Vancouver artist Rodney Graham remembered for his generosity, brilliance


Friends and fellow artists are remembering Vancouver artist Rodney Graham, 73, as a beneficiant man and sensible artist, following his loss of life on the weekend.

Four of the galleries that represented Graham introduced his loss of life on Monday, saying he died after a year-long battle with most cancers.

“We’ve misplaced our expensive Rodney, a genius artist, expensive good friend, grasp of disguise, snappy dresser, provider of dry humour, an incredible songwriter, at all times modest, an understated mental, gifted novice, skilled connoisseur, Sunday painter who seldom labored Sundays, in the end a real skilled in each sense of what it means to be an artist,” stated Nicholas Logsdail, founding father of the Lisson Gallery in London, within the announcement posted on-line.

In Vancouver, Graham could also be greatest recognized for certainly one of his newer works, Spinning Chandelier, a public artwork set up beneath the Granville Street Bridge.

Spinning Chandelier, an infinite public artwork set up designed by Rodney Graham and unveiled in 2019 value $4.8 million and was commissioned by a developer constructing a close-by skyscraper. Three instances a day, the chandelier lowers and begins to spin, earlier than stopping and rising again up towards the bridge it is suspended below. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The piece was commissioned for the City of Vancouver by the developer Westbank as a part of an settlement when Vancouver House, a skyscraper close to the north finish of the bridge, was being accredited. It was unveiled with some controversy, each for its hovering value, $4.8 million, and for the symbolism of an expensive chandelier hanging in a metropolis that struggles with affordability.

Reid Shier, the director of the Polygon Gallery in North Vancouver, labored with Graham on Spinning Chandelier as the general public artwork marketing consultant for Westbank.

“If you look carefully at that work, you have a look at a brand new mind-set about structure within the metropolis, the constructed infrastructure within the metropolis, a few area that unused and unthought about and brought for granted — and Rodney re-imagined it in a very extraordinary and transformative manner.”

“It’s actually in regards to the relationship of that chandelier to the bridge and what and the way we will think about town.” 

Installation view of Rodney Graham, Paddler, Mouth of the Seymour, 2012–13 in Pictures from Here, an exhibition on the Vancouver Art Gallery, May 19 to Sept. 4, 2017. (Vancouver Art Gallery)

Shier additionally referred to as Graham a good friend, saying his loss of life on Saturday was “tremendously unhappy” and that even at 73 years outdated, Graham was extraordinarily youthful and younger at coronary heart and nonetheless working within the prime of his profession.

“I feel the final consensus was that there was a lot extra to anticipate from him, and he was actually in an important inventive moment that it looks as if a profession lower quick and a life lower quick.”

Shier and others describe Graham as a polymath — an excellent artist able to shifting his manner from one conceptual self-discipline to a different.

Graham was a part of the Vancouver School of conceptual images, which developed within the Nineteen Eighties, alongside artists like Jeff Wall and Ian Wallace (each of who performed with Graham within the post-punk/new wave late-Nineteen Seventies band, U-J3RK5), Ken Lum and Stan Douglas.

Douglas declined a CBC interview request following Graham’s loss of life however stated he was saddened by the information.

“I referred to as Rodney a good friend,” he stated.

Rodney Graham. Artist Bar, Fifties, 2016. C-print. (Courtesy of Rodney Graham)

Beyond his images, during which Graham usually performed a starring position, he was additionally recognized for his portray, sculpture, music, movie, and maybe his most internationally well-known work, Vexation Island, which was exhibited on the 1997 Venice Biennale.

Vexation Island is a looping video set up that includes a castaway pirate, performed by Graham, during which he’s seen sleeping or unconscious earlier than rising to fetch a coconut from a tree, which falls and strikes him within the head, sending the person to the bottom and starting the loop anew.

Graham was awarded the Audain Prize for lifetime achievement in visible arts in 2011 and appointed to the Order of Canada in 2016.

Author Ben Street posted to Twitter on Monday, “Rodney Graham’s Vexation Island, a murals with its personal everlasting wing in my head.”

William Gibson, the writer of Neuromancer and pioneer of the cyberpunk style, additionally posted a notice about Graham’s loss of life on Twitter, commenting on his great sense of humour.

For Elizabeth Starr, a longtime good friend who additionally labored for Graham as a private assistant in Vancouver, his loss of life did not come as a shock. She had just lately visited him within the hospital, bringing Graham issues like chapstick.

Starr remembers Graham as a beneficiant particular person and referred to as him a genius. She stated he even let her stay in his basement for a time when she was going by a tough patch.

Starr now owns Liberty Bakery in Vancouver, which she purchased in early 2021 from Graham and two different companions.

Shier additionally commented on Graham’s generosity, saying, “You might actually really feel his deep love and enthusiasm for the world round him, and he gave a lot. It was such a pleasure to be close to and amongst him and to be in a dialog with him.”


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