Lights Out! Canadian painting from the 1960s at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Feb. 18 – April 29

Maxwell Bates, Beautiful B.C., 1966, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery; Photo: Teresa Healy

The 1960s was a tumultuous decade throughout the world and the Vancouver Art Gallery’s new exhibit Lights Out! Canadian Painting in the 1960s captures the rampant energy of the era.

Youth rejected social norms. The zeitgeist catchphrases were “counterculture” and “social revolution.” Racism and sexism were forcibly challenged. Radical political change took place worldwide. If you need a refresher, crack the encyclopedia, enjoy a Mad Men marathon and then head out to VAG’s Lights Out! open Saturday, February 18 through April 29.

The exhibit uses 90 paintings by modernists to illustrate the boisterous diversity of the era in the Canadian context, taking its name from a 1963 canvas by the internationally-known artist, musician and filmmaker Mike Snow.

Find out more about the featured artists and take a sneak peak at their work after the jump.

As cultural and political upheaval in the 1960s changed the course of nations, and Canada celebrated its 1967 Centennial, modernist Canadian painters debated figuration vs. abstraction. Lights Out! showcases art from both sides of the divide. With work from artists in all of Canada’s key centres of activity such as Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, London, Regina and Vancouver, Lights Out! also offers a rare chance to find out how different regions contributed to the national Canadian dialogue.

Artists include Mike Snow, Suzanne Bergeron, Ronald Bloore, Yves Gaucher, Kenneth Lochhead, Michael Morris, Harold Town, Jack Bush, Jack Chambers, Claude Tousignant, Jean-Paul Lemieux and Joyce Wieland. You can expect haunting figurative works alongside striking colour-fields and bold optical images. Check out a few pieces from the exhibit below.

Ken Danby, Guidepost, 1965, egg tempera on composition board, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery; Photo: Trevor Mills

Takao Tanabe, Untitled (Passing Rainbow), 1968, acrylic on canvas, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery; Photo: Tim Bonham

Michael Morris, Untitled, 1967, acrylic on canvas, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery; Photo: Jim Jardine

Joyce Wieland, Tragedy in the Air, or Plane Crash, 1963, oil on canvas, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery; Photo: Robert Keziere

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