Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Press Release

Art Gallery of Ontario
hosts contemporary art from Toronto and around the world in 2016

Logo designed by Bruce Mau

AGO presents exhibitions by internationally renowned artists Hurvin Anderson, Theaster Gates, Francis Alÿs; Landmark Toronto exhibition considers how artists and artforms shaped the city

TORONTO — This winter, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) celebrates the global nature of contemporary art with a series of cutting edge exhibitions from around the world and outside its front door. Featuring renowned artists from Toronto, the U.S. and Europe, the ambitious 2016 contemporary art program at the AGO will stimulate conversation about cross-cultural encounters, make connections across artistic mediums, and provide a portal into current artistic thinking. Beginning in May, visitors to the AGO’s Vivian & David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art will have the opportunity to explore the displaced landscapes of British painter Hurvin Anderson, reimagine the place of house music in the museum with Chicago artist Theaster Gates, reconsider Toronto’s recent past through the lens of its artistic community, and witness the intersection of poetry and politics in the paintings and films of Francis Alÿs.

“Toronto’s storied diversity makes it an incredibly relevant intersection for global contemporary art,” says Stephanie Smith, the AGO’s Chief Curator. “This series of exhibitions implicates us further in international conversations about place, identity and culture, and reaffirms the AGO’s role as a leader in contemporary art in Canada. I commend Kitty Scott, the Carol and Morton Rapp Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, and Andrew Hunter, the Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art, for developing these dynamic and insightful projects.”

Photo courtesy of AGO (Click to enlarge)

The AGO's 2016 contemporary art program will feature four exhibitions:

Hurvin Anderson: Backdrop
May 19 – Aug. 21, 2016
Best known for his paintings of lush Caribbean landscapes and urban barbershops, British artist Hurvin Anderson portrays charged social histories and shifting notions of cultural identity with poignancy and great beauty. The child of Jamaican parents who settled in Birmingham, Anderson creates large-scale landscapes and interiors that are brightly hued meditations on place, memory and inclusion. Curated by Jeffrey Uslip and organized by the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Hurvin Anderson: Backdrop offers a comprehensive survey of the artist’s work to date, including work in drawing, photography and sculpture. The installation at the AGO will be coordinated by Kitty Scott, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, together with Jon Davies, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, and will be presented on the fourth floor of the AGO’s Contemporary Tower.

Theaster Gates: How to Build a House Museum
July 21 – Oct. 30, 2016
Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, whose projects range from small-scale sculptures to ambitious urban interventions, arrives in Toronto this July with an exhibition investigating the transformative powers of art. As the force behind the much-acclaimed Stony Island Arts Bank, Gates seeks to respond creatively to the challenges of space, whether working in museums or in communities. This provocative exhibition explores notions of blackness, freedom, and the history of house music. It will include new works made by the artist, as well as objects drawn from the Exhibit of American Negros at the 1900 Paris Exposition, the Ed Williams collection of negrobilia and Frankie Knuckles’ vinyl collections. Curated by Kitty Scott, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, this project marks Gates’ largest and most extensive museum presentation to date, and will take over the entire fifth floor of the AGO’s Contemporary Tower.

The Toronto Project: Tributes and Tributaries
Sept. 28, 2016 – April 2, 2017
This fall, the AGO looks at a remarkable transitional period in Toronto’s recent history. Highlighting artists and artworks from the late 1960s through to the end of the 1980s, a time marked by the emergence of new artistic practices and institutions, this major exhibition delves into the AGO’s collection to reflect on Toronto as a cultural space, its cultural diversity, its experimentation and possibility. Co-curated by Wanda Nanibush and Andrew Hunter, the AGO's Curator of Canadian Art, The Toronto Project is a landmark exhibition that reveals the foundations of contemporary Toronto through the critical perspectives of its artists, artworks and institutions. The Toronto Project will be installed on the fourth floor of the Contemporary Tower and will be complemented by a performance series in Signy Eaton Gallery.

Francis Alÿs: A Story of Negotiation
Dec. 1, 2016 – April 9, 2017
Organized by the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City and making its only Canadian stop in Toronto, A Story of Negotiation presents three projects by acclaimed Belgian contemporary artist Francis Alÿs. Curated by Cuauhtémoc Medina with Kitty Scott, the AGO’s Curator Modern and Contemporary Art, and coordinated by Bellatrix Hubert, Director of the David Zwirner Gallery, New York, this exhibition explores Alÿs' political engagement through his paintings and three recent film projects: Tornado (2000 - 2010), Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River (2008) and Reel-Unreel (2011). Though radically different in subject, each film situates the artist at the centre of a conflict—be it a storm, the civil war in Afghanistan or the strait of Gibraltar—that must be navigated. Installed on the fifth floor of the AGO’s Contemporary Tower, each film will be shown with a related collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures.

More information about each exhibition will be available in the coming months.

Hurvin Anderson, Sun Shade, 2013


With a collection of more than 90,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002, Ken Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit ago.net to learn more.

Oct. 31, 2015 – Jan. 31, 2016: J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.

Artwork by Francis Alÿs (Photo courtesy of Vebidoo)

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