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Remai Modern to open career-spanning exhibition by acclaimed Canadian artist Ken Lum

For immediate release — February 12, 2022

SASKATOON, CANADA — On February 12, Remai Modern opens Death and Furniture, a career-spanning selection of work by senior, internationally celebrated Canadian artist Ken Lum. This impactful survey of works shows the remarkable diversity over the course of Lum’s 40-year career, including photography, text and installation. 

“We are delighted to host, Death and Furniture, Ken Lum’s first major exhibition in Canada in 10 years, and to showcase a wide range of work from his extraordinary career,” said Johan Lundh, co-curator of the exhibition and Remai Modern Co-Executive Director & CEO. “Lum’s work comes from a Conceptual background but he also creates work that is relatable, understandable and relevant to audiences. We look forward to sharing this timely exhibition with our communities and visitors.”

The exhibition uses as its starting point the new body of work, Time. And Again. (2021), in which Lum uses his characteristic image-and-text format to explore the intersections of work and stress, persistent concerns throughout our lives that came into extreme focus during the global pandemic. 

The series will also be seen on five billboards in downtown Saskatoon starting February 28 to showcase Lum’s public art practice. It is an opportunity to expand the museum’s reach into some unexpected places and share Lum’s distinctive, humorous and astute view of the world with an even larger audience.

“Ken’s work is rooted in Conceptual art, and is therefore very idea-driven, but it often is very moving and relatable. He produced Time. And Again. in 2021 in the midst of the pandemic. It’s about the stress and anxiety of work, which is something I think almost anybody can relate to, particularly in our current time,” said Michelle Jacques, co-curator and Remai Modern’s Head of Collections/Exhibitions & Chief Curator. “Mental health is a theme that threads through much of his work, in particular a work called Mirror Maze with 12 Signs of Depression, which employs a carnival-style house of mirrors to disorienting effect.”

Mirror Maze with 12 Signs of Depression was first produced in 2002 for Documenta in Kassel, Germany. The work allows viewers to see themselves in multiple ways, both through a compound of reflections made by repeating mirrors, and through texts etched onto the mirrors, taken from a clinical depression diagnostic test. This large-scale installation is complemented by numerous works from Lum’s Photo-Mirror and Path Chart series, which build on his exploration of mirrors and mazes. 

The exhibition title is inspired by two bodies of work: Necrology (2016-17) – a series of monumental, fictional death announcements – and the Furniture Sculptures (1978-ongoing) – living room decor turned into artworks through simple reconfiguration. 

 Lum’s practice is based in idea-driven, Conceptual Art and the simple, geometric shapes of Minimalism. It is also deeply rooted in socio-political concerns such as class, ethnicity, migration and difference. These issues define Lum’s art and our shared experience in the contemporary moment. To engage with his work is an opportunity to think through how we each fit into the time we currently occupy together, and a space of undeniable truth. 

Death and Furniture is on view at Remai Modern until May 15. 

 Ken Lum: Death and Furniture is curated by Michelle Jacques and Johan Lundh and co-organized by Remai Modern, Saskatoon and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. The exhibition marks the artist’s receipt of the 2019 Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), and will open at the AGO on June 25. The AGO presentation is organized by Xiaoyu Weng, Carol and Morton Rapp Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

About Ken Lum 

Ken Lum is known for his conceptual and representational art in a number of media, including painting, sculpture and photography. A long-time professor, he currently is the Chair of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design in Philadelphia. He was formerly Professor of Art at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver where he was also Head of the Graduate Program in Studio Art; Bard College, Annendale on Hudson, New York, and the l’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris.  Besides English, Lum speaks French and Cantonese Chinese.

A co-founder and founding editor of Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, he is a prolific writer with numerous published articles, catalogue essays and juried papers. As an artist, he has a long and active art exhibition record of over 30 years, including major exhibitions such as Documenta 11, the Venice Biennale, Sao Paolo Bienal, Shanghai Biennale, Carnegie Triennial, Sydney Biennale, Busan Biennale, Liverpool Biennial, Gwangju Biennale, Moscow Biennial, Whitney Biennial, among others. 

Lum holds an honorary doctorate from his undergraduate alma mater, Simon Fraser University.  He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Hnatynshyn Foundation Visual Arts Award and is a Penn Institute of Urban Research Fellow.  He was offered a Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University in 2011 which was not exercised.  In late 2017, Lum was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada. For Monument Lab, he was co-receiver of a Knight Foundation grant along with Paul Farber.  In 2018, he was granted a Pew Fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.

About Remai Modern

Remai Modern is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Traditional Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respects to First Nations and Métis ancestors and reaffirm our relationship with one another.

Remai Modern is a new museum of modern and contemporary art in Saskatoon. The museum presents and collects local and international modern and contemporary art that connects, inspires, and challenges diverse audiences through equitable and accessible programs. 

Open since October 2017, Remai Modern is the largest contemporary art museum in western Canada and houses a collection of more than 8,000 works, including the world’s foremost collection of Picasso linocut prints.

Remai Modern would like to acknowledge the contributions of the Frank & Ellen Remai Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, SaskCulture through the Sask Lotteries Fund, SaskArts and the City of Saskatoon.

For additional information contact:

Stephanie McKay, Communications Manager306.975.2242