Collection: Donna Seto

The exhibition Re-Imagining Chinatown, captures Vancouver’s Chinatown through vibrant colours cast upon the area’s unique architecture. Seto blends the fluidity of watercolour with the permanence of ink to create playful depictions of Chinatown’s historical buildings, drawing attention to the area's tastes and sounds through splashes of colour on shopfronts and restaurants. Embedded in the paintings are questions regarding place and memory and the opportunity to create a dialogue that unravels and re-imagines a Chinatown that once was and could be. Through dreamy windows and shopfronts full of goods, Seto further depicts how buildings are more than just brick and mortar but keepers of secrets and history.

Influenced by historic photographs of Vancouver, the paintings portray Chinatown during its thriving days when businesses such as Cathay Importers, Ming Wo Cookware, Marco Polo Supper Club, and Ho Ho’s Restaurant were key pillars of the community. The paintings also celebrate the gathering places of Societies such as the Chinese Benevolent Association, Mah Society, and the Chin Wing Chun Society as well as their efforts in building a community for newcomers to Canada.

Re-Imagining Chinatown is supported by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation – Yosef Wosk Publication Grant and the Canada Council for the Arts. The paintings featured in this exhibition are part of a larger series that will be published as an illustrated history book.

20% of all sales from this exhibition will be donated to the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation.