Exhibition Highlights

It Is What It Is: Recent Acquisitions of New Canadian Art showcases a selection of our most recent acquisitions and reveals the unique ways contemporary Canadian artists are tackling the larger social and political state of the world through their art and how they choose interdisciplinary modes of self-expression that transcend and explode traditional categories, materials and genres. Our goal is to seek out the best and most innovative works being made today by engaging with the diverse practices of living artists working from coast to coast.

The curators of these collections immerse themselves within this artistic production without the benefit of historical hindsight and therefore must be risk takers, knowing all the while that the judgments made today will themselves be judged over time, again and again. This exhibition takes the pulse of contemporary art production in Canada as it becomes part of our national art history.

Our title, It Is What It Is, is a current catchphrase, if not to say a clichéd reply, an open-ended, matter-of-fact response that offers no clear interpretation or strategic insight, but simply states it like it is. This collection-driven exhibition has no overarching theme and as such, it does not provide one single perspective or starting point for the interpretation of the artworks presented; rather, it showcases them individually, allowing the viewer to decipher meanings and create relationships between the works.

The title was inspired by Canadian artist Ron Terada’s neon text piece It Is What It Is, It Was What It Was, a sculpture that reflects on our present-day use of language and offers a general critique on a perceived state of complacency in today’s society. It Is What It Is evokes this specific moment in time and place in which we live, and in which the artists have produced their works.

By choosing not to adopt one specific narrative, this exhibition unabashedly is what it is, a show that highlights recent acquisitions from the most significant public collection of contemporary Canadian art in the world.

Other exhibitions on view

Organized by the
National Gallery of Canada.

Supported by: