Exhibition of Work by Aboriginal Artist Carl Beam Opens at the WAG

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is opening an exhibition of the work of Carl Beam, considered one of Canada’s leading contemporary Aboriginal artists. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada, Carl Beam will have a free public opening at 7pm, Wednesday, June 29. It continues until September 11.

Carl Beam (1943-2005) challenged the art world, questioning why contemporary Aboriginal art was marginalized to ethnographic presentations and not respected on an equal footing with other forms of contemporary Canadian Art. He worked with photography and collage in an aesthetic style that was more akin to the expressive layering of American Pop artist Robert Rauschenberg than the more traditional forms of Anishinabek “Woodland School” painters such as Norval Morriseau.

“Carl Beam drew upon his Anishinabek traditions through the recognition of the important role of dreams, the place of spirit helpers, and the lessons of his Aboriginal ancestry,” says Mary Reid, WAG Curator of Contemporary Art and Photography. “He masterfully combined his own diverse iconography of symbols drawn from a wide range of sources such as popular culture to scientific and historical imagery. His work bridges the philosophies and traditions of both Western and Anishinabek worlds.”

Carl Beam consists of 49 of Beam’s most remarkable works featuring his powerful, large-scale paintings, sensitive ceramics, and highly personal constructions. It includes The North American Iceberg, purchased by the National Gallery of Canada as the gallery’s first acquisition of an artwork created by a contemporary First Nations artist. It has become recognized as a coming of age for contemporary Indigenous art in Canada.

Carl Beam has been curated by Greg A. Hill, Audain Curator of Indigenous Art, National Gallery of Canada. A fully-illustrated catalogue is available in the Gallery Shop. It is sponsored by Manitoba Hydro, the Winnipeg Free Press, and Pattison Outdoor Advertising.

Related Programs
Exhibition curator Greg Hill will be speaking twice:

  • Wednesday, July 13, 12:10pm at a special summer edition of Art for Lunch and Thursday, July 14, 7:30pm
  •  Thursday, September 8, 7:30pm • Winnipeg premiere of the documentary film Aakideh: The Art and Legacy of Carl Beam
  • Weekend Drop-In Tours will be running on selected weekends, check wag.ca.



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