The Polygon Gallery presents Steven Shearer, the acclaimed Vancouver artist’s first solo show in Canada in over a decade
The expansive exhibition showcases the influence on Shearer’s practice of an evolving personal archive of more than 74,000 images
The Polygon Gallery presents Steven Shearer, an expansive solo show on display from Nov. 20, 2021, to Feb. 13, 2022. This marks the first major national survey of the Vancouver artist’s work since 2007, when Shearer’s work was last shown in a solo exhibition in the city. This exhibition highlights his extensive archive of more than 74,000 photographic and print materials, and its influence on his larger artistic practice.
“Steven Shearer is an artist who has received considerable attention internationally, but there have been very few opportunities to see his work locally,” said Reid Shier, director of The Polygon and the curator of the exhibition. “He has developed an iconoclastic practice that deserves to be seen by his hometown Vancouver audiences. We’re thrilled to be able to present a comprehensive look at his recent work, and to have the chance to see how his personal archive of images has helped shape his approach to art making across a range of mediums, including drawing, assemblage, sculpture and painting.”
The exhibition includes more than 40 works by the artist, as well as a 19-volume self-published series of books documenting his vast image archive. The monumental collection features found images from print and online sources, in addition to photographs purchased on eBay. Shearer began the archive after graduating from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 1992. The images from the archive are the genesis of the work on view, including a new, 70-foot-wide installation of 33 prints; collages comprised of thousands of images on canvas; blown-up versions of singular photographs; drawings; paintings; and a towering sculpture made of PVC pipes.
Across his interdisciplinary works, Shearer’s prevailing interest is in exploring the ways people remember and idealize one another. Drawing from historical, modern, and contemporary methods of depiction — from Renaissance and Symbolist paintings to analog photos of long-haired rockers — the artist examines the way images are made and how they constitute meaning, both figuratively and symbolically. The exhibition traces the artist’s many referential layers to their origin point in a stillevolving archive, itself a work to be excavated for hints about the changing ways people are pictured and imagined.
Born in 1968 in New Westminster, Shearer represented Canada at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011 and has presented solo shows at the New Museum in New York, de Appel Center for Contemporary Art in Amsterdam, Ikon Gallery in the UK, The Power Plant in Toronto, and Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery and Or Gallery. The artist is represented by Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zürich and David Zwirner Gallery in New York. His work is included in prominent museum and public collections worldwide, among them The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Kunsthaus Zürich.
Generously supported by Claudia Beck & Andrew Gruft, Brigitte & Henning Freybe, Phil Lind, and Bruno Wall.
COVID-19 safety protocols
The Polygon has put in place preventative measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. All exhibitions are planned in accordance with the Provincial Health Officer’s most recent order, including capacity restrictions, social distancing, mandatory mask wearing, and sanitization of high-frequency touch points. Vaccine Cards are not required to view the exhibitions or visit the shop. A Vaccine Card is required to attend special events at The Polygon Gallery, for all visitors 12 and older. This includes guided tours and Kids First Saturdays.
About The Polygon Gallery
The Polygon is one of Canada’s most acclaimed photography and media art galleries. The Gallery moved into its Governor General’s Medal-winning building in 2017 after operating as Presentation House Gallery for 40 years. The organization has presented more than 300 exhibitions and earned a reputation as one of Canada’s most adventurous public art institutions. Admission is by donation, courtesy of BMO Financial Group.
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101 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver | Unceded territories of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish),
səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and xwməθkwəýəm (Musqueam) Nations
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Image: Steven Shearer, Geometric Mechanotherapy Cell for Harmonic Alignment of Movements and Relations, 2007-2008. © Steven Shearer, courtesy of National Gallery of Canada, Galerie Eva Presehuber, and David Zwirner