Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Can't wait for summer: Alex Colville @ National Gallery

Happy New Year!

Freezing cold in Ottawa – I can't wait for the great summer exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada: Alex Colville (1920-2013).

More than 100 works will be presented, and will give a remarkable overview and insight in his Oeuvre. If you don't want to wait, here's the link to the online exhibition:


Alex Colville
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
23 April – 7 September, 2015

Organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario with the generous collaboration of the National Gallery of Canada.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays!

I wish all my readers happy holidays and a wonderful new year. I am sure it will be an exciting one!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Little Something

At the Mlacak Centre, Kanata: Kanata Civic Art Gallery (KCAG)

Kanata Civic Art Gallery's smalls show "A Little Something" takes place on on Saturday. Just in time for Christmas!
I actually couldn't see the works which will be on display on Saturday, but my photos will give you an impression of works by Kanata artists showing there:

Kanata Civic Art Gallery's "A Little Something"
December 13th, 2014, 10 am – 4 pm
Mlacak Centre, Kanata

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tis the season...

Herrnhut Star - a typical German Christmas decoration. Isn't it beautiful!?

...to go Christmas shopping. Here are a couple of great exhibitions and events in December which provide a wonderful opportunity to buy unique, creative gifts:

Open House at The Rectory Art House tonight!
December 3rd 2014, 5:00pm

Studio Sixtysix
Under $500 Holiday Show and Fundraiser

Featuring : Gallery and Guest Artists
Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Printmaking, Jewellery, Objects
Runs Nov. 27 - Jan. 2014

Cube Gallery: Great BIG smalls X
Welcome to Cube’s tenth annual Christmas show of small works with BIG heart!
December 2nd, 2014 to January 4th, 2015

Carp X-mas Market
December 5-6, 2014, Friday 3 to 8 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Joy - Kanata Civic Art Gallery Exhibition
November 24h - Jan 2015

The Ottawa School of Art Holiday art show and sale
The Ottawa School of Art – Downtown & Orleans Campus Galleries present their 30th Annual Holiday Fundraising Art Sale. The exhibition features a wide range of original, unique and affordable works of art created by the students, instructors and alumni of the School in a wide variety of media, sizes and prices.
Works will be on display from: November 27 – December 14, 2014.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Artists' books @ the National Gallery

National Gallery of Canada

Interested in artists' books? Curious what the Library and Archives at the National Gallery of Canada hold? It's not only the most extensive collection of visual literature in Canada with its 250,000 documents, including books, exhibition catalogues, bound periodicals, microforms, documentation files, study photographs, institutional archives and private papers. It's such a wonderful space for studies, with wide windows, where you can just sit and for example admire the amazing sculpture “100 Foot Line” (2010) by Roxy Paine.

Roxy Paine: 100 Foot Line, 2010, behind the National Gallery of Canada

The NGC has invited some guest speakers to present some of the interesting library holdings: Corinn Gerber (Director of Art Metropole, Toronto), Jonathan Shaughnessy (Associate Curator, Contemporary Art, NGC), Ming Tiampo (Associate Professor, Art History, Carleton University) and Adam Welch (Associate Curator, Modern Canadian Art, NGC) have selected two to three artists’ books from the collection, and will talk about them next Thursday. That may be a wonderful opportunity to get in insight in the library and in rather unknown artists' books...


Library and Archives Reading Room
Thursday 27 November 6:00 – 7:00 PM
For further information, please contact Peter Trepanier (613-990-0587)

In English, with bilingual question period to follow. The selected books will be available for consultation in the Reading Room.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Nuit Blanche 2014 @ The Rectory a big success

Art installations at The Rectory Art House attracted a huge audience during Nuit Blanche last Saturday. Participating artists Karen Bailey, Lori Victor, and Karen Rasmussen dealt with this years’s theme “Bypass” in entirely different ways:

Karen Bailey with "Passage", Nuit Blanche 2014, at The Rectory Art House.
Karen Bailey's “Passage” was an installation of a wonderful painting depicting a gravedigger at her mother's funeral. Once again, Bailey focused on people behind the scenes as in her previous series like "Cut" (2005-2007), or "Are you being served?"(2004-2005). Visitors were encouraged to place down flowers underneath the shrine, while a white Madonna (which belongs to the office at The Rectory by the way) watched them graciously. Bailey's work “bypasses more traditional forms of grieving” and reflects on her personal loss.

"Cut-Outs" by Lori Victor at The Rectory Art House.

Lori Victor engages in discussions with visitors about her installation "Cut-Outs" during Ottawa's Nuit Blanche 2014.

Lori Victor's installation instead was political: Her “Cut-Outs” at the second floor showed strings of more than 4,000 cut-out figures of an Ottawa Citizen article reporting that over 4,000 aboriginal children died in residential schools. A powerful, meaningful installation that led to interesting and controversial discussions all night long. Victor's second installation “Ottawa's Kitimat” refers to the pipeline through Ottawa carrying tar sand bitumen from Alberta.

Lori Victor's "Ottawa's Kitimat"

Karen Rasmussen's “Closing Time?”, an installation of chairs, stools, books, and clocks focused on personal challenges. Her installation is according to the artist “a decision-making chamber for considering changes we face and for figuring out our next move. A chance to bypass the usual anxiety of change, forego meds and psychotherapy, and take art instead.” What a great approach!

Karen Rasmussen's "Closing Time?" at Nuit Blanche 2014.

A wonderful addition to the art at The Rectory were the Ottawa Storytellers. They told enlightening, thoughtful, serious, sad, and sometimes even humorous tales in response to the paintings and installations.

Ottawa Storyteller before Karen Bailey's "Passage" during Nuit Blanche.

Ottawa Storyteller before Karen Bailey's "Passage" during Nuit Blanche.

Artists' websites:
Karen Rasmussen: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.138248893037302.1073741834.121343688061156&type=1&_fb_noscript=1

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A.Y. Jackson and Otto Dix – Art influenced by the First World War

The Canadian War Museum, Ottawa
“Transformations. A.Y. Jackson and Otto Dix – Art shaped by War” is the current special exhibition at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa. I finally had a chance to visit that excellent show.

The exhibition sheds light on the artistic development of Canadian painter A.Y. Jackson (1882–1974), and German painter Otto Dix (1891-1969). These important 20th century artists are somewhat comparable, since both witnessed the First World War as soldiers. And the experiences they made had later a huge influence on their art. The War Museum's focus lies in particular on their landscapes, even though Dix is rather known for his critical and provoking depiction of the Weimar Society and the 1st World War, and turned to landscapes only later in life. Jackson instead is widely known for his Canadian landscapes.

The exhibition shows the parallel development of Jackson and Dix in five sections: Early Years (1882-1914), First World War (1914-1918), Post-War (1919-1932), Nazi Germany and the Second World War (1933-1945), and Later Years (1946-1974). To me it was very interesting to see how Dix' early landscapes were influence by Post-Impressionism (e.g. Van Gogh) and the Romantic tradition, in particular Caspar David Friedrich. Spending a couple of years in Dresden myself, I can imagine how Dix, who did grow up close by, was influence by that tradition since it is visible everywhere (very good collection at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden BTW). But Dix was also influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche's writings, and Futurist and Apocalyptic Art what the exhibition demonstrates. That's compared to Jackson on the other side of the room (very good set-up for an exhibition to demonstrate the similarities of the two artists, in which the exhibition rooms are divided with Jackson on the right, and Dix on the left side), shedding light on Jackson's travels to Europe and his interest in the Canadian landscape after his return 1912. The exhibition also makes clear what impact his European studies had on his later landscape paintings.

Main focus of the exhibition is of course the enrolment of both artists in the First World War as soldiers and how they became witnesses of destruction and atrocities. Both created landscape art during and after the war which reflects their experiences of the conflict. Dix and Jackson were both soldiers, and Jackson, after wounded in 1916, became an official war artist in 1917.

Both express brutal destructiveness of the war in their landscapes, but do that very, very differently: Dix showed the brutal reality with gruel paintings as well as drawings of death, mutilated and rotting corpses, while Jackson shows the destructiveness in an indirect way by painting shattered trees in an rather Impressionist style. His landscapes were still beautiful, even though they show battlefields of the First World War! Dix' intentions were therefore different from Jackson's – even if his landscapes play an important compositional role in his major works like “The War” (1932), the depiction of death and atrocities is the main focus of his post-war works. His paintings and prints of German soldiers as victims led to under the Nazis to the defamation of his works as “degenerated” art, and forced Dix to an “inner exile” after the Nazis had him sacked from his post as an art teacher at the Dresden Academy of Art.

On the other hand, in the Canadian part of the exhibition, we see how Jackson was one leading founder of the Group of Seven in 1920, and how his landscapes were strongly influenced by his experiences in the First World War. The exhibition demonstrates why his landscape art is widely accepted as an expression of Canadian Identity. It's a fascinating show about two entirely different artists whose works and lives were shaped by their experiences of war.

Furthermore, I had a chance to visit at the other remarkable exhibition at the War Museum “Witness - Canadian Art of the First World War”. It shows how Canadians depicted their First World War experiences in art, both at home and overseas. One painting in particular stroked me: “The Sunken Road” by Frederick Varley (1919). While working as an artist for the Canadian War Records Department Varley witnessed combat on the front lines. He depicted what war was really like, in clearly showing destruction and cruelties, like corpses lying on a abandoned battlefield. I found that much more analogous to Dix' work than Jackson's which never shows the brutality of the war directly. But maybe that's one of the intentions of the “Transformations”-exhibition: How witnessing a war can impact Oeuvres and lives in totally different ways ...

Both exhibitions were extended until September 26th, 2014.

Canadian War Museum, Ottawa. Unfortunately, it's not allowed to take photos inside the exhibition.

Transformations – A. Y. Jackson and Otto Dix
Canadian War Museum
April 10, 2014 - September 26, 2014 (extended!)