Our Exhibits

The Vancouver Art Gallery presents exhibitions of work by artists ranging from historic masters to leading-edge contemporaries. These include major thematic exhibitions, presentations of solo artists and smaller, more focused showcases. In a typical year, 2 to 3 exhibitions are borrowed from other institutions and 10 to 12 exhibitions are developed in-house, drawing on our permanent collection and loans of works from around the world. In addition, the Gallery tours a few of its exhibitions each year.

Current Exhibitions

Gordon Smith: The Black Paintings

October 21, 2017 to February 4, 2018

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Gordon Smith
Tanu, 1995
acrylic on canvas
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Acquisition Fund


Gordon Smith (b. June 18, 1919, Hove, England) is one of Canada’s most influential and compelling painters. His practice spans over seven decades and he continues to paint to this day. Though primarily known as a landscape painter, Smith’s complex oeuvre can be characterized as one of continued, rich and varied artistic exploration. Above all else, at the very core of Smith’s work is a love of painting and paint itself—texture, colour, form and brushstroke.

Beginning in 1990, Smith began producing a body of work described as the black paintings. These works, abstractions often with collaged elements, sometimes refer explicitly to his wartime experience when he was wounded at Pachino Beach in Sicily in 1943. The series marked a departure in Smith’s practice through the use of text, symbolism and personal content, essentially absent elsewhere in his work. Strikingly different from his landscape images, the black paintings have a depth and emotive richness, which reveals itself only with close observation. These are densely painted, darkly abstracted paintings, punctuated with occasional colour, text and collaged elements that reveal his ongoing interest in how paint looks and feels and how gesture reverberates when expressed through paint. Smith’s later black paintings see forms abstracted even further as memory and biographical associations are buried within layers of paint. The black paintings lay bare Smith’s notion that “painting should be a re-creation of an experience rather than an illustration of an experience.”

Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Ian Thom, Senior Curator-Historical.


Visionary Partner for BC Artist Exhibitions:
David Aisenstat

Generously supported by:
Eric Savics
Lesley Stowe and Geoffrey Scott


Additional support from:
Maohua Chen
Yafei Li
Jiantao Zhao