Now Open: Cliff Eyland: Library of Babel – A Retrospective
New exhibition celebrates the life and work of the much-loved local artist, curator, writer, and educator
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty No. 1 Territory, January 25, 2022: The Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG)-Qaumajuq is pleased to announce the opening of Library of Babel, a new retrospective of work from the late Canadian artist Cliff Eyland. Curated by Robert B. Epp, the exhibition began as a collaboration between the two colleagues that explored Eyland’s lifelong obsession with the library. When Eyland passed away in May 2020, Library of Babel transformed from a contemporary show to a memorial celebration of the life and work of a man who always moved towards creation and community.
Born in Nova Scotia in 1954, Eyland became a beloved pillar of the Winnipeg art community through his art practice and as an associate professor for the University of Manitoba’s School of Art. Known nationally as a painter, his most accessible public works are library installations featuring thousands of 3×5” paintings in Halifax, Winnipeg and Edmonton. Winnipeggers will recognize the iconic 3×5” index card paintings, an homage to his Winnipeg home, which grace the walls of the Millennium Library downtown.
Cliff Eyland: Library of Babel – A Retrospective offers a broad overview of Eyland’s work, covering a period of about 40 years and featuring over 1000 works of art as well as videos, photographs, digital prints, and archival documents. In addition to the library elements that he became known for, Cliff Eyland: Library of Babel – A Retrospective also features aspects of his impressive curatorial career and innovative collaborative projects.
Cliff Eyland: Library of Babel – A Retrospective is now open and runs until May 15, 2022.
- Cliff Eyland: Library of Babel – A Retrospective celebrates the life and work of the late Canadian artist, curator, writer, and educator
- Curated by longtime collaborator Robert B. Epp, the exhibition is inspired by ‘The Library of Babel,’ a short story by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges and his notion of the library as the universe
- Winnipeggers will recognize the iconic 3×5” index card paintings, an homage to Winnipeg, which grace the walls of the Millennium Library downtown
- The exhibition covers a broad overview of Eyland’s work over 40 years, featuring over 1000 works, including artwork that will be new to the public
- The exhibition also features two films by Adam Brooks on Eyland: a short film highlighting Eyland’s three library installations, and an hour-long documentary composed of intimate interviews between Brooks and Eyland after Eyland’s double lung transplant in 2016
- The Gallery was forced to postpone a public opening for the exhibition due to the current COVID-19 situation. A community celebration is being planned for Friday, April 29th at 7PM. More details will be announced soon at wag.ca.
- Cliff Eyland: Library of Babel – A Retrospective is now open and runs until May 15, 2022
“Cliff Eyland was a gifted artist and brilliant intellectual. He will be remembered as a truly singular Canadian painter driven by the constant desire to create art that is at once provocative, playful, alien, and beautiful.”
— Robert B. Epp, Guest Curator, Cliff Eyland: Library of Babel – A Retrospective
“Cliff Eyland’s impact as an artist and educator can be seen in museums, libraries and public spaces throughout the country. His unique approach to artmaking disrupts how we typically see and engage with art, and his generous encouragement has inspired many students in their own artistic pursuits. We are grateful to Guest Curator Robert B. Epp for bringing his unique perspective as a close friend and collaborator of Eyland’s, and to Pam Eyland for her guidance and generosity in accessing Cliff’s work. We also want to thank the Canada Council for the Arts for their support to bring this exhibition to audiences.”
— Dr. Stephen Borys, Director & CEO, WAG-Qaumajuq
“I am so glad the WAG is presenting Cliff Eyland’s oeuvre in the very community in which he had such an indelible impact. I knew of Cliff’s work as a curator first and am happy to share that this part of his practice is also represented in this exhibition. It is a true celebration of a prolific and diverse career.”
— Riva Symko, Head of Collections & Exhibitions and Curator of Canadian Art, WAG-Qaumajuq
The WAG thanks the Canada Council for the Arts for supporting this exhibition.
For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Public Relations Officer
Winnipeg Art Gallery
Amy Rebecca Harrison
Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Winnipeg Art Gallery (the WAG) is a cultural advocate using art to connect, inspire, and inform. Playing a dynamic role in the community, we are a place for learning, dialogue, and enjoyment through art. Opened in March 2021, Qaumajuq connects to the WAG on all levels, celebrating the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world. The new WAG-Qaumajuq cultural campus is now one of the largest art museums in Canada. To learn more visit wag.ca.