TORONTO –Art Toronto 2018 launched last Thursday with the Opening Night Preview Gala to benefit the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). The AGO acquired new work by two mid-career artists, adding to its Collection for the first time work by Ontario’s Ken Nicol and Ligwilda’xw Kwakwaka’wakw artist Sonny Assu. The Ken Nicol drawing was purchased with funds raised at the Art Toronto 2018 Opening Night with matching funds from the Peggy Lownsbrough Fund, and the Sonny Assu artwork was purchased with assistance from the James Lahey and Pym Buitenhuis Fund.
This is the thirteenth consecutive year that the AGO has purchased artwork at the opening night preview. Over $500,000CAD was raised to support these acquisitions as well as the AGO’s ongoing programs.
The AGO’s chief curator, Julian Cox, led the Gallery’s selection committee, which included Kitty Scott, Carol and Morton Rapp Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art; Georgiana Uhlyarik, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art; Sophie Hackett, Curator of Photography; Wanda Nanibush, Curator of Indigenous Art; Adelina Vlas, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art; Kenneth Brummel, Assistant Curator of Modern Art; and Julie Crooks, Assistant Curator of Photography.
Toronto-based artist Ken Nicol’s work reflects an obsession with observation and collection. In his compulsive documentation of time, Nicol captures artists ongoing struggles to depict the invisible. A graduate from OCADU, Nicol’s first exhibition was at the AGO back in 1996. field II, dating from June 27, 2017 – Sept. 7, 2017 is the second in a pair of works, similarly timed and composed, but made fifteen years apart. This is the first work by Nicol to enter the AGO Collection.
“field II is a magnificent, large scale drawing made over the course of 72 days in 2017. Its horizontal field of innumerably ranked tally marks delineates the time and makes visible the effort entailed in its production,” says Kitty Scott, the Carol and Morton Rapp Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the AGO. “In field II, we sense the tension between the rigor of Nicol’s conceptual project and the intimacy and idiosyncrasies of his delicate handmade marks. It is an outstanding addition to the AGO’s first-rate collection of contemporary Canadian works on paper.”
A part of the artist’s ongoing series Interventions on the Imaginary, Sonny Assu’s vivid Re-Invaders:Digital Intervention on an Emily Carr Painting (Indian Church, 1929) (2014), overlays an iconic Emily Carr painting with neon pink 3D Indigenous design elements. Now living in Liǥwildaʼx̱w Territory of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nations, Assu was unaware of his Indigenous roots until he was eight years old. Trained at Emily Carr University, he now engages with Western and Kwakwaka’wakw principles of art making as a means of exploring his family history and his identity. This is the first work by the artist to join the AGO’s Collection.
“Sonny Assu’s series, Interventions on the Imaginary, is central to his sustained project to assert Indigenous presence in contemporary art-making,” says Georgiana Uhlyarik, the AGO’s Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art. “With humour and acuity, his composite images contest the dominance of the traditional Canadian art narrative. More importantly, they reclaim the sites depicted as Indigenous spaces.”
About Sonny Assu
Born in Richmond B.C., Assu now lives and works in Liǥwildaʼx̱w Territory on Vancouver Island. An interdisciplinary artist, he graduated from Emily Carr University in 2002 and has an MFA from Concordia University. His work has been exhibited internationally, including recent solo exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, and his work is included in the permanent collections of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Seattle Art Gallery and the Audain Museum in Whistler.
About Ken Nicol
Ken Nicol is a Toronto-based interdisciplinary artist who studied at OCADU and at Sheridan College, Toronto. His work has been exhibited in Miami, Chicago, New York, Winnipeg, and Toronto. His work is featured in various public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, and The Bank of Montreal, and TD Bank.
ABOUT THE AGO
Located in Toronto, Canada’s largest city of 5.9 million, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of the largest art museums in North America. The AGO’s collection of close to 95,000 works ranges from cutting-edge contemporary art such as Untilled by Pierre Huyghe to European masterpieces such as Peter Paul Rubens’s The Massacre of The Innocents; from the vast collection by the Group of Seven to works by established and emerging Indigenous and Canadian artists; with a photography collection that tracks the impact of the medium with deep holdings of works by artists such as Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus; and with focused collections in Gothic boxwood miniatures and Western and Central African art. Drawing on this collection—as well as collaborations with museums around the world—the AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, taking special care to showcase diverse and underrepresented artists. A major expansion designed by Frank Gehry in 2008 with lead support from the family of Ken Thomson makes the AGO a highly-photographed architectural landmark. Visit ago.ca and follow @AGOToronto to learn more.
Sept. 2018 – Jan 6, 2019: Anthropocene
Nov. 29, 2018 – March 24, 2019: Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires
Feb. 16, 2019 – May 5, 2019: Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissarro and More
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.