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10 Shows We’re Looking Forward to in 2014

It’s a new year, with lots of fantastic new art shows to look forward to in Canada. Here are some of the exhibitions we most want to see in the next 12 months, including Peter Doig in Montreal, Douglas Coupland in Vancouver, Amalie Atkins in Regina, and more.

“Peter Doig: No Foreign Lands” at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal
Internationally renowned painter Peter Doig spent his youth in Montreal and in the Eastern Townships, where he acquainted himself with the work of major Canadian painters David Milne, James Wilson Morrice and Ozias Leduc. As Sarah Milroy detailed in our Fall cover story, there are few painters who deal so poetically with the complicated question of roots and the legacies of colonialism. This is the only Canadian stop for Doig’s latest survey, which recently wound up a showing at Scotland’s National Gallery. Runs January 25 to May 4, 2014.

The Canadian Biennial at the National Gallery of Canada
Though many continue to debate whether the National Gallery’s biennial can truly be called as such—given that it highlights recent acquisitions rather than recently made works—it remains an excellent opportunity to survey our nation’s creative landscape. Highlights of the 2012 edition included Michel de Broin’s Majestic and David Altmejd’s The Vessel; perhaps the 2014 outing will see the NGC exhibit Geoffrey Farmer’s Leaves of Grass, much seen in Germany during Documenta 13 but previously unexhibited at home? We can hope. Runs October 17, 2014, to March 8, 2015.

“Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything” at the Vancouver Art Gallery
Long recognized nationally and internationally for his writings, Coupland’s visual art practice has also gained prominence in recent years with significant public art commissions and successful gallery shows. Now, the Vancouver Art Gallery is producing the first-ever survey of his work. It’s likely to be a challenge for its curators, what with Coupland’s recent production spanning everything from daily-newspaper serials to Lego sculpture collaborations to underground-parkade installations to Terry-Fox-themed running tracks to wry sloganeering. But that’s also, no doubt, part of what will make the survey compelling. Coupland is one of Canada’s most important thinkers and creators, and this exhibition couldn’t come sooner. Runs May 31 to September 1, 2014.

Rebecca Brewer at Catriona Jeffries
What better way to welcome spring than an exhibition of new work by one of Canada’s most notable younger painters? Brewer won the RBC Canadian Painting Competition in 2011 with a portrait of Joseph Beuys that managed to tie cubism to conceptualism, irreverence to iconography. Since then, the Bard MFA graduate has impressed with a series called Nine Paintings of Ayn Rand which integrates Brewer’s longstanding interest in Western religious figuration. Given her range of references so far, what she will present in March is anyone’s guess—but it will certainly be worth seeing. Runs March 13 to April 19, 2014.

Opening exhibition at the Aga Khan Museum
The Aga Khan Museum, due to open this year in Toronto, will be dedicated to the acquisition, preservation and display of artefacts relating to the intellectual, cultural, artistic and religious heritage of Islamic communities. It will also house the collections of the members of the family of the Aga Khan. So far, the museum collection contains more than 1,000 artefacts and artworks spanning more than a millennium of history—with many of these objects touring the globe to acclaim in advance of the opening of this facility. Designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Fumihiko Maki and surrounded by a large park, the museum promises to be a significant cultural destination nationally and internationally. Opening date to be confirmed.

Julia Dault at the Power Plant
The career of Brooklyn-based Canadian artist Julia Dault continues to rise. This fall alone, fashion designer Jeremy Laing debuted his collaboration with her for his Spring/Summer 2014 collection; Dault signed on to Marianne Boesky as her New York dealer; and her art was included in “Americana,” one of the inaugural exhibitions of the Pérez Art Museum in Miami. Much of this acclaim has come due to Dault’s canny work with opacity and transparency in her sculptures and paintings; as she told Canadian Art in relation to a lecture at Art Toronto 2013, “I want to draw out the viewing experience without relying on cheap tricks.” The Power Plant should be able to provide lots of space for viewers to consider this strategy. Runs fall 2014; exact dates to be confirmed.

La Biennale de Montréal at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
2013 saw lots of changes in Montreal’s art scene, chief among them the amalgamation of the MAC’s Quebec Triennial with the Biennale de Montréal. The first partnered edition of this exhibition will take place this fall during the musée’s 50th anniversary, and many will be watching—not only to see what the results are of two staff and two guest curators working on the theme “L’avenir – looking forward,” but also, as with past editions of the triennial, to see what newer and emerging Quebec artists are highlighted at the event. Runs October 22, 2014, to January 4, 2015.

Valérie Blass at Parisian Laundry
Following on Montreal artist Valérie Blass’s exhibition at the Hole in New York this fall (which Roberta Smith of the New York Times called “a standout show”) Blass’s longtime Montreal dealer Parisian Laundry mounts a solo exhibition of new work. Since Blass is best known for sculpture, the new show is bound to surprise by including a series of photographs created with a puppeteer; in these, Blass’s flair for witty forms promises to come to life in new ways. Runs January 15 to February 15, 2014.

Stan Douglas at Arts Club Theatre Company and the Ryerson Image Centre
In 2013, many were excited to learn that Vancouver-based artist Stan Douglas is working on bringing his sophisticated narrative treatments to an app format. Though it’s not yet clear where and when that app will be debuted, in March Douglas is due to have the world premiere of his mixed-media stage production Helen Lawrence at the Arts Club Theatre in Vancouver. Co-produced with screenwriter Chris Haddock, Helen Lawrence is set in the Vancouver of 1948, much like the app’s narrative is—so who knows? (Helen Lawrence will also tour to Toronto’s Canstage Theatre in October.) Douglas is also slated to have an exhibition related to his 2013 Scotiabank Photography Award win at the Ryerson Image Centre during Toronto’s Contact Festival in May.  Vancouver stage production runs March 13 to April 13, 2014, while Toronto exhibition runs May 1 to June 1, 2014.

“Amalie Atkins: we live on the edge of disaster and imagine we are in a musical” at the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Whether setting rollerskaters adrift against golden grasslands or filming two elderly twins as they embrace in front of a big blue sky, Amalie Atkins has a knack for combining retro imagery and prairie settings in charming, intimate artworks. (No wonder MASS MoCA curator Denise Markonish included her work in “Oh, Canada.”) This winter, a touring exhibition co-organized by the MacKenzie and the Southern Alberta Art Gallery builds on a recent residency at Open Space in Victoria and serves as the first major solo presentation of Atkins’s work. Expect more Saskatchewan-set “sagas of grief, joy and transformation that linger in the memory like half-remembered fairy tales.” Runs February 1 to June 14, 2014.

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