Damian Moppett, The Bells, Installation view, SFU Gallery, 2014. Photo: Blaine Campbell.

Damian Moppett: The Bells

January 18 – April 17, 2014
SFU Gallery

Damian Moppett’s conceptual and studio-based practice explores a complex relationship between art and cultural history. Utilizing photography, sculpture, drawing, painting and video, Moppett’s self-reflexive engagement with his references is visible in the work, highlighting connections between seemingly discrete historical moments. Images of the artist's own studio – as a site of process, experimentation and performance for art making – appear frequently in Moppett's work of the last several years. His studio images are visually dense and populated with tools, materials, artworks in process, and referents from Peter Paul Rubens, Auguste Rodin and Anthony Caro to Mike Kelley and Luke Lindoe.

For his exhibition The Bells at SFU Gallery, Moppett’s new video engages directly with photographs of his studio and its contents. These images are presented to the video camera as stills and are accompanied by a soundtrack of the artist responding to the images. The distance provided by the multiple cameras provokes the consideration of a material practice over time. Referencing Hollis Frampton’s work, specifically the 1971 film (nostalgia), which depicts the slow burning of photographs from Frampton’s early artistic explorations with a soundtrack of comments, Moppett similarly asks viewers to engage with past and present temporalities within the work.

The Bells announces a located moment in Moppett’s practice, and in doing so locates his practice within a broader historical context. Bells themselves mark time, are a call to worship, signal alarm and mark the beginning and end of work. They are a form of mass communication to call people together or to commemorate important events more privately, and the connection between images and music signals a passage from one form to another. Adjacent to the video installation, the exhibition presents watercolours, maquettes and studies that relate to the process of the work.

Connected to the permutations of the studio is the forthcoming permanent outdoor installation of a sculptural work by Moppett, Large Painting and Caryatid Maquette in Studio at Night (Sculpture Version), 2012 on SFU’s Burnaby campus as part of the SFU Art Collection. The sculpture presents the studio as a kind of stage set. The artist transformed a painting of the studio into a three-dimensional space, taking abstracted shapes and reproducing them as large-scale cutouts in painted aluminum.

The exhibition The Bells will be accompanied by a publication. The first in a new SFU Galleries publication series, the publication includes a commissioned parallel text by Lisa Robertson and as well as critical source materials related to the artist’s layered practice.

Moppett is a Vancouver based artist who studied at Emily Carr College of Art and Design (now University) and received his MFA from Concordia University. His work has been exhibited at Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa), Temple Gallery, Tyler School of Art (Philadelphia), Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), Witte de With (Rotterdam), Catriona Jeffries Gallery (Vancouver), Vancouver Art Gallery, The Power Plant (Toronto), Rennie Collection (Vancouver) and the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery (Vancouver), among others. He has taught at Concordia University and Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and has been awarded residences through Glenfiddich, Dufftown, Scotland and International Residencies Program, Space, London.

Curated by Melanie O’Brian


Opening Reception
January 18, 11am – 1pm
Brunch and spiked coffee


The Bells: Damian Moppett

The Bells is the first publication in the SFU Galleries Critical Reader Series. A discursive forum, the series encourages critical writing and projects that run parallel to programming at SFU Galleries.

Focusing on the unfolding ideas raised in Damian Moppett’s exhibition The Bells (SFU Gallery, January 18 – April 19, 2014), this publication not only contextualizes Moppett’s layered practice, but also engages with the historical and ongoing space of the studio and visual materiality. New texts by poet Lisa Robertson, writer Sharon Kahanoff and Damian Moppett, and a reprinted 1974 text by artist Hollis Frampton, collectively consider Moppett’s widely referential practice through a myriad of lenses: art historical, material and theoretical. Edited and introduced by Melanie O’Brian.

Regular price: $15

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