After close to 60 years of exhibitions featuring the work of some of Canada’s most celebrated artists and architects, the Canada Pavilion in Venice, Italy is undergoing a major, $3-million restoration. The designated heritage building is an important architectural landmark in the Giardini di Castello, the traditional site of the International Art and Architecture Exhibitions of La Biennale di Venezia.
The restoration work, suspended during the 57th International Art Exhibition (2017), has resumed after the closure of Geoffrey Farmer’s installation, “A way out of the mirror.” The historic restoration project, initiated by the Gallery in 2014, is being carried out by the Milanese architect Alberico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, son of one of the partners of studio architetti B.B.P.R. (Banfi, Belgiojoso, Peressutti, Rogers), working in close cooperation with Venice-based architect Troels Bruun of M+B Studio and Canadian exhibition designer Gordon Filewych of onebadant. Restored to its original 1957 design with functional upgrades, the Canada Pavilion will be officially unveiled on May 26, 2018 at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of its inauguration.
Canadian landscape architect and Order of Canada recipient, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, and Bryce Gauthier of Enns Gauthier Landscape Architects are also working in partnership with La Biennale di Venezia and the Venice Superintendent for Architectural Heritage on the redesign and replanting of the landscape surrounding the Canada Pavilion. This has been undertaken and financially supported by la Biennale within the context of a larger Giardini di Castello renewal project begun in 2013. The site now features a new pathway behind the Canada Pavilion and a platform overlooking the Laguna Veneta, while also providing an expanded space that can accommodate performance and artistic interventions.
During La Biennale 2018, the Canada Pavilion will feature the exhibition, “Canada Builds/Rebuilds a Pavilion in Venice”, which will offer an unprecedented analysis of the context in which one of Italy's most important architectural firms of the post-war era was commissioned by the National Gallery of Canada to design and build Canada’s pavilion. The exhibition will also offer a study of the building’s notable modernist architecture, as well as depictions of key moments in its sixty-year history.
Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and under the Curatorial direction of Réjean Legault, Associate Professor at the École de design of the Université du Québec à Montréal and former head of the Study Centre at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the exhibition forms part of a larger endeavour that includes a publication and short documentary film, (scheduled for release in January 2019), and videos featuring first-hand accounts from the Italian and Canadian participants in this important restoration project. The short films and videos are produced in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada.
Funding for the restoration project has been provided by the National Gallery of Canada’s Distinguished Patron and Founding Secretary of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada, Reesa Greenberg. The project has benefitted from the exceptional collaboration of La Biennale di Venezia, the Venice Superintendent for Architectural Heritage, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, as well as support from Global Affairs Canada.
History of the Canada Pavilion
The Canadian representation at La Biennale di Venezia dates to 1952, and remains the only visual arts exhibition in the world to which Canada sends official representation. It showcases Canadian artistic achievement and has been instrumental in launching and sustaining international careers for generations of the country’s most talented artists. Under the supervision of the Gallery Director at the time, Alan Jarvis, the Canada Pavilion was completed in 1957 and opened to the public on June 11, 1958 with an exhibition of the works of James Wilson Morrice, Jacques de Tonnancour, Anne Kahane, and Jack Nichols. The Gallery remains the owner and custodian of the Canada Pavilion on behalf of the Government of Canada and is the commissioner for the Canada representation at the Venice Art Biennale. In 1980 the Biennale expanded to include an international architecture exhibition, presenting in alternating years with the art exhibition. Canadian architects have used the Canada Pavilion to participate since 1991.
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 center 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 @NatGalleryCan, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
About the National Gallery of Canada Foundation
The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is dedicated to supporting the National Gallery of Canada in fulfilling its mandate. By fostering strong philanthropic partnerships, the Foundation provides the Gallery with the additional financial support required to lead Canada’s visual arts community locally, nationally and internationally. The blend of public support and private philanthropy empowers the Gallery to preserve and interpret Canada’s visual arts heritage. The Foundation welcomes present and deferred gifts for special projects and endowments. To learn more about the National Gallery of Canada Foundation, visit ngcfoundation.ca
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