‘The 100’ #35 – Ron Terada…

Ron Terada (born 1969) is a Vancouver born and based conceptual artist  working in various media, including painting, photography, video, sound, books, and graphic design. He uses signage and advertising as art forms and is best known for his monochromatic and neon signs onto which he transposes text.

(All credits due at bottom of page. Click on images for larger version).

On the left is a text-based artwork by Terada from 2010 that references Vancouver’s legendary neon past. It is installed outside of Vancouver’s iconic public library and this location emphasizes the art work’s message. Terada writes of this work: “The sign takes its cues from an era of signage when signs were seen as celebratory, grand and iconic – in effect, as landmarks in their own right, a kind of symbolic architecture… Taken within the context of a public library, the work touches upon – in a very poetic way – the use of words and language as boundless and imaginative, as a catalyst for a multiplicity of meanings.”  The tension between ‘words’ and ‘pictures’ is both real and not real – an idea explored by Magritte in his painting: The Treachery of Images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe); and this Terada work is testament to the way we read pictures and the way we see words.

Above is Ron Terada’s neon text piece: It Is What It Is, It Was What It Was, a sculpture that reflects on our present-day use of language and offers a general critique on a perceived state of complacency in today’s society. It Is What It Is evokes this specific moment in time and place in which we live, and in which the artist has produced his works.     (Ron Terada: It is What it Is, It Was What It Was, 2008, 15 mm white neon tubing, 91.5 × 449.6 cm installed. Purchased 2009. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa).

On the left is Terada’s Five Coloured Words in Neon (2003). Here Terada explores the poetic potential of the everyday, north American vernacular. It is deadpan, intelligent, emotional and strangely humorous.

Terada received his Fine Arts diploma in 1991 from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, British Columbia. . From 1998-2007 he held a sessional faculty position at the same institution. He also attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the University of British Columbia.

Left is Ron Terada’s Stay Away from Lonely Places, 2005. (Installation view, Ikon gallery, Birmingham, England, White neon, brushed aluminum, Plexiglass, wood, paint). For this exhibition, Terada created a neon sign reading “Stay Away from Lonely Places”, from the Willie Nelson song title. Inside the gallery, a series of photographs document a variety of local signs he encountered. With their visual idiosyncracies or odd turn of phrases, the signs viewed in isolation are terse and cryptic

Ron Terada’s photography, light-boxes, video projects and neon works draw on content from everyday sources. Through his juxtaposition of text and images, he references popular culture and art history traditions, often taking texts from such items as outdoor signage to create other layers of meaning. His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in Canada, the United States and Europe.

See Other Side of Sign, by Ron Terada. 2006. Courtesy of the artist and Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver.




This (left) Terada piece, Temporary, riffs on the Vancouver Park Board’s tendency of adding text to their public plantings.

Ron Terada’s practice calls attention to existing cultural forms and their operation as signs. Past works have adapted gallery signage, posters, brochures, and exhibition soundtracks to question the statements of cultural institutions.

Terada is represented by the Catriona Jeffries Gallery based in Vancouver.

Credits for Images and information: Wikipedia / Google Images / Catrionia Jeffries Gallery.

‘The 100′ series was initiated by my 100th Post in April 2012. As text and images are the essence of my blog my intention is to present 100 pieces of textual art from historical and contemporary artists and from my own hand. To view the series to date click on ‘The 100’ in my Category Menu.