May 21, 2021 – July 11, 2021
Artist Brendan Lee Satish Tang
Inquiry What is progress?
Returning to and reflecting on his childhood home, Tang centres the exhibition on a life-sized paper replica of a Ford F-150 circa 1984, the year he and his family moved to Nanaimo.
Reluctant Offerings is the first exhibition in Nanaimo Art Gallery’s inquiry, What is progress?
Reluctant Offerings is a solo exhibition of new work by British Columbia-based artist Brendan Lee Satish Tang. In this exhibition, Tang expands on earlier projects using joss paper: a Chinese cultural practice wherein paper replicas of objects and money are burnt as acts of sending gifts to loved ones in the spirit world. Returning to and reflecting on his childhood home, Tang centres the exhibition on a life-sized paper replica of a Ford F-150 circa 1984, the year he and his family moved to Nanaimo.
As the best-selling truck in Canada for over 50 years, the Ford F-150 has gained a certain notoriety. Growing up in Nanaimo as an immigrant kid in the 1980s, for Tang the truck was emblematic of a culture of hypermasculinity, power, and dominance over nature and society. The F-150 and its associated ephemera became a locus of both resentment and enrapture, as symbols of an ‘old boys club’ Tang was not invited to join. Despite his dubious relationship to these items, Tang has carefully constructed replicas to offer them as gifts, inscribing them with layers of value – as spiritual offerings, as artworks, and as meticulously handmade objects.
Entering the gallery, visitors encounter what could be a once-loved vehicle abandoned mid-repair or a 1980’s movie set. This diorama, however, is not made of rusted steel or shot on film, but crafted of skillfully painted watercolour paper. Often associated with picturesque scenes or landscapes framed and hung in domestic settings, Tang inverts these conventions, using watercolour as the surface of an ostensibly rugged work vehicle. The truck is accompanied by joss paper objects from trucker hats to beer bottles. All of these objects from the past are shared with reverence, even though they are meant to be burnt.
Reluctant Offerings is the first exhibition in Nanaimo Art Gallery’s inquiry, What is progress?. The exhibition is accompanied by a text by Vancouver-based artist, writer and curator Vanessa Kwan.
The development and production of Brendan Lee Satish Tang’s work for Reluctant Offerings was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the BC Arts Council.