WAG Exhibition Looks at Our Communication with Animals

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is becoming a menagerie of sorts with a new exhibition, Bestial Encounters, which will have a free public opening at 7pm on Thursday, March 31. It continues until June 12.

The Winnipeg Alphabestiary was a special project conceived by the international arts publication Border Crossings to mark its 25th anniversary. Twenty-six exceptional artists who call Winnipeg home, even though they may no longer live here, were selected to illustrate a letter of the alphabet. The end result is a unique collection of paintings and drawing of animals (real, imagined, and truly inventive) by some of Winnipeg’s leading contemporary artists.

Captive features the work of acclaimed photographer Volker Seding who spent 15 years visiting zoos around the world capturing poignant and disturbing images of exotic animals in captivity. Although these animals cannot speak, Seding captures moments where their eyes and body language offer a complicated tale of longing, pleading, and resignation.

Displayed alongside these interconnected displays are a number of other pieces drawn from the WAG’s permanent collection.

“What separates us from truly understanding animals is the ability to communicate through a shared language,” says Mary Reid, Curator of Contemporary Art and Photography. “This exhibition deals with concepts of communication, language, animals, and collecting.”

“Both The Winnipeg Alphabestiary and Captive are an extraordinary series of works, and the WAG is very fortunate to have been able to acquire both of them for our permanent collection,” says Director Stephen Borys.

Related Programs
Exhibition Tour • Wednesday, May 4 • with Mary Reid, Curator of Contemporary Art and Photography

Approaching its centenary in 2012, the Winnipeg Art Gallery is Canada’s oldest civic art gallery and Manitoba’s leading visual arts institution. With a collection of over 24,000 objects spanning many centuries and cultures – including the world’s largest collection of contemporary Inuit art – the WAG is constantly moving between the historical and the contemporary in an effort to engage a growing public with the power of art in our lives.






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