WAG shows celebrate the Inuit North and the Rockies
Winnipeg Art Gallery presents Looking Up and The End—Rocky Mountains
Winnipeg is known for its hot contemporary art scene. We also, at the WAG, have the largest public collection of Inuit art in the world, numbering almost 13,000 works. According to curator Paul Butler, that’s not a coincidence. In Looking Up, Butler starts with eight local artists who have acknowledged a northern influence in their art. Each was asked to create new work in response to work by Inuit artists and to choose pieces from the WAG vaults to exhibit alongside their own.
There are stand-out works here from Aganetha Dyck, Simon Hughes, Jeanette Johns, Paul Robles, Michael Dumontier and more. And the works they have picked from the Inuit collection are just as strong. From the matter-of-fact magic realism of Pudlo Pudlat, to the humour of Nancy Pukingrnak Aupaluktuq, to the pared-down purity of Andy Miki, the northern works show how dynamic, diverse and contemporary Inuit art is. Several Winnipeg artists cite the influence of Luke Anguhadluq, for example, who was born in 1895 and lived most of his life on the land, but whose raw, minimalist work feels absolutely modern.
Meanwhile, in another cultural exchange, RagnarKjartansson gets in touch with his inner frontiersman amid the spectacular mountainscapes of Banff, Alberta. Kjartansson is big in his native Iceland and becoming increasingly well-known worldwide. A recent Vanity Fair profile suggests that his popularity comes from the way he has brought pleasure back into performance art.
It wouldn’t be a bad way to spend a long winter’s night.- Alison Gillmor
That’s certainly true in this easygoing, incredibly likeable work, which features a five-track audio loop and a five-channel video projected onto five big screens. Kjartansson and collaborator Davíð Þór Jónsson play a rambling alt-country song, which builds and recedes in waves over 30 minutes. The two men play different instruments on different screens, so basically they’re jamming with themselves.
It’s a simple set-up, but it becomes increasingly irresistible as it unfolds. I started watching everything very carefully, but by the end I was lying on my back and just going with it.
Looking Up and The End—Rocky Mountains both have a free public opening on Friday, January 17th , and it wouldn’t be a bad way to spend a long winter’s night.