March 17 – May 22, 2005

Accidental Tourist

Works by Roy Kiyooka
Curated by Melanie Townsend

Circulated by Museum London

Accidental Tourist examines a large but lesser known period of Roy Kiyooka’s art practice from 1969 until his death in 1994. An artist and poet, he established himself in the 1950s and 60s as an important abstract painter. In an effort to reject art critic Clement Greenberg’s theories on Modernism and the institutions of art – with which he and his compatriots of the Regina Five were closely associated – Kiyooka abandoned a successful painting practice in favour of a more diversified approach to his work, embracing a multitude of new forms and media. Dancing between media with great fluidity and agility, Kiyooka’s sustained interest in people and the environment creates coherence and continuity despite the diversity in approach.

Accidental Tourist includes soundscapes, film and video works as well as slide installations and sequential photographic works – pivotal pieces in the development of, and experimentation with a multi-disciplinary practice. Accidental Touristproposes Kiyooka as a tourist and explorer, displaced in Canada as part of an immigrant family and in Japan, the homeland of his parents.

Made evident in his work he seems reconciled to operating in both worlds simultaneously, floating between east and west; insider and outsider; friend and observer, he becomes a tourist, observer and documenter. A personal view into his private life, the works also speak to the larger human condition, illuminating the streets and alleyways of city life and the overwhelming beauty of the natural landscape that surrounded him. There is a lonely contemplation in many of the works although he is often surrounded by a band of friends and admirers. The pieces presented in this exhibit investigate self, community and nature – they are candid images of his surroundings, reflecting the greater whole of Kiyooka’s life – multiplicitous work for a multifaceted man.

Melanie Townsend

About the Artist

Roy Kiyooka (1926-1994) was a “multi-disciplinary” artist who was a painter, sculptor, teacher, poet, musician, film-maker, and photographer (or combination of any of the above). When Kiyooka arrived in Vancouver in 1959 he was already one of Canada’s most respected abstract painters. His modernist stance at the time inspired a generation of Vancouver painters to reach beyond regionalism. In the sixties and seventies Kiyooka began to write and publish poetry and produce photographic works. The best known of these, StoneDGloves (1969-1970), is both a poetic and photographic project. As Kiyooka eventually rejected the modernist (Greenbergian) aesthetic that informed his paintings he increasingly took up performance, photography, film, and music. He saw the position of the artist in opposition to the institutions of art. The shape of Kiyooka’s work is only now being revealed, especially his photographic work.