Victoria art gallery temporarily closed as community mourns loss of beloved executive director

·2 min read
Adhiraj 'Raj' Sen, 42, was the executive director of Open Space, a non-profit artist-run centre in downtown Victoria. He died March 7 from complications due to cardiac arrest. (Facebook/openspacevic - image credit)
Adhiraj 'Raj' Sen, 42, was the executive director of Open Space, a non-profit artist-run centre in downtown Victoria. He died March 7 from complications due to cardiac arrest. (Facebook/openspacevic - image credit)

"Just a tremendous guy."

That's how Charles Campbell, board chair for Open Space gallery in downtown Victoria, will remember his beloved colleague, Adhiraj "Raj" Sen, who died March 7 after complications from cardiac arrest.

Sen, who had been the executive director of the non-profit, artist-run centre since 2018, is credited by Campbell for having a very positive impact on the space in a short period of time.

In the wake of Sen's unexpected death, Open Space is shuttered to the public until March 17 as staff and volunteers take time to mourn and support one another.

According to an obituary in the Times Colonist, Sen graduated from high school in Courtenay, B.C. in 1996 and attended the University of Victoria. He is survived by his wife, Angela Sen, and two children, eight-year-old Kiran and five-year-old Mira. He was 42 when he died.

In a social media post, the gallery describes Sen as being "an incredible and indescribable presence" who, in less than three years at the centre, started a new "inclusive and exciting chapter."

Campbell, speaking on CBC's On The Island Thursday, said Sen really focused on bulding trusting relationships with local Indigenous communities and created the centre's elder-in-residence program.


Sen had spent five years working in the international contemporary art world before coming to Open Space, including a role as director of the Singapore branch of Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Campbell said Sen used his overseas connections to also bring more international artists into the Victoria gallery and was committed to making the centre a more diverse space reflective of diverse artists.

"He was just a tremendous, tremendous force," said Campbell, adding Sen came into the space during a difficult time and repaired relationships with funders that resulted in more staff and more programming.

But Sen was never one to want for the spotlight, said Campbell, describing him as humble, calm and incredible at lifting others up.

"You feel like the light is coming from you but really he had a way of bringing it out of people," said Campbell.

Messages of care, condolences and memories can be sent to careof@openspace.ca, and will be passed on to the family.

LISTEN | Charles Campbell remembers his colleague and friend Adhiraj "Raj" Sen: