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Did somebody order Takeout? Art show explores China/Canada cultural exchange

(Da Bao) (Takeout), a new show at the Surrey Art Gallery, features the work of several artists, including Ed Pien (his piece, Shadow Player, is above) and Laiwan, whose video Movement for Two Grannies (still frame below) is on display. - Courtesy of Varley Art Gallery of Markham
(Da Bao) (Takeout), a new show at the Surrey Art Gallery, features the work of several artists, including Ed Pien (his piece, Shadow Player, is above) and Laiwan, whose video Movement for Two Grannies (still frame below) is on display.
— image credit: Courtesy of Varley Art Gallery of Markham

From painting to photography and sculpture to video installation, the artworks in (Da bao)(Takeout) are inspired by such diverse cultural forms and subject matter as shadow theatre, mushroom farming, tai chi, urban development, cooking, and rickshaw design.

This group exhibition at the Surrey Art Gallery explores a cross-cultural and social dynamic between China and the West, specifically Canada. It focuses on the work of artists who investigate, adapt, and instil ideas from abroad into their practices, and their interpretation is transferred from one ethnicity to another.

Centered on the metaphor of take-away food culture (in Mandarin ‘da bao’ refers to take-out food) the art on display presents ironic, critical, and humorous perspectives on the import and export of culture, people, and ideas. The seventeen artists in this exhibition are a mix of second- or third-generation Chinese-Canadians, Chinese who have travelled abroad to study art, and Canadians who have travelled to China for residencies or exhibitions. They share the experience of being ‘taken out’ of familiar environments and encountering a strikingly different culture. While their individual voices are unique, collectively they speak to issues of cultural transference, highlighting the gaps, distances, and misunderstandings inherent in communication across cultural divides.

Participating artists are Sara Angelucci and Han Xu, John Armstrong and Paul Collins, Cathy Busby, Joey Chang, Gang Chen, Brendan Fernandes, Nan Hao, Ming Hon, Knowles Eddy Knowles, Laiwan, Minjeong Oh, Ed Pien, Laurens Tan, Xiaojing Yan, and Elsie Shen Yi.

(Da bao)(Takeout) is curated by Toronto-based Shannon Anderson and Beijing-based Doug Lewis. The exhibition is organized and circulated by the Varley Art Gallery of Markham.

(Da bao)(Takeout) launches on Jan. 25 with an opening reception from 7:30-9:30 p.m. (formal remarks at 7:45 p.m.). At 6:30 p.m., Bejing-based co-curator Doug Lewis gives a tour of the exhibition. Admission to the opening reception and tour is free. The exhibition continues to March 23.

Surrey Art Gallery is located at 13750 88 Ave. Call 604-501-5566 or check www.surrey.ca/artgallery for more information.

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