Exclusive Tours of Two New AGO Exhibitions: Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory & Native Artist Brian Jungen Friendship Centre – Free Admission Now!!

On Thursday, July 18th, 2019, Fashion Ecstasy had the utmost pleasure of attending the private viewing of two new contemporary exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). The new exhibitions are Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory and Brian Jungen Friendship Centre. The opening of these new exhibitions heralded the bold changes made to the AGO admissions model in order to encourage greater access for the public to visit the museum. With its slogan, “Less Equals More,” admission is free for visitors 25 years old and under, and a new annual pass provides unlimited access to the AGO for $35.
Following refreshments in the historic Grange House, the tour began with a quick introduction to AGO’s Carol and Morton Rapp Curator of Contemporary Art, Kitty Scott. Kitty oversaw the installation of both exhibitions. Background information on both artists was provided to the group prior to the tour. Vija Celmins is a respected Latvian-born American visual artist whose incredibly detailed and diverse works spans over forty years from the 1960s to the present. Brian Jungen is an internationally renowned visual artist, and the Brian Jungen Friendship Centre is the first contemporary Indigenous artist‘s major solo exhibition to be featured in the AGO’s Sam and Ayala Zacks Pavilion.

Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory

 

The tour began in the Vija Celmins‘ exhibition, which was the artist’s first North American retrospective in over twenty years. Kitty showed us to a large-scale sculpture of a pencil and explained that the objects in her studio inspired some of Celmins‘ earlier work.

The pencil sculpture,

The pencil sculpture was about six feet long and had some great detail, such as the worn-down eraser and the dents in the pencil. We were then led into a gallery space that contained a series of small-scale pencil drawings. One drawing entitled, Letter (1968), was an envelope that had a trompe l’oeil effect in the envelope’s fold and showcased Celmins‘ exquisite handwriting.

Letter (1968)

  • To Fix the Image in Memory I-XI (1977-82),

    Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory Exibition at AGO

In one of her collections entitled, To Fix the Image in Memory I-XI (1977-82), a glass box contained eleven river stones found from her travels to New Mexico and their bronze-casted pairs that she painted by hand and looked exactly like their actual stones in their design. This exhibition allows the viewer to be still and take the time to admire the delicate intricacies of objects and landscapes.
After visiting the Vija Celmins exhibition, everyone was led to the Sam and Ayala Zacks Pavilion to check out the Brian Jungen Friendship Centre. Friendship Centres are open and multipurpose non-profit support centres for Indigenous people that are located in major cities. This exhibition was inspired by the friendship centre near Jungen‘s studio and includes a broad range of his work, including sculpture, film, and large scale installation. The entire space was transformed into a gymnasium, where the floor was covered in black basketball fabric and neon lines resembling a basketball court.

Brian Jungen Friendship Centre for Indigenous Artists:

Brian Jungen Friendship Centre for Indigenous Artists totem poles made with golf bags
Brian Jungen, left to right,1980, 1970, 1960 (2007). Polyester, metal, painted wood on paper sonotube, 396 x 122 x 91 cm each. Courtesy of the artist. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Purchased with the assistance of The David Yuile and Mary Elizabeth Hodgson Fund, 2007; Promised Gift of Rosamond Ivey; Gift of Michael and Sonja Koerner, 2018, Toronto. © Brian Jungen

Totem poles made out of golf bags were placed throughout the space along with pieces from his Warrior sculpture series, an extensive collection of Indigenous masks made out of ripped and shredded Air Jordans. In the conjoining gallery space was a massive Orca whale skeleton made out of white plastic patio chairs.

  • massive Orca whale skeleton:
Brian Jungen, Cetology, 2002 - AGO
Brian Jungen,
Cetology, 2002,
plastic chairs, 161.54 x 1260.40 x 168.66 cm. Collection of the
Vancouver Art Gallery, Purchased with the financial support of the
Canada Council for the Arts
Acquisition Assistance Program and the Vancouver Art Gallery Acquisition Fund. © Brian Jungen
Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery

This large scale installation was meant to showcase his ability to see new potential in ordinary objects as well as reveal the observation: ‘an endangered animal is made from an indestructible material.”

  • Brian Jungen, Furniture Sculpture, 2006
Brian Jungen, Furniture Sculpture, 2006, installation view at the Art Gallery of Ontario, 2019
Brian Jungen, Furniture Sculpture, 2006, installation view at the Art Gallery of Ontario, 2019

In the Walker Court was Jungen‘s twenty-seven feet high installation, Furniture Sculpture (2006), a teepee made out of skinned and broken down leather sofas, which was displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in 2009.
Vija Celmins‘ exhibition will be on display until August 5th, 2019 while Brian Jungen Friendship Centre runs until August 25th, 2019. Artists & art lovers, See you at The AGO! <3