National Gallery reopens on Saturday
Nine new exhibitions and installations ahead in 2023
The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) reopens its doors on Saturday, January 21, inviting visitors to share in a new year of exciting exhibitions and progress towards its vision of connecting communities through art. The Gallery was closed for two weeks for annual maintenance, which included moving its box office back to the main entrance in response to feedback from visitors and staff.
Buoyed by 2022 attendance that surpassed projections by 27 per cent, the Gallery looks forward to welcoming even more visitors as it continues work to represent and include diverse of voices of our communities. Visitor satisfaction in summer 2022 reached 93 per cent—an eight-per-cent increase from the previous year’s survey.
“Our transformative path forward is intended not only to invigorate our exhibits and our collection, but also to entice a new generation of Canadians to discover art and its power to open hearts and minds,” said NGC Interim Director and CEO Angela Cassie.
Highlights of 2022 can be found in the backgrounder below.
Currently, visitors can experience John Akomfrah’s devastatingly beautiful, heart-wrenching and timely video installation Vertigo Sea (2015), which juxtaposes footage of whale and polar bear hunting, huge schools of fish, Black human bodies in the hold of a slave ship, and refugees on makeshift rafts. Visitors can also explore Movement: Expressive Bodies in Art, which celebrates the expressive energy of the human body in works ranging from 17th-century prints to contemporary performance, painting, photographs and video—highlighting the many possibilities for human contact and interaction.
The upcoming 2023 exhibition programme will challenge and engage audiences with works from renowned artists like Paul P., Stan Douglas, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Nick Sikkuark—and transform the Gallery’s south façade outside with a monumental new work by Deanna Bowen.
Paul P.: Amor et Mors. Organized around a recently acquired selection of paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture by Toronto-based Paul P., this exhibition examines the artist’s influences and sources to bring forward a dynamic dialogue into aesthetics, desire, and queer social histories. It also features rarely seen drawings and prints by artists such as James McNeill Whistler, and Simeon Solomon. Opens February 10.
Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment. Organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, this exhibition celebrates a generation of extraordinary women painters, photographers, weavers, bead workers and sculptors from a century ago, who opened up new horizons for female artists in Canada. Opens March 3.
Deanna Bowen: The Black Canadians (after Cooke) explores Canada’s place within complex global histories of colonialism, the slave trade, and Black migration as inspired through the lens of the artist’s own family biographies and experiences. It will be displayed this spring on the Gallery’s south façade as the second instalment of the NGC’s Leading with Women initiative.
Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, presented last year at the 59th International Art Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia, draws a comparison between the events of 2011 and those of 1848, a year when European middle and working classes united in the fight against lack of democratic freedoms, restrictions on the press, and the continued dominance of an aristocratic elite. Runs September 2023 to August 2024.
Jean Paul Riopelle. This major retrospective exhibition, the highlight of the centennial celebrations of the artist’s birth, examines this 20th-century artistic pioneer through a 21st-century lens. It showcases Riopelle as a tireless experimenter and innovator anchored in the contemporary realm. Runs October 27 to April 2024.
Nick Sikkuark: Humour and Horror is the first major exhibition covering more than 30 years of work by this great Inuk artist, who was quietly successful in creating highly imaginative drawings and sculptures. The show introduces the fullness of the artist’s contribution and meaning through multiple voices and perspectives of people from Kugaaruk, Inuit art circles, and the contemporary art world. Runs November 17, 2023 to March 24, 2024.
The awards season returns in the fall with three exhibitions: Sobey Art Award 2023, 2023 New Generation Photography Award and the 2023 Governor General Awards in Visual and Media Arts, as well as the 2023 edition of the biennial Lacey Prize that recognizes resourcefulness and invention in the Canada’s vibrant artist-run sector.
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About the National Gallery of Canada
Ankosé: Everything is Connected / Tout est relié
The NGC is dedicated to amplifying voices through art and extending the reach and breadth of its collection, exhibitions program, and public activities to represent all Canadians, while centring Indigenous ways of knowing and being. Ankosé—an Anishinaabemowin word that means “everything is connected”—reflects the Gallery’s mission to create dynamic experiences that open hearts and minds, and allow for new ways of seeing ourselves, one another, and our diverse histories, through the visual arts. The NGC is home to a rich contemporary Indigenous international art collection, as well as important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian and European art from the 14th to the 21st century. Founded in 1880, the NGC has played a key role in Canadian culture for more than 140 years.
Backgrounder: A snapshot of 2022 highlights
A new Department of Indigenous Ways and Decolonization was created, stemming from the Gallery’s five-year strategic plan, “Transform Together (2021–2026).” It is led by vice-president Steven Loft, Kanien'kehá:ka of the Six Nations of the Grand River and also of Jewish heritage, and director Michelle LaVallee, who is Anishinaabe (Ojibway) and a member of the Neyaashiingmiing Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. Two new associate curators were also added to the department: Wahsontiio Cross, a Kanien’kehá:ka from the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawà:ke in Quebec, and Jocelyn Piirainen, an urban Inuk originally from Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay) in Nunavut.
Last October, the Gallery launched the multi-year initiative National Outreach to give Canadians access to art in their own communities, highlighting both Canadian and international artists. The inaugural installation A Variability Quantifier (The Fogo Island Red Weather Station), was created by artist Liam Gillick. The first three years of the National Outreach have been generously funded by Canadian philanthropist Michael Nesbitt.
Guided by Ottawa music-industry leader Kwende Kefentse, the Gallery presented Platforms, a dynamic program to activate artist Rashid Johnson’s installation Capsule (2020–2021). Consisting of conversations among thinkers, creatives and members of the wider community on themes of Black music in terms of innovation, the city and social justice, and the ecology and culture of clubs, these events can be viewed here.
The Gallery’s first multi-year Accessibility Plan (2023–2025) was released, reiterating its commitment to providing an inclusive experience for all. The development of this plan was a collaborative effort that included consultations with an external advisory group from the disability community.
General Idea, a major exhibition presented from June 3 to November 20, was ranked by Frieze magazine as one of the Top 10 Shows from Across the World. The Globe and Mail called it “the best retrospective” of 2022 and Le Devoir said the exhibition book was “outstanding” and “the last word on the collective.”
Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848 at the Venice Biennale attracted nearly 70 per cent of the event’s 800,000 attendees.
Canada and Impressionism: New Horizons, presented from March 2 to July 3, was acclaimed by La Presse as a “magnificent viewing experience” and by the Ottawa Citizen as “an exquisite new light on Impressionism.”
The 2022 Sobey Art Award, rated by the Ottawa Citizen as “a powerful new exhibition,” attracted the attention of many other media outlets across the country including APTN, CBC Arts, CBC Radio One Yukon, Galleries West, L’Aquilon, SaltWire, the Vancouver Sun and Yukon News. In November, artist Divya Mehra was named as the recipient of the $100,000 2022 Sobey Art Award prize.