The National Gallery of Canada has reopened after the most recent pandemic lockdown with a new exhibition of Rembrandt and a lofty new vision for its future that aims to connect to more diverse voices and audiences through critical conversations in art. In this vain they have taken what was slated to be a pretty standard Rembrandt exhibition and infused it with Black and Indigenous voices and artists that broaden the scope of the exhibition to reflect on the time period that Rembrandt lived in and how it connects to colonization and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The exhibition runs until September 6th so there are still a few more weeks to see it!
Since I’ve been unable to travel for over a year I’ve enjoyed exploring my own city. Even though I’ve lived in Ottawa my whole life there are areas of the city I’ve never explored and new things that I’ve discovered. One of the fun things I’ve been doing is seeking out public art around the city. Unity by Yasaman Mehrsa is a recent installation on the steps down to the Rideau Canal in between the National Arts Centre and the new Senate of Canada building. This beautiful artwork has a lovely message too. The houses represent humans and the pathways represent nature, but together they symbolize unity. Ottawa has so much to offer and there is so much to explore in this wonderful city, especially at times like these. Now that the weather is getting warmer I can’t wait to get back out exploring.
Now more than ever it’s important to support your local arts institutions. Covid-19 has had a major impact on the tourist industry and the arts. When the National Gallery of Canada reopened in July I visited and it was so nice to be back at one of my favourite places. With limited capacity and mandatory mask wearing I felt very safe visiting. During normal times I find it easy to visit the NGC without crowds and now it’s even less busy. If you have the chance please go out and support your local arts institutions (as long as you feel safe doing so and don’t have any symptoms of course). Also be sure to check the National Gallery of Canada’s website for up-to-date information about opening hours and regulations. Continue reading for some photos of the beautiful empty gallery spaces.
Àbadakone|Continuous Fire|Feu continuel at the National Gallery of Canada had ended after an amazing (an extended run thanks to Covid). This amazing exhibition featuring the work of more than 70 international contemporary Indigenous artists from 16 countires is one of those exhibitions that makes the National Gallery of Canada a special institution. Even though this exhibition is over I wanted to share some images of it.
On our way home from a little weekend trip to northern Québec we decide to take a little detour to pass through Québec City to see the exhibition Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. I had hoped to write a little review of this exhibition but instead I’m going to share my experience of visiting a blockbuster exhibition in the time of Covid-19.
Last time I was down around Toronto I stopped into the Art Gallery of Ontario to see their new exhibition, Brian Jungen Friendship Centre (June 20 – August 25, 2019). Jungen is a Dane-Zaa / Swiss artist based in British Columbia. Although a lot of his artwork is related to his Indigenous heritage he also looks at issues of environmentalism and consumerism. Jungen is probably best know for his mask sculptures that use Nike Air Jordan sneakers to create Indigenous style masks. The new exhibition at the AGO is the largest exhibition of his work and is meant to be an in-depth exploration of his artwork.
The Ottawa Art Gallery‘s current exhibition Karim Rashid: Cultural Shaping presents “the first large-scale presentation of the iconic designer’s work in Canada to date.” It features over 200 of Rashid’s unique designs ranging from tables and chairs to shoes and Pepsi bottles. I was interested to see this exhibition since it’s rare that we see these kinds of design exhibits in Ottawa and I wanted to learn more about this designer who I only vaguely knew. However, after seeing the exhibit I feel like I really didn’t learn anything and instead visited a showroom, not a gallery.
A little while has past since I saw the Anthropocene exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario – AGO in Toronto, and it’s given me some time to reflect. Since then I’ve even gone back to the National Gallery of Canada to see their iteration of the exhibition again, read my review here! It’s hard not to compare and contrast the two approaches to the exhibition and its design since I studied curating in university so now going to exhibitions I find it really hard not to critic everything from wall colour, text panels and lighting to the overarching curatorial idea and artworks themselves. But it’s also rare that you get to see essentially the same exhibit done in two different ways.
Anthropocene is a new exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. It includes work by renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky and Emmy award-winning documentary filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. The exhibition “explore the impact of human activity on Earth through photography, film installations and interactive technologies.” The exhibition runs until February 24th, 2019. Its companion exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto runs until January 6th, 2019, which will be part 2 of my review that you can read here!