Ken Lum/ Kenneth Robert Lum

Canada 1956

Conceptual Art

Ken Lum
Kenneth Robert Lum
Male
Canada
1956

Depicting the tension between personal experience and external classification, Ken Lum creates a complex body of work, searching for the right kind of expression in various media and different approaches, including performance, sculpture made of rented furniture, studio portrait photographs joined with false corporate logos, paintings of opaque language or mazes composed of mirrors inscribed with text. In each of these forms, he questions the systems that order our comprehension of the everyday world, often using manipulations to attract the attention in consumer culture. Going beyond the established conventions of portraiture, his work marks the individuals he depicts as subjects who strive to autonomy in the society that shapes their positions.

 He qiestions canadian identity on public spaces that incluce new policy of curated program in vienna in 2014
Ken Lum – Coming soon, Installation view – Image via kunsthallewien.at

From Scientist to Prolific Artist

Born in 1956 in Vancouver, Canada, Lum gained his education at the University of Columbia where he received an MFA in 1985. Originating from China, his grandfather arrived in Canada in 1912, to work for the Pacific Railway Company. Working in a number of media including painting, sculpture, and photography, Ken’s art ranges from Conceptual in orientation to the representational in character and is generally concerned with issues of identity in relation to the categories of language, portraiture, and spatial politics. Lum turned to Conceptual art after receiving his undergraduate degree in science. He believes that his lack of early formal art training enabled him to be more receptive to the influences of other Conceptual artists, such as Martha Rosler and Dan Graham. He asserts that, by the late twentieth century, concepts rather than the artist’s technical skill were most important in creating a work of art. Like many artists of his generation, he uses mass-produced consumer materials, blurring the boundary between art and popular culture[1]. Rarely fabricating his own works, he instead cooperates with studio photographers and tradespeople on his projects. Using the combinations of photographic images and text, sculptural components, and ideas about language, the artist produces pieces that address contemporary life.

Ken Lum creates art concerned with issues of identity in relation to the categories of language, portraiture, and spatial politics

 He teaches arts and new curated policy at whitney university school
Ken Lum – I Can’t Believe I’m In Paris, 1994 – Image via espaciosrevelados.cl

Questioning the Existence of Identity

His approach takes into consideration the individual’s place in society with the aim of investigating race and class distinctions. Lum strives to encourage the viewer to ask questions about social issues and the visual world. His life experience of Chinese Canadian living in East Vancouver has provided the material for most of his works which explore the issues of class, race, and identity. “Vancouver is the source of all my reflections. It’s not just a fountain of all my ideas, but it’s actually constantly feeding back towards my art. I think I make the work I do because I think about this city a lot.”[2] Lum’s 30-year retrospective, held in Vancouver Art Gallery in 2011, included several installations using mirrors that refer to his so-called triangulation – a visitor is always projecting his or her own identity onto characters on a sign or poster. As a result, between expectations, projections and identification come to entangling. Focused on issues of identity, the artist emphasizes the element of empathy and alienation. He began his Photo-Mirror series in 1997. On the inside edge of each mirror’s frame, he placed photos of random people and scenes that became framed with the viewer who looks at his own reflection in the mirror, making the series of reflections seem endless.

His 30-year retrospective, held in Vancouver Art Gallery included Photo-Mirror series

 He is a chinese teacher at public school of arts in philadelphia
Ken Lum – Mirror Maze with 12 Signs of Depression – Image via lines-between.com

Public Projects and Teaching Positions

Lum has worked on the number of public art projects in several cities around the world. There is no Place Like Home, centrally located in Vienna in 2000, generated controversy because he comprehended the work as the reaction to the growth of the extreme right in Europe. He made several pieces in Vancouver and Toronto, and in 2016 won the commission to create a memorial to the 1986 Lake Nyos Disaster in Cameroon. Lum’s work has been shown worldwide since late 1970’s, including solo exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada, Witte de With, and the Vancouver Art Gallery, which held a major retrospective in 2011. Among the prominent group exhibitions, he was a part of São Paulo Biennial (1998), Shanghai Biennale (2000), Venice Biennale (2001), Documenta 11 (2002), the Istanbul Biennial (2007), and the Gwangju Biennale (2008), Moscow Biennial (2011), and the Whitney Biennial (2014). He was a head of the graduate program in studio art at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, where he taught from 1990 until 2006.

Ken Lum currently lives and works in Philadelphia.

References:

  1. Anonymous. Ken Lum, Professor and Chair of Fine Arts Department, Penn Design [September 15, 2016]
  2. Sohal, R. (2011) Calling From Canada: Ken Lum 30 Year Retrospective at Vancouver Art Gallery, Art 21 Magazine [September 15, 2016]

Featured image: Ken Lum – Artist’s portrait – Image via news.upenn.edu

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Wall to Wall: Carpets by ArtistsMuseum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA), ClevelandGroup
2016Ken Lum - Coming SoonKunsthalle wien project space karlsplatz, ViennaSolo
2016Ken LumKunsthalle wien project space karlsplatz, ViennaSolo
2016Ken Lum - Coming SoonMuseumsquartier, ViennaSolo
2015VerortungenGalerie Steinek, ViennaGroup
2015Ken Lum - Coming SoonKunsthalle wien project space karlsplatz, ViennaSolo
2015Sign, sign, everywhere a sign Justina M Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto, Toronto, ONGroup
2014Whitney Biennial 2014Whitney Biennial, New York City, NYGroup
2014Nouvelle GénérationFRAC - Nord-Pas de Calais, DunkerqueGroup
2014You've Really Got a Hold of MeOakville Galleries, Oakville, ONGroup
2014PunctumBemerkungen zur Photographie - Salzburger Kunstverein, SalzburgGroup
2014Amnua International Project-In Out SourceArt Museum of Nanjing University of the Art - AMNUA, Nanjing, JiangsuGroup
2014Ökonomie Der AufmerksamkeitKunsthalle Wien (Museumsquartier), ViennaGroup
2013In Deed: Certificates of Authenticity in ArtWeatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NCGroup
2013The River Between UsLaumeier Sculpture Park, Saint Louis, MOGroup
2013The Mini-Mall SeriesMarc Jancou Contemporary, New York City, NYSolo
2013Continental Drift I & IIKonzeptkunst in Kanada: Die 1960er und 70er Jahre - Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe Group
2013El Arte del PresenteColección Helga de Alvear - Mecenazgo al Servicio del Arte -CentroCentro Cibeles , MadridGroup
2013Special Collection: Acquisitions and ArchivesThe Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery,Vancouver, BCGroup
2013In DeedContemporary Art Centre (CAC), VilniusGroup
2012Ken LumPeter Freeman, Inc. Paris, ParisSolo
2012KCCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, CAGroup
2012C.1983Presentation House Gallery - PHG, North Vancouver, BCGroup
2012Ken LumL.A. Galerie , Lothar Albrecht, FrankfurtSolo
2012Common History and Its Private Stories. Geschichte und GeschichtenSofia Art Gallery, SofiaGroup
2012Learning PhotographieFRAC - Haute-Normandie, Sotteville-lès-RouenGroup
2012Where I Lived, and What I Lived ForOakville Galleries, Oakville, ONGroup
2012Problem PlayKoenig & Clinton, New York City, NYGroup
2012La ligne passéeGalerie Bernard Ceysson, LuxembourgGroup
2012The Shopkeeper SeriesMarc Jancou Contemporary, New York City, NYSolo
2012Bearing WitnessKelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna, BCGroup
2011Summer ReadingArtspeak, Vancouver, BCGroup
2011AccrochageGalerie Grita Insam, ViennaGroup
2011Out of Storage: Provisoire & DéfinitifMarres - Centre for Contemporary Culture, MaastrichtGroup
2011Through the Looking BrainKunstmuseum Bonn, BonnGroup
20112000s to PresentMisa Shin Gallery, TokyoSolo
2011Ken LumVancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BCSolo
2011One Suitcase Per Person1a space, Hong KongGroup
2011Am Ende war das WortUrsula Blickle Stiftung, Kraichtal-UnteröwisheimGroup
2011In DeedCerificates of Authenticity in ArtFondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, VeniceGroup
20114th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art - Rewriting WorldsMoscow Biennale of contemporary art, MoscowGroup
2011In Deed: Certificates of Authenticity in ArtDe Vleeshal, MiddelburgGroup
2011ConText – Bild und TextL.A. Galerie – Lothar Albrecht, Frankfurt,Main Group
2010Hey, We're Closed!Hayward Gallery, LondonGroup
2010Back to the Future?Osage Soho, Hong KongGroup
2010Hold Still Wild Youth: The GINA Show ArchiveOr Gallery, Vancouver, BCGroup
201089 Km. Colección CGACMARCO Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo, VigoGroup
2010Checking in with your hotspotsSurrey Art Gallery, Surrey, BCGroup
2010Traffic: Conceptual Art in Canada c. 1965 to 1980UTAC - University of Toronto Art Centre ,Toronto, ONGroup
2010Construction SitesKamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops, BCSolo
2009ProiezioniCastello di RivaraGroup
2009Texto: A Goup ShowDiaz Contemporary, Toronto, ONGroup
2009Uneasy PiecesOakville Galleries, Oakville, ONGroup
2009GAGARIN The Artists in their Own WordsSMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, GhentGroup
2009Ken Lum - works and videos L.A. Galerie – Lothar Albrecht, FrankfurtSolo
2009Common History and Its Private Stories. Geschichte und GeschichtenMUSA - Museum Startgalerie Artothek, ViennaGroup
2009Sign,Age Part Three: Fight The PowerCentro d´arte contemporane, Rivara, TOGroup
2009Just Around the CornerArrow Factory, BeijingGroup
2008Let Me Be Your MirrorMacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, SKGroup
2008Art Metropole: The Top 100MSVU Art Gallery, Halifax, NSGroup
2008Rorschach ShopkeepersGalerie Grita Insam, ViennaSolo
2008Pleinairismi8 Gallery, ReykjavikGroup
20087th Gwangju BiennaleGwangju Biennale, GwangjuGroup
2008Recent Acquisitions: Persona SocialisSurrey Art Gallery, Surrey, BCGroup
2008Ken Lum - Guillaume ParisPeter Freeman, Inc, ParisGroup
2008Beautiful PeopleCentre d’Art la Panera, LleidaGroup
2007The Shadow Cabinet - part IIDe Appel arts centre, AmsterdamGroup
200725th AnniversaryPeter Freeman, Inc, ParisGroup
2007Beautiful People et la Blessure SecrèteCrac Alsace, AltkirchGroup
2007REALLIFE 1979-1990Artists Space, New York City, NYGroup
2007Passing Through: Iain Baxter& Photographs 1958-1983Art Gallery of Greater Victoria,Victoria, BCGroup
200710th International İstanbul BiennialInternational Istanbul Biennial, IstanbulGroup
2007Is there a there there?Oakville Galleries, Oakville, ONGroup
2007Read Me! Text in ArtArmory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CAGroup
2007Ken Lum - Roschach: Shopkeeper SeriesL.A. Galerie – Lothar Albrecht, FrankfurtSolo
2006UnlearnPlug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg, ManitobaGroup
2006Here + NowElizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, ORGroup
2006Sound and Vision - The Montreal Museum of Fine ArtsMusée des beaux-arts de Montréal,Montreal, QCGroup
2006Liverpool BiennialLiverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art, LiverpoolGroup
2006Arquivar TormentasCGAC - Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de CompostelaGroup
2006AutonomiaLUMC - Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum, LeidenGroup
2005Emergency Biennal Emergency Biennal, BolzanoGroup
2005Private View 1980-2000 - Collection Pierre HuberMusée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, LausanneGroup
2005PhotographiesPeter Freeman, Inc, ParisGroup
200580 plus 25 equals 2005Galerie Witteveen, AmsterdamGroup
2005Monuments to the USACCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, CAGroup
2005I don't know…Galerie Grita Insam, ViennaSolo
2005Ken LumBlackwood Gallery at the University of Toronto , Mississauga, ONSolo
2005Ken Lum - Shopkeepers Series Art & Public, GenevaSolo
2005Neuerwerbungen der Sammlung 2005Neue Galerie Graz - Universalmuseum Joanneum, GrazGroup
2005ARBEITSWELTENMuseum in Progress, ViennaGroup
2005Group ShowPeter Freeman, Inc, ParisGroup
2004Baja to VancouverCCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, CAGroup
2004NOT DONE! Het KUNSTenaarsboekMuHKA Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen,AntwerpGroup
2004Out Of PlaceGalerie Nordenhake, BerlinGroup
2004Flirts. Arte e pubblicitàMUSEION - Museum für moderne und zeitgenössische Kunst , BolzanoGroup
2004Support - Die Neue Galerie als Sammlung - 1950Heute - Neue Galerie Graz - Universalmuseum Joanneum, GrazGroup
2004Schriftbilder Bilderschriftvon Bartha Collection, BaselGroup
2004walk meArchitekturzentrum Wien, ViennaGroup
2004Ken Lum Works With PhotographyThe Power Plant, Toronto, ONSolo
2004Ken Lum Works With PhotographyNickle Galleries, Calgary, ABSolo
2004Presentation of the collection XMuHKA Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, AntwerpGroup
2004Aufruhr der Gefühle, Leidenschaften in der zeitgenössischen Fotografie und VideokunstKunsthalle Göppingen, GöppingenGroup
2004Aufruhr der GefühleMuseum für Photographie Braunschweig, BraunschweigGroup
2003L'esprit Des LieuxFRAC - Haute-Normandie, Sotteville-lès-RouenGroup
2003DER REST DER WELT ALEXANDER OCHS GALLERIES BERLIN, BEIJING, Berlin Group
2003Micropolitics. Art and Everyday Life (2001-1989)Espai d´Art Contemporani de Castelló - EACC, Castellon de la PlanaGroup
2003TALKING PIECES - Text und Bild in der Zeitgenössischen KunstMuseum Morsbroich,LeverkusenGroup
2003M_ARS - Art and WarNeue Galerie Graz - Universalmuseum Joanneum, GrazGroup
20034. Österreichische Triennale zur Fotografie - Sight.SeeingÖsterreichische Triennale zur Fotografie, GrazGroup
2003The Bigger Picture - Portraits from OttawaOttawa Art Gallery, Ottawa, ONGroup
2003PartnersHaus der Kunst München, MunichGroup
2003Ken Lum Works with PhotographyArt Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, OntarioSolo
2003Ken Lum - Miroir MiroirPeter Freeman, Inc, ParisSolo
2003Social Strategies - Redefining social realismUniversity Galleries at Illinois State University,Normal, IlGroup
2003Away from home Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OHGroup
2002l'Effet Larsen - Casino LuxembourgForum d'art contemporain, LuxembourgGroup
2002Documenta 11Documenta, KasselGroup
2002Text MassageGaleria Helga de Alvear, MadridGroup
2002Grand BazarThe Living Room, AmsterdamGroup
2002Science + Fiction. Zwischen Nanowelt und globaler KulturSprengel Museum Hannover,HannoverGroup
2002Ken Lum - Selected Works L.A. Galerie – Lothar Albrecht, FrankfurtSolo
2002Ken Lum - Works with photographyCanadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa, ONSolo
2001KEN LUM - Leaving Law ........The Agency Gallery, LondonSolo
2001Ken Lum - I wish I had more friends (or one more sign of depression)Center for Contemporary Art, CCA Kitakyushu, KitakyushuSolo
2001Ken LumCAG - Vancouver Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, BCSolo
2001Ken Lum - There is no place like homeGalerie im Taxispalais, InnsbruckSolo
2001Der Larsen Effekt OK Offenes Kulturhaus OÖ, LinzGroup
2001Neue WeltFrankfurter Kunstverein, FrankfurtGroup
2001Group Show with Trans editionsChac Mool Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
20007. Bienal de La Habana 2000La Bienal de La Habana, HavanaGroup
20002000 Shanghai Biennale - Spirit of ShanghaiShanghai Biennale, ShanghaiGroup
2000Contaminated Symptoms: Photo-Based Works from the Permanent CollectionOakville Galleries, Oakville, ONGroup
2000Ken Lum "Shopkeeper Series" L.A. Galerie – Lothar Albrecht, FrankfurtSolo
1999Ken Lum: Photo-Mirrors - The Banff Centre Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, ABSolo
1999Life CyclesGalerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst - GfZK, LeipzigGroup
1999In the cityFRAC - Haute-Normandie, Sotteville-lès-RouenGroup
1999SWEET & SOURArt & Public, GenevaGroup
1998Ken Lum - Language PaintingsCatriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver, BCSolo
1998Jaingnan ProjectCatriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver, BCGroup
1998Cities on the Move 3MoMA PS1, New York City, NYGroup
1998Recent Acquisitions to the Photo CollectionThe Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery,Vancouver, BCGroup
1998Cities on the move 2CAPC - Musée d'art contemporain, BordeauxGroup
1998Travel and LeisurePaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
199824° Bienal de São PauloBienal de Sao Paulo, São PauloGroup
1997Cities on the moveWiener Secession, ViennaGroup
1997HeavenMoMA PS1, New York City, NYGroup
1997Une minute scénario : Le Printemps de CahorsMusee de Cahors Henri-Martin, CahorsGroup
1997Foto Text Text FotoFotomuseum Winterthur, WinterthurGroup
1996A driftHessel Museum of Art & Center for Curatorial Studies Galleries at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NYGroup
1995Ken Lum: Recent Work Camden Arts Centre, LondonSolo
1995Untitled (Reading Room)Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1995Album: The photographic collection of Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen RotterdamMuseum Boijmans van Beuningen, RotterdamGroup
1994Die Orte der Kunst Sprengel Museum Hannover, HannoverGroup
1993Ken Lum - Come On, Get Up!Neue Galerie Graz - Universalmuseum Joanneum, GrazSolo
1991Carnegie InternationalCarnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg, PAGroup
1990(not so) Simple Pleasures: Pleasure and Contentment in Contemporary ArtMIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MAGroup
1990Drawings, Editions, PrototypesArtspeak, Vancouver, BCSolo
1989Vis-a-Vis : aspecten van hedendaagse portretfotografieStedelijk Museum ’s-Hertogenbosch,'s-HertogenboschGroup
1989Problems with reading and rereadingRhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
1989D plus SKunstverein in Hamburg, HamburgGroup
1989Une histoire de collections : dons 1984-1989Musée d´art contemporain de Montréal,Montreal, QCGroup
1988New York NowGöteborgs Konsthall, GothenburgGroup
1988Group ExhibitionGalerie Chantal Crousel, ParisGroup
1988Brockmann - Bourget - Ess - R Graham - Gober - Lum - LuytenGalerie Micheline Szwajcer,AntwerpGroup