A Visit to the Rennie Collection

It probably says a lot about me that I’d never heard of Bob Rennie the “condo king” before visiting the new gallery showing his art collection. Along with his reputation as a top name in Vancouver real estate, he’s also a passionate collector of contemporary art and is the owner of the third largest private art collection in Canada. The newly renovated Wing Sang building, located on Pender Street in Chinatown, houses the aforementioned gallery owned by Rennie. I visited the other week to view it’s second ever show.

(An example of Richard Jackson’s work. Not from the show).

The current exhibition is a retrospective of the collected works of Richard Jackson. He’s a contemporary artist working with painting and sculpture, and is very much influenced by his background as an engineer. He’s all about the concept of what he creates rather than the content and uses multiple canvases and thick layers of paint to create wildly colourful abstract installations across the walls. Many of his pieces involve a huge amount of paint and were created on site in the gallery. I was really impressed with the show not just for the quality of the work but because of how well the show was put together. It’s rare to see an art show in Vancouver as tightly curated and as polished at this one was.

Even if contemporary art is not your thing, the architecture alone is worth a visit. The Wing Sang building is one of the oldest in Chinatown and they’ve done an extraordinary job of restoring it while maintaining some of the original details. My favorite spot was the rooftop garden with its excellent view of the city. The space is half covered in aged metal beams as a patio, and half in a lush lawn with two permanently installed sculptures from the collection. There were also red poppies blooming in planters placed around the edges of the roof and a blue sky overhead to complete the picture of a lovely oasis hidden from the city. I could’ve stayed up there for hours enjoying the sun.

To go on a guided tour of the Rennie Collection you need to reserve a space on their website. The tours are free and take place three times a day on Tuesday and Thursdays with a maximum of fifteen people at a time. I highly recommend you do it.