Curiosity. Humour. Absurdity.
An epic art exhibition is taking over Calgary: Comprised of more than 100 artworks by over 60 artists and collectives from across the country, Oh, Canada: Contemporary Art from North North America, is vast in scope and size – so big that no one gallery space in Calgary is large enough to host the entire exhibition. The exhibition, organized by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), is the largest survey of contemporary Canadian art ever produced outside Canada! In order to bring this ambitious survey of contemporary Canadian art to Calgary, four local art institutions have partnered to co-represent it (Esker Foundation, Glenbow, Illingworth Kerr Gallery and Nickle Galleries).
Oh, Canada is huge in both scale and scope: 61 Artists. 4 Galleries. 1 Exhibition.
“Over 800 artists from every province and territory were initially considered for ‘Oh Canada’. Following 400 studio visits, 62 artists and collectives were selected, focusing mostly on those less known outside Canada”, says Denise Markonish, the Curator of ‘Oh Canada’. “These artists hail from as fas west as the Yukon, as north as Nunavut and as east as Newfoundland and Labrador; they cross multiple generations, and wok in all media, from painting to performance.”
The overall selection is fabulous! I particularly enjoyed Chris Millar’s work, as the natural born storyteller draws us into his ‘own private universe of wondrous tiny details’, holding our attention while unfolding his outrageous tales and phantasies. Millar’s paintings are dense mixtures of images and phrases, whereas his sculptures are sprinkled with visual clues for the viewer.
Does Oh, Canada define a country as large and intricately layered as Canada? “Not really”, says Markonish, “though it provides insight – through more than 100 artworks – into some of the country’s most noteworthy art practices and ideas, including a deep and continuing interest in the land, craft and identiy politics”.
As for me, a new Canadian since December last year, Oh, Canada is but one snapshot among many possibilities, intended to encourage dialogue, debate and a deeper exploration into the breadth and excellence of Canadian art today.
ABOUT the museum:
Glenbow is Western Canada’s largest museum, with over one million objects in the collection including works of art, cultural artifacts from around the world, and photographs and documents relating to the history of Western Canada. The exhibitions, programs and events are designed to create memorable experiences for all Calgarians.
About Chris Millar
Born in Claresholm, Alberta, Chris Millar grew up in Sherwood Park. He completed a fine arts diploma at Grant MacEwan Community College in 1998, and a bachelor of fine arts in painting at the Alberta College of Art+ Design in 2000.