Ron Terada (Canadian, b. 1969) hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, which has been a hotbed of conceptual art since the 1960s. The Vancouver scene as it exists today was shaped by an international outlook, a reliance on photography, and a savvy relationship to the processes and strategies of mass media, exemplified in the work of artists such as Vikky Alexander, Roy Arden, IAIN BAXTER&, Rodney Graham, Roy Kiyooka, Ken Lum, Steven Shearer, Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace, and many others. Vancouver artists are hyper-aware of their heritage as Canadians. Through trenchant critique and ongoing dialogue, they have created a sophisticated and self-aware community in which to work. Terada has forged an extremely personal path through this rich territory, participating in an ongoing analysis of his hometown and its art mythology while also constantly taking stock of his status within that tradition. What might at first appear to be coolly detached riffs on art-world styles and conventions become, with careful study and across numerous examples, a touching and vulnerable exploration of self—as it is manifested through taste, success, identity, and psychology.
Terada does not wear his heart on his sleeve, and in his choice of media, slogans, and approaches he deflects any easy recognizability, yet slowly and carefully his work reveals a deeply human desire to communicate. This conflict is apparent in the title of the exhibition, Being There. Through these paintings, sculptures, signs, videos, and photographs he tries to impart aspects of himself, and yet nowhere is a straightforward self-portrait on offer. In classic Generation X fashion—to use the term coined by his fellow Vancouverite Douglas Coupland, an artist, theorist, and novelist—Terada’s career thus far embodies Coupland’s idea that “the time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life’s cruelest irony.” Terada has shown extensively in Canada and been included in many group shows worldwide. This is only his second solo exhibition in the United States.
This exhibition is curated by MCA James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator Michael Darling.
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