A major retrospective celebrating one of Canada’s most acclaimed contemporary artists at the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) presents the largest retrospective devoted to Alex Janvier, one of Canada’s most respected Indigenous artists. The exhibition, which opens November 26 and runs until April 17, 2017, features a selection of well-known masterpieces from Janvier’s seven decade long career, along with paintings that are on display for the very first time.
“The Alex Janvier exhibition recounts the story of a life devoted to art and the re-empowerment of Indigenous cultures,” said NGC Director and CEO Marc Mayer. “Alex Janvier is among the most important figures in the development of modern Indigenous art in Canada and the National Gallery has long envisioned a major solo exhibition dedicated to him.”
Alex Janvier’s artistic universe is a rich visual language marked by color, symbols and calligraphic features evoking different elements of the Land such as landscapes, natural phenomena and animals in a way that instantly conveys emotions. His works reference Indigenous culture and history, as well as his own outlook on life.
Born of Denesuline and Saulteaux descent, Janvier has paved the way for many Aboriginal artists by putting forward beliefs, aesthetics and Indigenous issues. Having lived most of his life on the traditional Denesuline territory of the Cold Lake First Nation, he attaches great importance to his native roots and to the idea of a close relationship with particular places and physical landmarks.
Alex Janvier began painting while a pupil at the Blue Quills Indian Residential School near St. Paul, Alberta. He received formal art training from the Alberta Institute of Technology and Art in Calgary (now the Alberta College of Art and Design) where he graduated, with honours, in 1960.
About the exhibition
Organized chronologically, with some rooms devoted to thematic groupings, the exhibition presents 154 paintings and drawings, including an installation of 34 circular paintings of varied sizes and styles created since the 1970s, titled Janvier in the Round. The works featured in the exhibition are drawn from public and private collections across Canada, including five from the National Gallery of Canada’s national collection.
Known for his brightly coloured murals with their Dene iconography and forms that evoke land, sky, galaxies, microscopic life and calligraphic lines, Alex Janvier has created public art that can be admired in 25 locations across Canada. His largest mural – Morning Star–Gambeh Then’ –, painted on a domed ceiling in the Canadian Museum of History in 1993, has been captured on video and is projected on a giant screen in the first room of the exhibition.
The Alex Janvier exhibition also features a room that pays homage to the so-called Indian Group of Seven, officially known as Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., co-founded by Janvier in 1973 to heighten the profile of Indigenous artists. This section of the exhibition comprises paintings that Janvier created in 2011 in tribute to artists Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Daphne Odjig, Norval Morrisseau, Carl Ray, Bill Reid, and Joseph M. Sanchez.
The National Gallery of Canada gratefully thanks Michael and Renae Tims for their support of the exhibition. The educational and programming components of the exhibition are supported by the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD)
More information about the artist, the exhibition and related activities can be found at gallery.ca/Janvier.
On Thursday, November 24, at 6 p.m., the public is invited to the official opening of the exhibition in the Scotiabank Great Hall. An Honouring Ceremony will be followed by remarks from Alex Janvier, the exhibition curator Greg Hill, who is the Gallery’s Audain Senior Curator of Indigenous Art, and the Gallery’s Director and CEO, Marc Mayer. Admission is free.
The remarkable career of Alex Janvier is celebrated in a retrospective exhibition catalogue from the National Gallery of Canada. This 200-page paperback catalogue published by the NGC features essays by the exhibition curator and Audain Senior Curator of Indigenous art, NGC, Greg Hill; Chris Dueke, an independent scholar, and Lee-Ann Martin, former Curator of Contemporary Canadian Aboriginal Art at the Canadian Museum of History It is on sale at the Boutique for $40 as well as at ShopNGC.ca, the Gallery’s online boutique.
A series of public activities is organized in conjunction with the exhibition, including a conversation with Alex Janvier, a meeting with the exhibition curator Greg Hill, discovery tours, and much more. For more details, visit gallery.ca/janvier
NGCmagazine.ca, the National Gallery of Canada’s online magazine, is a frequently updated source of information on the Canadian art world and events at the National Gallery of Canada. Correspondents from across the country provide engaging and exclusive content on historical and contemporary art in Canada. This online magazine also includes interviews with artists.
Tickets: $12 (adults); $10 (seniors and full-time students); $6 (youth: 12-19); $24 (families: two adults and three youth). Admission is free for children under the age of 12 and for Members.
The Gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays until 8 p.m. Closed Mondays. Open between December 26 and 31, and on January 2. Closed on December 25 and January 1. For more information call 613-990-1985 or 1-800-319-ARTS.
About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st centuries, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. In 2015, the National Gallery of Canada established the Canadian Photography Institute, a global multidisciplinary research centre dedicated to the history, evolution and future of photography. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. For more information, visit gallery.ca and follow us on Twitter @gallerydotca.
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For more information, organize an interview, or to obtain images, please contact:
Josée-Britanie Mallet, Senior Media and Public Relations Officer
National Gallery of Canada
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