That time of year is upon us: there's new school clothes for the growing, and new art seeds sowing. It's a star-studded season across Canada with a fleet of sleek shows featuring major group exhibitions, award-winning curators, Venice-bound and Venice-returned artists, international banner talent, emerging players, new institutions just getting the lights on, and long-standing galleries saying 'so-long'. There's even a golden jubilee! Read-on for the finest of the fall line-up.
Jack Bush & Ohotaq Mikkigak: "Blue Cloud" at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Toronto
September 5 – October 28, 2012
"Blue Cloud" is the third instalment in an award-winning series curated by Nancy Campbell, where A-listers (previously, Shary Boyle and Ed Pien) from the ‘contemporary art world’ are paired with Cape Dorset Inuit artists to fantastic effect. At once bypassing, disproving, and transcending the notion that Inuit art is somehow removed from contemporary art, Campbell designs dramatic comparisons and couplings, and explores deep matter in formal terms. It's an all-important opportunity to see dynamic but disparate talents close categorical distance, and produce magic as contemporaries.
"Archival Dialogues: Reading the Black Star Collection" at the Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto
September 29 – December 16, 2012
Toronto's newest public gallery opens with a collection of freshly commissioned works from Canadian luminaries Stephen Andrews, Christina Battle, Marie-Hélène Cousineau, Stan Douglas, Vera Frenkel, Vid Ingelevics, and David Rokeby. At the root of the exhibition is the Black Star Collection, Ryerson University's world-class archive of black-and-white photojournalism. With a roster of artists known for engaging historical photography and the archive, this signals a strong program to come.
"My Winnipeg" at Plug-In ICA, Winnipeg
September 7 – October 7, 2012 (and more continuing to March 17, 2013)
A massive four-exhibition project elapsing over the next six months and surveying the work of more than 100 artists "who have worked, lived, or had an association with the city of Winnipeg." The exhibition seems to be less interested in encapsulating the city than asserting its importance, and rightfully so: despite a large artist contingent, Winnipeg is too-often overlooked by the traditional centers of art in Canada. The first episode, “There's No Place Like Home,” runs until October 7th, and features Daniel Barrow, Marcel Dzama, Ivan Eyre, Neil Farber, Wanda Koop, Kent Monkman, Hope Peterson, the Royal Art Lodge, and Esther Warkov, to name a few.
Christian Marclay: "The Clock" at the Power Plant, Toronto
September 14 – November 25, 2012
Winner of the Golden Lion at last year's Venice Biennale, Christian Marclay's 24-hour real-time montage, “The Clock,” is fast surpassing artworld fervour to become a bona-fide real-world legend. Both a technical marvel and a scavenger hunt, the film is highly accessible and deeply entrancing. Come early, as only 50 viewers will be admitted at any time. Or come really late: there will be several 24-hour screenings, where audience members can test themselves to see the whole thing.
September 20, 2012 – January 6, 2013
Another crowd-pleaser, this will be the first large-scale survey of hyperrealist sculptor Penny's work to hit North America. Interestingly, the South African-born, Toronto-based artist is a former special effects expert whose film credits include Oliver Stone’s film “JFK.” Penny’s cinema credits are readily apparent in visuals that astound and baffle, exploiting optical anomalies that play with your brain and fool your senses. The AGO promises more than 30 works, so there will be lots to feast your eyes on. This one is a winner for the whole family.
November 10 – December 22, 2012
Jason McLean, a bright-light new-generation regionalist (touted as “the new Greg Curnoe,” though it’s a term he resists) boasts a multidisciplinary and collaborative practice which is wholly unique. His graphic 'mappings' cover broad territories of both the mind, popular culture, remote memory, and the nowhere landscape that populates home itself. McLean voraciously overwrites both object and image in cartoon, Zine-art style. Expect large, exuberant drawings full of panache and wit, and a drifting sense of melancholy.
Denyse Thomasos at Olga Korpor Gallery, Toronto
November 1 – November 28, 2012
When painter Denyse Thomasos died this summer, all too soon, her canvases -- incorporating gestural and digital abstraction in narratives inculcating history’s deep injustices to the African ancestry -- seemed only to strengthen in their subjects’ resolve. At the time of her death, Thomasos was teaching at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and was due for a new exhibition of paintings at Olga Korpor, making this her most recent, and final show.
Jason de Haan: “Nowhere Bodily is Everywhere Ghostly” at South Alberta Art Gallery, Calgary
September 29 – November 25, 2012
Never say a dreamer doesn’t get his due. The Calgary-based Jason de Haan is having a good year. Recently shortlisted for the 2012 Sobey Art Award, and with a growing reputation across Canada and within Mexico, too, Haan seems drawn to playing-out a particular poetic legerdemain. From moonlit stains to salted beards and haunted mirrors, Haan is producing allegories you’ll swear you’ve once been told. “Note that it’s not the gleaming newness of the modern that de Haan is after, but rather the amorphous, troubled newness of the still-unformed—a rich and meaningful territory for a young artist in first years of a new century made almost instantly alert to the burdens of history,” writes Canadian Art’s Richard Rhodes. We couldn’t have dreamed for a lovelier harbinger.
September 6 – October 13, 2012
Jessica Eaton's star has been steadily rising over the past two years, as her “Cubes for Albers and LeWitt” series of abstract formalist photographs has gathered international acclaim and awards. The photographer’s technical skill is formidable, her work produced through analogue media, meticulous experimentation, and an artist’s old-school desire to see herself surprised. “Squeezed Coherent States” includes a triptych first exhibited at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal and several new works that see Eaton experimenting with new forms. Regrettably termed work “a guy would make” by one errant – if doting – critic, the series certainly demonstrates a calculating and unrelenting mind at work. (We’ll leave the gender assignations for minds working a slower pace.)
"Expeditions" at the Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa
September 21, 2012 – January 13, 2013
Featuring the work of six young artists who have been making waves across the country, “Expeditions” is the investigation of various Canadian locales, with the participating artists drawing connections to their chosen landscapes. Curator Ola Wlusek distinguishes the exhibition as less a rumination on nationality than a reconsideration of a classic Canadian theme. With recent Sobey Award winners Daniel Young & Christian Giroux, as well as Katie Bethune-Leamen, Penny McCann, Cecilia Nygren, and Peter Michael Wilson, it promises to shed new light on an old tradition.
"WTG_45 Years (happenstance and continuance)" at Wynick/Tuck Gallery, Toronto
September 22 – October 13, 2012
After 45 years and more than 500 exhibitions, Lynne Wynick and David Tuck are closing the doors of their scene-setting commercial gallery, one of the first of its kind in Toronto. Wynick/Tuck’s stable of highly important Canadian artists, including Monica Tap, Janice Gurney, Dyan Marie, Greg Curnoe, William Kurelek, and Gerald Ferguson, will present a final blockbuster show, and no doubt contain a number of extraordinary works. The gallery is airing out its attics at www.wynicktuckgallery.ca/blog/, as well, and promises to maintain a small dealership in the alcoves of its historic home, the 401 Richmond building.
Martin Beck: “the particular way in which a thing exists” at Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery, Montreal
November 16, 2012 – January 26, 2013
The provocative conceptual artist, Martin Beck, is all about the production of social organization (particularly post-war utopias) and probing disquieting political truths. His multidisciplinary work – taking the form of installation, sculpture, video, and photography – has been exhibited internationally and criticized in the places that count. This late-fall exhibition will be the first to re-examine and contextualize Beck's practice of the last ten years, while also introducing a newly commissioned video installation.
September 14 – November 11, 2012
This is the first North American appearance of Berlin-based Nairy Baghramian's surrealist/minimalist sculpture and installation. Her works have an air of 1930s/40s interior design, and the artist cites designers like Janette Laverrière and Jean Michel Frank as an influence – people whose work offered a counternarrative to the 20th century Big Boys of architecture. Baghramian then contemporizes and systematizes. Exceeding mere formalism, her work retroactively opens up charged spaces in the high modernist canon, and demands a renegotiation.
Shary Boyle: “Stranger” at Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, Toronto
September 22 – November 3, 2012
Venice Biennale-bound Boyle gives us an exhibition of new works on paper produced at residencies in Cape Dorset and Saskatchewan. The prairies’ canopied skies and dull-edge horizons consume a new series of watercolors, while Boyle’s time at the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative produced a new set of supernatural characters for the artist to position. A collaboration with Shuvinai Ashoona, with whom Boyle exhibited at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery in 2009, also inflects this exhibition, giving us a taste of what's in store for her Venice show next summer.
September 19 – October 20, 2012
Canada's 2009 Venice entry, Mark Lewis, produces films which reflect urban alienation and metropolitan drift, while lending equal focus to the aesthetics, history, and innovations of its very cinematic form. Four works will be shown over the course of Faria’s drawn-out exhibition, including the eponymous “Man,” a rumination on how passersby contend with a homeless man and a camera. Faria's gallery -- a massive industrial space in Toronto’s burgeoning but scrappy west-end gallery district -- ought to provide a uniquely resonant space for Lewis's deep and haunting body of work.
October 2 – December 2, 2012
A long-time artist-in-residence at the Darling Foundry, a unique incubator of an exhibition space in Montreal’s former industrially-driven Griffin Town, Olivia Boudreau has arguably been working towards this exhibition since 2009. Her first solo show to date, it will likely feature one of the 2011 Quebec Triennial star inclusions, a video installation featuring the interior of a steam room, where intimacy and sensation, the gaze, and duration, all present with a breathless beauty. Boudreau is a young artist who is beginning to make her mark, and – not unlike Montreal art star Patrick Bernatchez – she is testing the limits of the moving frame with the touch of a Romantic.
November 23, 2012 – January 20, 2013
In a wry reconsideration of this formidable prairie-locked gallery's deep history, artist collective Turner Prize* (Jason Cawood, Blair Fornwald, and John G. Hampton) is remounting exhibitions from each decade of the dynamic Dunlop Gallery's existence — unbelievably numbering 50 years – in a light uniquely its own. Styling the interventions as 'covers', Turner Prize* points to the futility of attempting to recapture the aura of a time and place, as well as the inevitability of historical revisionism, with its expected wit and panache. This is a rare opportunity to witness a public institution be dressed in its own history – and by desirable stylists, at that – and a cause for celebration all on its own.