The works of Vancouver artist Ken Lum are deceptively simple. The bulk of the work at his current retrospective at the Power Plant, are similar to the one here, a large portrait paired with text. The style of his work and the fact that many of us simply rush through galleries trying to consume as much work as possible means that it’s easy to miss the meanings and signification that Lum has bundled in his work.
“Alex Gonzales” raises questions of identity, masculinity, and the parent-teen relationship. Other works in the show, like “Mounties & Indians,” poke and prod at dense and often difficult topics such as Canada’s post-colonial legacy and the construction of our national iconography. While others, like “Steve” juxtapose our traditional expectations, elevating seemingly ordinary individuals by blowing up their photos and placing them in a gallery.