Ed Spence

The art of Ed Spence attempts to create a visual language capable of describing abstract, physical and spiritual concepts. There are borrowed elements, such as the grid, that suggest mathematical concepts and the mapping of space. The plinth sets a stage for presentation and provides a physical frame that references the museum context, and in turn, it represents the passage of time. By extension, the presentation of objects within a museum context brings attention to the history of humanity in relation to real and hypothetical technological advances. Photography is used both for documentary recording and practical aesthetic purposes. In this way, Spence can capture the phenomenological effects of light and literally dissect the results. The process can be seen as a combination of photography and collage, in which the resulting digital planes are at once superimposed and embedded. The process of reorganization draws attention to the plasticity of virtual space.

One aspect of Spence’s art is fuelled by his interest in the newly integrated digital environment. Like an intangible projection, it exists in holographic non-space, but also exists in an inescapably physical way. The hypothetically infinite dimensions of cyberspace are extended and restricted by the hardware it is governed by. With this in mind, his art attempts to chart the fringe of digital aesthetic and the unfathomable scale of nano tech.

These works are driven primarily by process. What initially appears to be a digital effect is actually a meticulously handcrafted deconstruction of an image. Using only a knife, ruler and scissors, portions of the images have been dissected into tiny squares and the information is presented in alternative configurations. No pieces have been lost or gained.

Light plays a large role in the work of Spence. The analysis of how objects appear gives inspiration to his process and the particulate nature of these cut and paste abstractions suggests the underlying structures that give shape and individual characteristics to matter. Each individual pixel records the path of light, resulting in a document that contains the mapping of an ephemeral instance. By restructuring that instant, the artist can overcome the reality of its inception while keeping the information as a whole. The superimposition of alternative formations allows the concrete objecthood to come into question. The formal boundaries of subject and background are undermined through transformative manipulation and the illusion of pictorial space is brought into light.

Upon realizing the reorganizational logic, a playful visual interplay of dissolution and reassembly is open to the viewer. The building blocks of the visual language become transparent, allowing the relationships of hue, saturation and lightness to come to the forefront. Many of these pieces are, by the nature of the material process in conjunction with the figurative subject matter, meditations on individuality in the face of physical and spiritual universality. Caught in the moment of disintegration, the work depicts the dissolution of individual states into a duplicate coalescent form. The subjects are reborn into alternative existences, simultaneously alien to, and at one with their environment, a space which they have always already been part of.

Spence’s work is about many things. There are references to the rapidly increasing digital environment that has become very present in our contemporary world. There is a focus on materiality and how it paradoxically exists and dissipates within the form of its own representation. Next to that, there is also an analytical perspective that is fuelled by the artist’s curiosity: his interest in science and the physics of light and perception. Last but not least is the spiritual element that is expressed through the depiction of physical and metaphysical transformation.

b. 1981 Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada. Lives and works in Vancouver, Canada.


2005 Batchelor of Fine Arts, University of British Columbia Okanagan 2004 Okanagan University College


Franc Gallery,Vancouver

Other Arrangments, QLICK Gallery, Amsterdam

Soft Error, Franc Gallery,Vancouver
Barking The Alphabet, BAF, Burrard Arts Foundation, Vancouver

Origins, Complesso di San Berdardino, Toffia, Italy

Altered States, Grace Gallery,Vancouver
Altered States, Inspace, Cumberland

Past and Present, Grace Gallery,Vancouver


PAN Art Fair Amsterdam, QLICK Gallery, with Nobuhiro Nakanishi, Joris van der Ploeg and Andrea Torres Balaguer
Art Hamburg, QLICK Gallery, with  Matthias Heiderich, Joris van der Ploeg, Kylli Sparre and Andrea Torres Balaguer, Hamburg
KunstRAI Amsterdam, QLICK Gallery, group show
Brussels Art Fair, QLICK Gallery, group show
QADE Art Fair Rotterdam, QLICK Gallery, solo presentation

This Art Fair, QLICK Gallery, with Kylli Sparre and Andrea Torres Balaguer, Amsterdam
Art Hamburg, QLICK Gallery, with Djojo & Versteeg, Joris van der Ploeg, Kylli Sparre, Astrid van Sterkenburg and Andrea Torres Balaguer, Hamburg
Art The Hague, QLICK Gallery, group show
KunstRAI Amsterdam, QLICK Gallery, group show
Perplexities: Space, Form and Image, Curated by Nikki Peck, with Rebecca Chaperon, Jen Mann, Sophia Borowska, Justin Somjen and Fucci, Winsor Gallery, Vancouver
Art on Paper, Franc Gallery, with Angela Grossman and Vincent Trasov, New York
Papier, Franc Gallery, with Michael Morris and Vincent Trasov, Montreal

Suffix Study No. 6, Open Art Short Film Festival, Düsseldorf, Germany
Three Kinds of Abstraction, Curated by April Thompson, With Vikky Alexander, Joi T. Arcand, James Nizam, Brian Lye, Angela Fama and Noah Spivak, Access Gallery, Vancouver
Vancouver Art Gallery Auction, Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver
Splash, Arts Umbrella Auction, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
L Space, Humber College, Toronto

Caryatids, Facade Festival, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver
Movement, Remington Gallery,Vancouver
Concurrent, Winsor Gallery, Vancouver
Wayward, Curated by Kimberly Phillips, with Brody Albert, Dana Claxton, Alexis Dirks, Jason Gowans, Maggie Groat, Lili Huston-Herterich, Laurie Kang, Colin Smith at Winsor Gallery, Vancouver

Abstract Devices, curated by James Harper, with Mike Carney at Bocs, Caernarfon, Wales Here to There, Access Gallery Annual Auction Fundraiser, Vancouver
Interplay, Moberly Arts Centre, Vancouver

Monomania II: Vancouver Emerging, Trench Gallery, Vancouver
Stenten, With Michael Morris, Vincent Trasov, Gabriel Dubois, Nicholas Galinan, Trench Gallery,

Multiplicity, 129 Gallery, Berlin
Kut&Lul, Peter Klashorst Gallery, Amsterdam
Sognando, Complesso di San Berdardino, Toffia, Italy

Forclosure, Cutty Contemporary,Vancouver
Edge of Landscape, Cutty Contemporary,Vancouver


Ed Spence in Conversation with Ian Wallace and Helga Pakasaar, Moderated by April Thompson, Access Gallery,Vancouver

Odin Cappello on Ed Spence, L Space, Humber College
Matthew Ryan Smith, The Pixel Revolution, BlackFlash Magazine

Alex Quicho, Suf(fix), HWY Magazine, Montreal/Vancouver 2014 L’Oeil de Links, Canal+ Television feature, Paris
Cut Out for Collage, Indexbook, Barcelona
Über Magazine, Lüneburg, Germany
CUT Magazine, Munich, Germany
Ed Spence Reassembles Your Absurd, Beatroute Magazine, Vancouver


The Dance Centre,Vancouver (in collaboration with Julianne Chapple)

Burrard Arts Foundation Residency

Canada Council Research Grant, (in collaboration with Julianne Chapple)

Artist Residency, Complesso di San Bernardino, 33OC, Toffia, Italy
Humber College Collection

President’s Purchase Award, CircaNow: BFA Exhibition, UBC Okanagan


Mural, South Granville, Vancouver Mural Festival

Suffix Study No. 6, Open Art Short Film Festival, Düsseldorf, Germany
Iris Film Collective: One Take Super 8, Western Front, Vancouver
Suffix Study No. 6, The Dance Centre, Vancouver (in collaboration with Julianne Chapple)
Suffix Study No. 6, Franc Gallery, Vancouver (in collaboration with Julianne Chapple)

Caryatids, Facade Festival, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver

Stand In, Interplay Project, Moberly Arts Centre, Vancouver