Takashi Murakami in Vancouver

Whimsy and social commentary mark Japanese art star Takashi Murakami’s exhibition, The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg. The Vancouver Art Gallery snagged this coup, a blockbuster retrospective of 59 sculptures and paintings, for the show’s only Canadian stop in a three-city North American tour. The title? The octopus does indeed eat its own leg in order to survive when it is diseased or injured. And, likewise, Murakami wants to withstand the vagaries of mass popularity and critical approval.

Gordon Bennett: Be Polite

Australian artist Gordon Bennett's exhibition, a powerful attack on systemic racism, is called Be Polite. It is anything but.The late artist, of Indigenous and Anglo-Celtic ancestry, expressed his disgust through wit and anger in a variety of styles and media. His largely unseen works on paper, at Vancouver's Contemporary Art Gallery until Sept. 24, are a foundation of his practice, precursors to the larger conceptual paintings for which he has attracted the most attention.

Sculptor marries the scary and the sublime

“I like a lot of the sculptors from the Renaissance and I like the special effects guys from the movie business,” says Vancouver sculptor Jesse Rubin. His pieces reflect that duality – beautifully rendered and finely detailed human shapes married with a touch of the bizarre, a unique combination that, admittedly, can weird people out. And oh yes, they stand no more than 20 inches tall. Rubin can’t explain his fascination with creepy creatures or why he works with such tiny figures. “I don’t hav

Trans Am Totem Raises Awareness

Nature meets consumerism in a new work by Vancouver artist Marcus Bowcott. Bowcott has stacked five junked cars atop a 20 foot high cedar tree in a piece called Trans Am Totem. An ode to the automobile? Not really.  Bowcott’s sculpture reminds us of our reliance upon fossil fuels, global warming and the continuing degradation of the environment. “The automobile holds a unique position in our culture,” says the artist. “It’s a manufactured want and a symbol of extremes: practicality and luxury,

Rande Cook: A Gentle Rebel

A portrait of Tin Tin, the fictional young Belgian reporter depicted in the cartoon series by Hergé, isn’t what you’d expect from an Aboriginal artist steeped in First Nations traditions. Riding a bull in New York’s financial district doesn’t come to mind either, but Rande Cook bucks the stereotype. “If I have to do another killer whale motif I’m going to shoot myself,” he laughs. Cheeky but original, Cook’s mission is to redefine Native art.