Vancouver Art Gallery Presents Pictures & Promises

Image Credit: O Zhang, We are all the Future of the Earth, 2008, inkjet print, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of the Artist.

The Vancouver Art Gallery has opened Pictures and Promises in collaboration with Capture Photography Festival. Drawn from the Vancouver Art Gallery’s rich photographic holdings.


Until further notice, in line with the public health order, non-essential travel into, within, and out of BC is not recommended. BC residents, let’s do our part by continuing to stay small and support local with your immediate household, in accordance with the latest guidelines.


Pictures and Promises, focuses on lens-based works that employ the structures, conventions and formal qualities used in commercial culture, mass media, fashion and advertising. The works then deploy these strategies to play on collective understandings of the world around us and to investigate the iconography of consumerism.

The title of this exhibition directly refers to the 1981 exhibition of the same name: Pictures and Promises: A Display of Advertisings, Slogans and Interventions, curated by artist Barbara Kruger. On view at the Kitchen Center for Video and Music in New York from January 8 to February 5, 1981, the exhibition combined advertisements, television commercials, posters, commercial photography and corporate signage with works of art, proposing that the ways in which “artists have chosen to engage the codes of advertising aesthetics suggests the ease of popular visual language.” Due to the inherent relationship between photography and reproduction, lens-based works are uniquely positioned to make visible the representation and repetition reinforced by the commercial realm. By discreetly or overtly referencing commercial advertising, artists in this exhibition offer an analysis of the ways in which images function in society and that meaning is created and disseminated.

In an increasingly visual and digital world, it is both fascinating and important to understand the often subtle and coded role of images in creating knowledge,” explains Anthony Kiendl, CEO and Director, Vancouver Art Gallery. “This is a timely and valuable exploration of the ways images, words and art intersect and transform information into meaning.

Pictures and Promises speaks to the pervasive nature of lens-based images in society at large and the importance of visual literacy and critical analysis in reading those images. We are thrilled to be partnering with the Vancouver Art Gallery in presenting this exhibition and we are truly grateful for their collaborative spirit. It was a joy to work with their rich photographic holdings,” states Emmy Lee Wall, Executive Director, Capture Photography Festival.

The exhibition features local, national and international lens-based artists and includes a broad selection of artwork from both historical and contemporary periods. Featured artists include Vikky Alexander, Eugène Atget, Walker Evans, Gu Xiong, Richard Hamilton, Barbara Kruger, Ken Lum, Yasumasa Morimura, Andy Warhol and Zhang O.

Pictures and Promises is on view from February 20, 2021 to August 22, 2021. To book tickets:  Visit

Tagged: ,

Comments are closed for this post

Comments are closed.