How the Glitz and Excess of the 1980s Shaped Contemporary Art
Well known for his series of works that mimic strip-mall signage, bearing generic business names such as Beijing Wok or Ebony Eyes Beauty Salon, Ken Lum explores how identities are subsumed into larger political or cultural structures, in a genre-spanning practice. His signs reveal Lum’s longstanding engagement with the people and iconography of his native Vancouver, but these are not mere acts of appropriation. Instead they look at the ways such images contribute to constructions of identity, discarding cultural complexity and nuance. Lum has said, “We live in a world in which symbols conflate into signs. And symbols normally should be a lot deeper. There's a kind of confusion between surface and depth.” He has also produced performance works, sculpture, and paintings.
Canadian, b. 1956, Vancouver, Canada, based in Vancouver, Canada