One of Vancouver’s most internationally adored art icons, Rodney Graham, has passed away at age 73. | Catch My Job


Known as one of Canada’s greatest multi-discipline art stars, Rodney Graham has died at the age of 73. His death was announced by the Leeson Gallery in London, England.

Surrounded by family and loved ones, Graham died on October 22 after a year-long battle with cancer.

Nicholas Logsdale, owner of Leeson Gallery, wrote: “We have lost our beloved Rodney, a talented artist, dear friend, master of disguise, chic dresser, purveyor of dry humor, an amazing songwriter, always modest, a no brainer, gifted amateur, professional. The virtuoso, the Sunday painter who rarely worked on Sundays, is ultimately a true professional in every sense of what it means to be an artist.”

Graham was born in Abbotsford and began his career in Vancouver, where he began making instant waves for his photographic and film work after graduating from art school.

Logsdale praised him as “a radical pioneer of lens-based media, albeit with the added ability to skewer the conceptual and minimal art practices prevailing in New York at the time.”

Famous works include 2005 Torqued chandelier release (which generated no shortage of conversation when it was installed in Vancouver in 2019), as well as 2001’s Phonokinetoscope (which produced Albert Hoffman’s bicycle ride around Berlin’s Tiergarten after ingesting LSD).

Often considered the work that cemented his international stardom, Graham’s 1997 video Vexation Island depicts the artist in classic nautical attire—including a floral shirt and strappy shoes—sleeping on a sun-kissed tropical beach for nearly 9 minutes. , a noisy blue macaw observes. After waking up, a falling coconut lands on Graham, sending him right back to where he started, with a pre-existing scar on his head indicating that life is often something of an endless, repetitive loop.

Graham was celebrated for large-format seabachromes in which he sported a variety of character roles: an aging ’70s rocker, a ’30s photo booth owner, a ’50s abstract painter and a disgruntled sous chef.

Comment on Casting Yourself in Cary Grant’s Reinterpretation of Cat Bugler in Alfred Hitchcock’s Scene To catch thievesGraham once said, “This role spoke uncomfortably to me about my own life”. by Rodney Graham: That’s Not Me: Baltic Documentary

As Logsdale elaborates, “The artist is, of course, everywhere hidden in plain sight – camouflaged beneath a cavalcade of historical, comic or fictional characters and details, amounting to a collective portrayal of every human being in existence. Indeed, every reference or setting was carefully researched and choreographed, often creating a Hollywood-style set in his studio for each cinematic scene.”

Although most famous for his lens-based work, Graham reinvented himself as an accomplished painter in later life. He was also a multi-talented musician comfortable in a variety of genres.

Always up for a challenge, Graham remixes less than Richard Wagner’s score Parsifal In 1990. In the late 70s and early 80s he was a founding member of the iconic art-wavers U-J3RK5, a band that also included future international art stars Ian Wallace and Jeff Wall.

Graham is survived by his mother, Janet Graham; sister Lindsay Graham; brother Alan Graham; partner Jill Orsten; Shannon Oksanen; Scott Livingstone and children Ray and Coco Livingstone.

Here’s how Graham’s fans and colleagues are remembering him on Twitter.



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