New exhibit paints fuller picture of National Gallery's contemporary trove
'There is no Canadian contemporary art without Indigenous contemporary art'
A major new exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada is painting a fuller and more diverse picture of the recent history of creativity in Canada, and offering art lovers a taste of things to come.
Canadian and Indigenous Art: 1968 to Present is the first step in a major re-think of how the gallery presents its collection.
"This exhibition is really to get people to understand the depth, richness and diversity of art-making in Canada," said Marc Mayer, the gallery's director.
The more than 150 sculptures, paintings, drawings and video pieces that make up the exhibition include more works by women, Indigenous and Inuit artists than were previously shown in the rooms devoted to Canadian contemporary art.
The space has been revamped by a group of curators who pored through the gallery's permanent collection in search of both new voices and forgotten pieces.
"We're a powerhouse of creativity in this country," said Mayer.
The new exhibition is the first course of what will be a major reveal in June, when the Gallery opens Canadian and Indigenous Art: From Time Immemorial to 1967, an extensive retrospective of Canadian art that will fully integrate the early art and ongoing creativity of Indigenous artists into the story of Canadian art history.
"There is no Canadian contemporary art without Indigenous contemporary art," said Mayer.
"I think that visitors to the gallery this summer will realize that there is no one single definition of Canadian art," said Greg Hill, curator of Indigenous art.
"Canada draws on an imported history, European in origins, made by people from around the world, but also combined with Indigenous art history. It's unique."