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Triumphant Carrot: The Persistence of Still Life

Sam Taylor-Wood A Little Death 2002 Film still Courtesy White Cube © Sam Taylor-Wood

Summer group shows can often be seen as sleepy. Make the theme still lifes, and culturati will suspect a real snorer. But the wittily titled “Triumphant Carrot” blockbuster brings excitement to the genre (and season) with top-flight artists and diverse works. Yes, all the old standby subjects are here—fruits, vases, flowers and candlesticks, to name just a few—but all are spun in fresh directions. For instance, Peter Fischli and David Weiss‘ mid 1980s photographs turn kitchen-counter fare into Calderesque mobiles. Jayce Salloum‘s snapshots of vibrant flora take over the corner of a room, blooming out of the site’s architecture. Eric Cameron‘s Beer Can-Can (1248), like other works in his “thick paintings” series, encases an object in dense layers of form-hugging paint, expanding its sculptural life in four dimensions. Sam Taylor-Wood takes what looks like a traditional still-life scene—a dead rabbit and a ripe peach—and speeds their decomposition filmically, highlighting the real ephemerality of art-frozen biota. Liz Magor continues to offer disturbing simulacra of contemporary life’s detritus, be it cigarette butts or roadkilled animals. And James Carl‘s Thing’s End delivers a different angle on everyday objects, presenting the viewer with stiff clay versions of that most flexible of junk-drawer cram, the rubber band. Rounded out by work from Kelly Mark, Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham and 20 other well-regarded contemporary artists, “Triumphant Carrot: The Persistence of Still Life” promises to paint a pleasing picture of the way summer group exhibitions—you know, those other preordained montages of motionless objects—can hope to regain relevance in the future. (555 Nelson St, Vancouver BC)

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