Central-Eastern Canada: Out of the Bush Garden

Imago Mundi

Contemporary Artists from Central-Eastern Canada

The Canadian national motto itself gives an indication of the physical landscape of the country: A mari usque ad mare, from sea to sea, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. But to begin to understand the spirit of the great federal state, with ten provinces and three territories, a look at its banknotes can be instructive. A number of them feature the figure of Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, who also reigns over these lands (as, indeed, she does over Australia). In fact, the form of government is that of a constitutional monarchy, with a Governor-General who resides in the capital Ottawa, although effective power is exercised by the parliament and the prime minister. However, the currency is not sterling, but the Canadian dollar, by virtue of its proximity to the United States. If we look at a $20 bill such as the one commemorating 63 years of the Reign of Elizabeth in 2015, we read in English "A Historic Reign" and in French "Un Regne Historique", affirming the constitutionally guaranteed bilingualism of the nation. In this country, second in size only to Russia, Imago Mundi has captured, in 216 10x12 cm works, the creativity and expressive vitality of the artists, in a volume dedicated to the central-eastern area of the country: Ontario, Quebec (Francophone), Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Stephen Cruise - #10 Rue (2015)

“This cohabitation between the main cultures (Anglophone, Francophone, and the indigenous traditions) gave Canada - observes Luciano Benetton, the creator of Imago Mundi - its complex three-dimensional quality, delaying the definition of a common national identity among its more than 35 million inhabitants. Consequently, the main unifying element has always been the landscape: forests, blue-green peaks, the icy waters of the Great Lakes, troubled seas and glacial lands. Nature and its powerful ability to impose itself on human history. Today, if we add the influence of American culture and the many traditions brought by migrants from Europe, Asia and Latin
America, Canada is the embodiment of a prosperous multicultural society. In 1982, moreover, the Constitution was revised, strengthening the protection of linguistic pluralism and the rights of the indigenous peoples.”

David Blackwood - “Ice Mast High Came Floating by – Green as Emerald” (S.T.Coleridge) (2015)

Ursula Johnson - On Native Land (2015)

Patrick Coutu - Untitled (2015)

“Painting is usually a two-dimensional art but in the context of Imago Mundi explains the curator Francesca Valente - canvases have often embraced the expressive potential of tactile and three-dimensional effects. Many artists have challenged the flatness of the canvas in different ways. Some achieve this goal by opening up the canvas with one or more slashes or even by burning it (Michael Belmore, Graeme Patterson and Eldon Garnet), some by a playful or subtly devious use of perspective (Will Gorlitz, Ed Pien, Joanne Tod, Napoleon Brousseau, John Reeves, Sylvia Safdie and Kelly Wallace), others by excavating the surface (Andrew Jones, Andrew Owen A01 and Maskull Lasserre) or by building a sculptural object (An Te Liu, Jamelie Hassan, Mani Mazinani, Vanessa Paschakarnis, Jerry Ropson, Tony Calzetta, Francesca Vivenza and Claire Weissman Wilks). Others proceed by painting both sides and/or inserting/ applying objets trouvés (Tony Urquhart, Ron Benner, Noel Harding and Barry Callaghan) with great vitality and immediacy; some works have turned into sculpture and painting at the same time (Mathieu Latulippe e Donigan Cumming); in many cases the small canvas has become a unique micro universe (Kim Adams, Stephen Cruise and Steve Higgins).”

Jorge Guerra - A Face in Two (2015)

Kim Adams - Rock Face Warrior (2015)

Hans Wendt - Paint Sample (2015)

Andrew Jones - Sitting Room (2015)

The curator also touches on other aspects of the collection. “Some of the works – she notes - are figurative, exquisitely classic in technique (Christopher Pratt, Tony Scherman, Philippa Jones, Christine Koch, Reinhard Reitzenstein), while others are abstract, setting the artist free from the task of representation (John Brown, Patrick Coutu and Bruce Cochrane). She continues: “Some artists have rewritten parts of Canadian history through the Imago Mundi canvas (Mario Doucette, Jack Diamond); Art forms that were only imagined a few years ago are now featured, including the 3D printed sculptures by Edward Burtynsky, Moshe Safdie, Nichola Feldman-Kiss, and Brendon McNaughton.” Finally “Michael Snow’s conceptual photograph is an appropriate cover emblem for the whole collection. The multi-coloured background of wild flowers speaks to the multi-cultural richness into which Canada has blossomed, producing fertility and artistic cross-pollination.”

Barry Callaghan - Off the Wall Horseman (2015)

John Eisler - Untitled (2015)

James Carl - Content (Water) (2015)

Nicole Katsuras - Canary Shore (2015)

Art critic Peggy Gale includes in her considerations an analysis of indigenous art, whose representatives “have inscribed their concerns and ongoing historical issues in telling ways. Bonnie Devine reproduces a portion of the Royal Proclamation, 1763, which reserved an enormous area in the North American interior for the exclusive use of Aboriginal peoples and states explicitly that Aboriginal people reserved all lands not ceded by or purchased from them: an edict that remains alive and relevant for ongoing land claims and disputes. Robert Houle uses deer hide for Morning Star Leggings, and Ursula Johnson applies still-barbed porcupine quills On Native Land. Rebecca Belmore’s collage To Leonard honours Leonard Peltier, after nearly forty years still imprisoned for allegedly killing two FBI agents, and repeatedly denied a re-trial despite the acknowledged manipulation of evidence in court. Peltier is a six-time Nobel Prize nominee.”

Ron Benner - North Shore, Lake Erie, Ontario (2015)

Graeme Patterson - Unburrowing (2015)

Annie Dunning - Foolproof Four (revisited) (2015)

David R. Harper - To Hold and Watch (2015)

Marlene Creates - Scattering Ice, Conception Bay, Newfoundland, March 2014 (2015)

Steve Higgins - Utopian Rebuild (2015)

The kaleidoscopic richness of the collection is summed up by the words of Luciano Benetton: “From the complex and erratic mosaic of the canvases, the different cultural souls of this vast country emerge, as do the contamination and amalgamation of different languages, colours and forms. Like a long journey among works and inspirations that seem to say: look at us and in the light of the Great North you will discover something about us and about yourself. Something singular and, at the same time, universal.”

Spring Hurlbut - Don’t Put Words in my Mouth (2015)

Credits: Story

Art Direction, Photography and Production Fabrica Curation
Francesca Valente

Valentina Granzotto

Editorial coordination
Enrico Bossan

Luciano Benetton
Francesca Valente
Peggy Gale

Translation and editing
Emma Cole
Alessandro Ciappa
(Service Scibbolet)
Camilla Mozzato
Sophie Royère
(Service Scibbolet)
Pietro Valdatta

Art direction
Namyoung An

Marco Zanin

Marco Pavan

Michael Snow - A Little Picture

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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