Whatever 2022 brings, there will be great art – and, fingers crossed, it will be safely accessible in galleries, museums and public spaces across the country.
Perhaps travellers will have to think twice about attending the Venice Biennale, where Vancouver artist Stan Douglas will unveil new work in the Canada Pavilion in April, but here are five enticing coming exhibitions closer to home.
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Whether dressing as poodles or turning AIDS medications into pop-art icons, the trio of artists operating as General Idea proved themselves continually inventive social critics. Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson met on the 1960s counterculture scene and created a fictionalized group personality that could take on anything, from the celebrity marketing machine to the pharmaceutical industry. With more than 200 works, the National Gallery is mounting the first complete retrospective of their remarkable career, which ended when Partz and Zontal died from AIDS in 1994.
From June 3 to Nov. 20
Canada and Impressionism: New Horizons
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
The National Gallery is suffering an embarrassment of riches in 2022 because its large look at the Canadian Impressionists is finally back in Ottawa after a European tour prolonged by the pandemic. The show charts Canadian contributions to an international artistic movement, featuring both expat artists such as Helen McNicoll and James Wilson Morrice and those who made careers in Canada, such as Maurice Cullen and Lawren Harris. And, complicating triumphalist narratives about the Group of Seven, it demonstrates how these varied painters advanced modernism at home.
From Jan. 21 to June 12
L’heure mauve (Mauve Twilight) by Nicolas Party
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The Swiss-born international artist Nicolas Party is recognized for colourful figurative art that is both highly accessible and strangely discomforting. He paints landscapes, still lifes and portraits, although the biomorphic and anthropomorphic are sometimes indistinguishable in a surreal style where people turn into mushrooms or fruits gather like sheltering animals. The artist will also paint murals for this large show, promising to transform the museum’s galleries into an extension of his fantastical vision.
From Feb. 12 to Oct. 16
Kent Monkman: Being Legendary
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
The Cree trickster Kent Monkman is curating an exhibition that will feature objects from the ROM collection and work of his own making that responds to them. After his 2019 success in creating murals for the Metropolitan Museum in New York that were inspired by works in that collection, expect another cheeky confrontation with colonialism as Monkman continues his provocative rethink of history painting.
From Oct. 8 to March 19, 2023
George Clutesi: ḥašaḥʔap / ʷ ʔaapḥii ʷ / ʷ ʕc̓ik / ʷ ḥaaʔaksuqƛ ʷ / ʷ ʔiiḥmisʔap ʷ
The Bateman Gallery, Victoria
George Clutesi was a seminal Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) artist and cultural activist from the Tseshaht First Nation who showed at Expo 67 and was among the first Indigenous artists to mount a solo show at the Vancouver Art Gallery. This overdue retrospective, featuring 20 artworks and pieces by contemporary Nuu-chah-nulth artists, is being mounted with help from Nuu-chah-nulth advisers and the Clutesi family. It also includes documentary material on Clutesi’s experiences at the Alberni residential school and discusses his work reviving Tseshaht song and dance. The show’s title is translated as “keep generous talented strong-willed treasure.”
From June 9 to October 22; touring to the Alberni Valley Museum in late spring 2023