Discover the universal language of Alex Janvier, one of Canada’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, in this major retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada.

About the Exhibition

Alex Janvier is one of Canada’s most acclaimed contemporary artists. His unique and authentic style, a combination of Indigenous and modern art influences and techniques, is not seen anywhere else in the world. Universal in appeal, his paintings reference Indigenous culture and history, as well as his own outlook on life.  

Art truly is a universal language that can communicate any idea, any feeling, of anyone, regardless of their social standing, their religious beliefs or the language they speak.

– Alex Janvier

This retrospective celebrates Janvier’s life-long career devoted to art, knowledge and creativity. Featuring more than 150 paintings and drawings, the exhibition invites visitors to fully explore the artist’s distinct style, with its vivid colours and calligraphic lines.

On display are renowned masterpieces such as Untitled (1986) and Lubicon (1988), as well many drawings from his early years spent at residential school. Also included is an entire room of circle paintings, an unusual shape of artwork mastered by Janvier. Several of the works presented are on view for the first time.

Don’t wait. Immerse yourself in Alex Janvier's universe at the National Gallery of Canada.

Alex Janvier, August Days, 2015, watercolour on paper, 91.4 cm (diameter). Courtesy of the artist and Janvier Gallery, Cold Lake First Nations © Alex Janvier. Photo: NGC

About the Artist

Of Denesuline and Saulteaux descent, Alexandre Simeon Janvier was born in 1935 on the Le Goff Reserve in Alberta, where he had a traditional upbringing speaking the Dene language. At the age of eight, he became a pupil at the Blue Quills Indian Residential School, where he was encouraged to pursue art.

My art is truly North American… it has its Indigenous roots. Some of my artwork is healing for myself and for anyone who wants to accept it that way.

– Alex Janvier

For over 50 years, Janvier has devoted himself to the development of Indigenous art as an artist, activist, educator and government consultant. Celebrated and honoured on many occasions, in 2002, Janvier received a National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award and he was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2007.

Janvier is a prolific artist. He has produced thousands of paintings and continues to paint in his home and studio in Cold Lake, Alberta.

Photo Credit: Kim Griffiths.

3 Things to Know about Alex Janvier

Pioneer Artist

Alex Janvier has opened the way for other Aboriginal artists by bringing Indigenous beliefs, aesthetics and issues to the foreground. He was among the first Indigenous students to obtain a degree from an art college when he graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and Art (now the Alberta College of Art and Design) in 1960.

He was also a founding member of the Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporated Inc. (PNIAI), also known as the Indian Group of Seven, a collective established in 1973 to highlight the work of contemporary Indigenous artists.

Connected to the Land

Alex Janvier has a deep connection with the Land. Having lived most of his life on the Denesuline traditional territory in the Cold Lake First Nation, Janvier attaches great importance to its Indigenous roots and to the idea of a long time relation to particular places and physical landmarks. This concept of ownership, or landlordship as Janvier names it, is an integral part of his creative processes. Using a rich visual language marked by colors, symbols and calligraphic lines, Janvier evokes various elements of the Land such as landscapes, natural events, animals and so forth, in a way that conveys immediate emotions.

Master of Murals

Alex Janvier is known for his impressive murals mixing representational and abstract art. In 1993, he was commissioned by the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now the Canadian Museum of History) to create the ceiling dome mural, Morning Star. This major artwork that covers a surface of 418 m2 pays tribute to the Dene hunters and trappers who used the morning star as a guiding light during winter. Janvier’s remarkable works of public art can be admired in more than 25 locations across Canada. 


Exhibition Opening: Alex Janvier
Thursday 24 November at 6 pm

Scotiabank Great Hall and Special Exhibitions Galleries
Free admission. Everyone welcome!
Abstraction and colour awaits you in this major retrospective dedicated to one of Canada’s most renowned contemporary artists.  Join us for the official opening of Alex Janvier, and be among the first to discover more than 150 works by the artist, including several that have never been on public display.

In Conversation with Alex Janvier
Saturday 26 November 2016 at 2 pm
Auditorium. Free admission
Alex Janvier talks about his career in painting and work as an Indigenous artist in Canada with Audain Senior Curator of Indigenous Art Greg Hill. In English with simultaneous interpretation.

Stories, Art and Alex: A Live Demonstration by Master Artist Alex Janvier
Sunday 5 March 2017 from 1 to 3 pm
Scotiabank Great Hall

Join us for a live art demonstration with Master artist, Alex Janvier, whose exhibition is on view until 17 April 2017.

The event promises an intimate and entertaining experience, as Alex draws and sketches while sharing stories about his life and work in conversation with Jaime Koebel, Educator, Indigenous Outreach and Programs.

Included with admission to the Gallery. No registration required. Limited seating available on a first-come-first-served basis. In English, with a bilingual question-and-answer period.

Meet the Expert: Greg Hill
Saturday 25 March at 1 pm
In the exhibition space. Included with admission to the Gallery

Meet Greg Hill, curator of Alex Janvier and Audain Senior Curator of Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Canada. He will take you on a special tour of the exhibition and provide insight into Janvier’s unique style of painting through selected key works. In English with bilingual question period.

NGC Lecture Series: From Cold Lake to the Nation: Conservation Challenges of the Janvier Exhibition
Wednesday 8 March 2017 from 10:30 – 11:30 am
Auditorium. Ticket required
Meet Spencer Montcalm, Painting Conservation Technician from the Restoration and Conservation Laboratory at the National Gallery of Canada. Spencer is dedicated to preparing the paintings of Alex Janvier for the artist’s career retrospective. He will share some of the conservation challenges and provide insight on how the NGC and the artist worked collaboratively to find creative solutions. In English. See the NGC Lecture Series website for details.

Note: A separate French presentation, De Cold Lake à la scène nationale : les défis de la préparation pour l’exposition Janvier, will be offered on Wednesday 15 March 2017 from 10:30 to 11:30 am in the Lecture Hall.

Private Group Tours for Adults
From Tuesday 29 November 2016 to Sunday 16 April 2017
In the exhibition space, Cost: $7 + Gallery admission, Reservations required
Discover the exhibition Alex Janvier and learn more about Janvier’s life experiences and career during a one-hour guided tour for adults. In English and French. Groups must include a minimum of 10 people. Please contact to book a tour. 

Tours for High School Students: Alex Janvier
Grades 7 to 12
Available Tuesday through Friday from 29 November 2016 to 14 April 2017

Cost: $7 per student (includes Gallery admission). Duration: 1 hour
Students explore the retrospective exhibition that celebrates the work of Alberta artist Alex Janvier and learn how his lifetime of creativity, knowledge and perspective are revealed through his colourful abstract paintings. To register, please call 613-990-4888 or fill out the reservation form online.

Discovery Tour for Students: Alex Janvier
Grades 4 to 6
Available Tuesday through Friday from 29 November 2016 to 14 April 2017
From 10 to 11:30 am or from 12 to 1:30 pm
Cost: $6 per student (includes Gallery admission). Duration: 90 minutes
Through a series of creative and fun activities, students discover Alex Janvier and explore his work to gain a better understanding of the more complex ideas presented in the exhibition. To register, please call 613-990-4888 or fill out the reservation form online.

Partner Activity

Carleton University Lecture:
Aesthetic Practices as Indigenous Actions

Thursday 17 November at 6 pm
In the Lecture Hall. Free admission
Join Jolene Rickard, an Associate Professor of Art History at Cornell University and Director of its American Indian Program, for a special lecture organized by Carleton University that explores Indigenous art in America and global indigeneity. In English only.

Outreach Activity

Alex Janvier at Wabano
Friday November 25 2016 from 7 to 9 pm
299 Montreal Road, Ottawa ON
Free admission. RSVP:
Meet Alex Janvier for an intimate discussion about his life, his experience of residential school and his profession as a contemporary artist. A Dene artist from the Cold Lake First Nation, Janvier is featured in a major retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada from 25 November 2016 to 17 April 2017. Event in English with a bilingual question period.

The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health is a place of belonging and a caring community for Ottawa’s Aboriginal population. Each year, it provides programs, services and cultural events to over 10,000 people.

Educational and programming components of the exhibition supported by the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD)

Plan your Visit

Exhibition hours
25 November 2016 – 17 April 2017
Monday: Closed (see exceptions)
Tuesday – Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm
Thursday: 10 am to 8 pm
*For additional information on Gallery hours, please click here.

Adults: $12
Seniors (65 +): $10
Students (with valid ID): $10
Youth (age 12–19): $6
Children (age 11 and under): Free
Members: Free (become a member)
All prices include tax.

Getting Here
National Gallery of Canada, 380 Sussex Drive, Ottawa. Google Map.

Contact Us
Have a question about visiting the National Gallery of Canada? Don’t hesitate to get in touch. Contact us at 613-990-1985 or 1-800-319-ARTS and via email at or check out our list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Cafétéria des Beaux-Arts
Designed to serve families and groups in an informal, self-service atmosphere. Choose from three daily specials, salad and dessert bars, made-to-order sandwiches and more. Closes a half-hour before Gallery shuts.

Underground Parking
$2.75 per half hour, daily maximum $14 (Members $12). The clearance for our underground parking garage is 6 feet. Parking also permitted on adjacent streets. Learn more about other on-site amenities at the National Gallery.

Consult the list of our hotel partners to help plan your stay. Note: hotel packages are subject to change and may not include admission to the National Gallery of Canada. Please contact the hotel directly to confirm details and to book your stay.

Discover our extensive range of art-related products at

Exhibition Catalogue$40.00

Alex Janvier
Paperback • 200 pages • English


Morning Star Mug$11.95


Top Image:
Alex Janvier, Untitled, 1986, acrylic on canvas, 165.1 × 266.7 cm. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (42867) © Alex Janvier. Photo: NGC

Third Image:
Alex Janvier, Intertribal Indians Unlimited, 1990, acrylic on canvas, 175 × 697 cm. Collection of Glenbow Museum, Calgary © Alex Janvier

Fourth Image:
Alex Janvier, Coming of the Opposite, 1972, acrylic on canvas, 61.3 × 92.3 cm. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (41203) © Alex Janvier. Photo: NGC

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