Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Group of Seven in Algoma

I recently visited the Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA) to take in their fall exhibitions.  Though I have worked with the AGA a number of times on collaborative exhibitions I haven't really explored the gallery as a visitor before.

The main exhibition at the AGA right now is the Group of Seven in Algoma and a Mysterious Death.  The show is part of the Algoma Fall Festival and focuses on the Group of Seven's connection to Northern Ontario and the impact that the artists continue to have in the artistic world.

 The Group of Seven portion of the exhibit features 38 pieces of artwork done by different members of the Group and was guest curated by Tom Smart, from the Art Gallery of Sudbury.  The exhibit contains pieces from the AGA's collection but also brings together works from other private and public collections around Ontario. 

The exhibition features a variety of works, styles, and artists.  It was interesting to be able to compare the different styles within the group and recognize numerous locations in the paintings.  The exhibition featured a number of works by A.Y. Jackson, Frank Johnston, and Franklin Carmichael that I hadn't seen before. 

The only disappointment of the exhibit was the lack of any work from Lawren Harris, who tends to be my favourite artist from the Group of Seven. But that's more of a personal preference and the exhibit is excellent regardless.

Paired with the works of the Group of Seven is George Walker's The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson which contains over 100 prints made from wood engravings.  Walker's work initially appeared in 'wordless novel' format and highlight the impact of Thomson's impact on Canadian culture while telling the story of Thomson's life and death.  Digital reproductions of the 109 engravings can be seen here.

In addition to the over 100 prints the exhibit features a few of Walker's tools, original plates, and a reproduction skull of Thomson.  The prints effectively tell a life story without words and the intricacy of the woodcuts which created the prints was inspiring.  The Walker exhibit was an interesting contrast to the Group of Seven exhibit and worked well in the same space.

Group of Seven in Algoma and a Mysterious Death is open until October 26th at the Art Gallery of Algoma.  Since the event is part of the Algoma Fall festival the admission price is slightly higher ($9) than the regular ($5) gallery admission,  but it is well worth a visit.

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