Paul Butler Appointed WAG’s New Curator of Contemporary Art

 The Winnipeg Art Gallery has announced the appointment of artist and curator Paul Butler as Curator of Contemporary Art effective May 1, 2013.

Paul Butler will be responsible for expanding the WAG’s collection of regional, national, and international contemporary art, which encompasses painting, sculpture, video, installations, photography, and multi-media production. The WAG has a vibrant contemporary art program, which was recently in the national spotlight with its Centennial exhibition Winnipeg Now, a major show featuring newly commissioned work by 13 Winnipeg artists – including Paul Butler. The exhibition roster will be augmented soon with the launch of the NGC@WAG program, an exhibition partnership with the National Gallery of Canada that allows the WAG to access the NGC’s international and Canadian collections.  The program will be officially launched on February 15 with the presentation of the internationally award-winning Janet Cardiff: Forty-Part Motet, followed this fall by The Clock, the tour-de-force 24-hour video installation by Christian Marclay, which took the Gold Lion award at the 2011 Venice Biennale exhibition.

“I am delighted to bring Paul onto the WAG team,” says Executive Director Dr. Stephen Borys. “As a practicing artist with diverse curatorial and exhibition experience, he offers a fresh perspective on the contemporary art collection and programming at the WAG, which is one of our priorities going forward.  And the fact that he has an excellent network of colleagues and supporters on the local and national arts scene is a big plus.  Looking ahead to the second century of our historic mandate as Canada’s oldest civic art gallery, I think Paul is someone who can help move the WAG and Winnipeg forward in the field of contemporary art – including our contemporary Inuit collection, the largest of its kind in the world.”

Born and raised in Winnipeg, and currently living in Montreal, Paul Butler is a multi-disciplinary artist whose focus in on community, collaboration, and artist-run activity. His work was featured in Winnipeg Now, the WAG’s first Centennial exhibition last fall. He was also one of 73 artists who appeared in the My Winnipeg exhibition at La Maison Rouge in Paris in 2011.  Other projects include The Collage Party, an international touring studio open to the public that was seen in Reykjavik, Berlin, Oslo, Dundee, and London, as well as galleries in Canada and the US. He was director of The Other Gallery, a nomadic commercial gallery and the founder of the, a website that facilitates artist trading.

“It is my belief that artists should play an integral role in the direction and vision of museums,” says Butler. “I envision the WAG playing the role of a hub, not only for the community but for the greater art world. I am confident we can make contemporary art more accessible to a broader audience. I want Winnipeggers to feel welcome at the WAG, to feel that it is their gallery in which they can gather and experience art.”

Butler has also been active as a curator with The Greg Curnoe Bicycle Project at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2011. He initiated the experimental school Reverse Pedagogy that began at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2008, and has since traveled to several locations, including Venice and Ireland. He has curated exhibitions at Winnipeg’s Plug In ICA as well as at galleries in San Francisco, New York, and Dundee, Scotland. He was the first Artist-in-Resident at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2012. Butler’s work has been shown in galleries across Canada, in Los Angeles, and Berlin, and he has contributed writings to the book Decentre: Concerning Artist-run Culture, and Border Crossings and Canadian Art magazines. He is currently completing his MFA at Concordia University, Montreal.

“As both artist and curator with an accessible approach to contemporary art curating and discourse, Paul adds a very valuable perspective to our curatorial team,” says Chief Curator Helen Delacretaz. “I am sure we will see a dynamic programming shift as relates to display, content, interpretation, and events. Paul is able to fundamentally understand the positions of both maker and viewer, empathizing with both the position of creator and the interpreter. His appointment marks a new direction for us at the WAG, and the curatorial team is excited about this development.”

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is celebrating its Centennial year with an unparalleled series of exhibitions, programs, and events promoting the power of art in life. As Manitoba's leading art museum, the WAG is home to over 26,000 works of art spanning ten centuries, including the world's preeminent collection of contemporary Inuit art.

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Debra Fehr
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Heather Mousseau
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