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Only Poetry RemainsEnlarge image

Only Poetry Remains, 2002

Carl Beam
Canadian, 1943 - 2005
photosilkscreen, gouache, graphite, coloured pencil, and watercolour on wove paper
127.8 x 242.7 cm
Purchased 2010
National Gallery of Canada (no. 43086)
© CARCC 2013

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This is one of Beam's largest works on paper. The stencilled words "The Whale of Our Being" refer to the series in which he investigates human's effect on nature. It includes a screened image of a historical portrait of an Anishinaabe family at a camp in Northern Ontario. While they are unnamed, Beam considered them as possible ancestors. Lines, grids and systems of dots cover the surface in an indecipherable code. The elk speak to presence and continuity, as do the artist's handprints. Beam reminds us of the importance of what remains.

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