Exhibition runs until September 5th, 2011.

Since the origins of Surrealism in the 1920s, the tension between the recognizable and the unfamiliar has inspired and informed artistic practices. Unreal, drawn primarily from the Gallery’s permanent collection and augmented with local loans, considers contemporary artists’ explorations beyond the rational and looks at the ways in which they delve into ideas around desire, fantasy, anxiety and the absurd. Although many of the images and objects presented may initially appear normal and familiar, upon closer examination these quotidian scenes have been transformed into strange, mysterious and at times nightmarish depictions.

From examinations of human vulnerability to the mining of the unconscious as a source of inspiration, to a conscious turn towards the strange and fantastic as a deliberate strategy to counter the cool rationality of conceptual art, this exhibition considers the diversity and innovation with which artists explore the many edges of reality. Artists include Francis Bacon, Maxwell Bates, Matthew Brown, Marcel Dzama, Jock Macdonald, Myfanwy Macleod, Luanne Martineau, Paul McCarthy, Jason McLean, Eric Metcalfe, Annette Messager, Sandra Meigs, Al Neil, Alfred Pellan, Marina Roy and Cindy Sherman, among many others.

This exhibition is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Daina Augaitis, chief curator/associate director.

Photo: Marcel Dzama, Untitled, 2000, ink, watercolour, root-beer wash on paper.
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery Vancouver Art Gallery Acquisition Fund.