Presence: Portraits from the Permanent Collection

  • Nobuo Kubota, Fermentacio, ed. 21/30, from the Atonement series, 1989, screenprint on paper
  • Daphne Odjig, Visiting Grandma, ed. 54/95, 1977, silkscreen on paper
  • Rita Briansky, Heritage, ed. 9/75, n.d., etching on paper
Previous Images
  • Nobuo Kubota, Fermentacio, ed. 21/30, from the Atonement series, 1989, screenprint on paper
  • Daphne Odjig, Visiting Grandma, ed. 54/95, 1977, silkscreen on paper
  • Rita Briansky, Heritage, ed. 9/75, n.d., etching on paper
Next Images

“If my work as an artist has somehow helped to open doors between our people and the non-native community, then I am glad. I am even more deeply pleased if it has helped to encourage the young people that have followed our generation, to express their pride in our heritage more openly, more joyfully than I would have ever dared to think possible.” (1)
— Daphne Odjig

Portraits have been produced under a number of different structures through history. From commissioned portraits that display class or position to anthropological photography that shape ideas about race; from selfies to travel photography, these images reinforce or resist our understandings of ourselves
and others.

The visual depiction of the body is a tool of power. Whether in standard portrait, abstract, or figurative styles, who is portrayed, how, and by whom carries meaning. Considerations of intention, audience, agency, and ownership are also integral to understanding the impact of such artworks. In Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, 1975, Laura Mulvey wrote “In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female.” (2) Colonialism is just as insidious. What does it mean that Norval Morrisseau was not included in the collection of the National Art Gallery (NAC) until 2000, and that they didn’t begin purchasing his work until a few years prior to his death? What does it mean that the NAC was purchasing Michael Snow’s Walking Woman as early as 1966?

The works in this exhibition have been gathered from the AGP’s Permanent Collection with curiosity, reverence, humour, and awe.

Featuring works by Carl Beam, John B. Boyle, Rita Briansky, Sheila Butler, Michael Caines, K. M. Graham, David Hockney, Ivan Eyre, Stephen Livick, Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, Nobuo Kubota, Oskar Schlienger, John Scollard, Michael Snow

Notes:
1. Bob Boyer, Daphne Odjig and Carol Podedwarny, Odjig: The Art of Daphne Odjig, 1966-2000, 2002, (Toronto: Key
Porter Books), p. 78
2. Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema,” first published in Screen, vol. 16, (Autumn 1975), p. 6-18