exhibitions held at the Yokohama Museum of Art, the Setagaya Art Museum in Tokyo and the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto. The exhibition this time, however, is an extensive retrospective, collecting two decades of Wall's masterpieces from major museums and private collections worldwide. The 30 works (37 single pieces) displayed here -- ranging from "The Destroyed Room" to the latest monochrome pieces -- testify to the artist's penetrating eye toward "the society where we live, and our present and future."
Wall creates his works using actors and actresses on location, as in a movie production, and uses a computer to construct elaborate scenes. Just as painters of past ages composed and depicted historic scenes, landscapes and fashions, Wall portrays our present age fully applying his knowledge of art history and photography. In 1993, for instance, influenced by the Japanese woodblock artist, Katsushika Hokusai, he produced "A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai)," a portrait of modern times modeled after "Sunshu Ejiri," one of "The 36 Views of Mt. Fuji." The work, which seems to have frozen a scene of a film or a phase of an everyday episode, stimulates our imagination to invent our own story.
In 1978, Jeff Wall produced the powerful "The Destroyed Room" -- the first time he used a light box covered with a color transparency, as in a Japanese subway wall advertisement -- giving it an appeal in the style of advertising. The work, which the artist arranged as elaborately as a stage set, recreates a vandalized private room.
After graduating from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Wall studied art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. He continually posed himself the question of how an artist could create an intense impression, in the fashion of Goya or Manet, by depicting the current age. He also asked himself what kind of work would be significant for our modern society. One answer to these questions was his idea of using fluorescent light boxes with photographs, thus hitting on a new way of expression. As he put it, "It is not photography, cinema, painting, or propaganda -- though it has strong associations with them all."
Since then, Wall has continued to picture his hometown, Vancouver, urban life, his stressed-out contemporaries' psychological conflict and other objects mirroring the society in which we live. His international reputation is that of a storyteller for our age.
Several works in the current exhibition are especially important: "The Destroyed Room" (1978, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa), "Woman and Her Doctor" (1980-81, private collection) "The Storyteller" (1986, Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main), "Dead Troops Talk" (1992, private collection), and "A Sudden Gust of Wind (After Hokusai)" (1993, Tate Gallery, London). Visit the gallery and you will thoroughly enjoy a landscape, a street event, a fantasy, modern people's mental distortion and everything that Jeff Wall has expressed in his career, from the earliest work of 1978 to the latest monochrome pieces.
Selected Biography of the Artist
1946 Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 1970 Master of Arts, Department of Fine Arts, University of British Columbia (UBC) 1970-73 Doctoral research, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London 1976-87 Associate Professor of Center for the Arts, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver 1978 One-person show at Nova Gallery, Vancouver, at which "Destroyed Room" was first presented 1989 Collaboration with Dan Graham on "The Children's Pavilion" 1996 One-person show touring the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris, the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, and elsewhere 1997 Participated in Documenta 10, Kassel; One-person show touring the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Current Associate Professor of University of British Columbia. Lives in Vancouver.
February 20-May 11, 1997 Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.(curated by Kerry Brougher, Director of The Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, England)
July 13-October 5, 1997 The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Information about the ATM Exhibition
Title: Jeff Wall Period: December 13, 1997 (Sat) to March 22, 1998 (Sun) Venue: Contemporary Art Gallery of Art Tower Mito (ATM), Mito, Ibaraki Pref. Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (no admission after 6:00 p.m.) Closed: Mondays, as well as from December 29, 1997 (Mon) to January 3, 1998 (Sat) Admission: ¥800 General ¥600 Advance-purchase tickets, groups (20 or more) Free Students (through 9th grade), senior citizens (65 and older), and handicapped persons ¥1,000 H.T.P. (one-year High Teen Pass for 15- to 19-year-olds, available at ATM) Organized by: Contemporary Art Center, Art Tower Mito (ATM) and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Supported by: Canadian Embassy in Japan Grant from: The Government of Canada Sponsored by: Japan Airlines and Shiseido, Co., Ltd. Cooperation: Takeo Co., Ltd. and SOUM Corporation