2023. Landscape, Loss, and Legacy. The Ottawa Art Gallery.
Using a multidisciplinary approach for this exhibition, Kwan engages with the City of Ottawa’s Firestone Collection of Canadian Art (FCCA).
Reflecting upon modernist depictions of landscape in Canada, Kwan explores legacies of inclusion and exclusion, rooted in land-based settler colonialism. Whether landscape, abstraction, or portraiture, 20th-century Canadian modernism, which is the basis of the FCCA, was founded at a time when discriminatory policies such as the Chinese Exclusion Act were in place, affecting the participation of Chinese-Canadian artists in artistic circles.
As such, within a process of reclamation, research and exchange with Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) curators, Kwan brings his selection from the FCCA into dialogue with his own artistic practice, which considers family and memory. Through a discourse on iconic “Canadian” and “Chinese” images and objects, and examination of his own family’s history of more than a century in Canada, Kwan considers the question: What does it look like to belong in the Canadian landscape?
This exhibition is part of the OAG’s Firestone Reverb series, in which contemporary artists are invited to respond to the FCCA by putting new work into conversation with this well-known collection of historical art. photo credit Justin Wonnacott