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Nine Shows We Want to See This Spring (Besides Venice)

Across Canada March 21 to June 20, 2013

The advent of warmer weather across the nation has also brought the prospect of exciting new exhibitions. Here are nine we’re anticipating—besides (of course) the Venice Biennale, which opens to the public June 1.

Jeremy Bailey at Pari Nadimi Gallery, April 4 to May 4
Of late, Bailey’s self-proclaimed satirical identity as a “Famous New Media Artist” is beginning to gain real-life traction, with his works and performances featured at the Stedelijk Museum, Transmediale and the New Museum. This show features results of a Kickstarter campaign he ran in February to provide donors with their very own “21st century augmented reality portrait.”

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun at Macaulay & Co., April 4 to May 4
In 2010, Yuxweluptun had an acclaimed solo show at Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery, and with good reason. For three decades, he has brought an acerbic and overtly political sensibility to dramatic, highly engaging paintings and drawings. New work is a must-see.

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller at the Art Gallery of Ontario, April 6 to August 18
With their New York installation Murder of Crows recently winning honours in an art-critics poll, Cardiff and Miller return to Toronto and their many fans here. The duo’s immersive and often participatory environments invite viewers to occupy the grey zones between reality and fiction that lie at the heart of their collaborative work. This show surveys key pieces from the mid-1990s to the present, including Dark Pool and Storm Room. It’s also accompanied by an artist lecture April 3.

Slavs and Tatars at Presentation House Gallery, April 12 to May 26
This is will be the Canadian exhibition debut of Slavs and Tatars, a collective interested in “the area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China.” In the fall, the group was featured at MoMA in an intriguing black-light installation. In Vancouver, they’ll be looking specifically at intersections between Poland and Iran in an exhibition titled “Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi’ite Showbiz. Curated by Vancouver artist Babak Golkar, it will include pająki (traditional Polish paper chandeliers), banners, riverbed sculptures, a photo mural, a fountain and mirrored mosaics.

Steve Higgins at MSVU Art Gallery, April 20 to June 2
Halifax artist Steven Higgins recently had a show largely comprised of drawings and prints tour the nation. Now, he hopes to make some of those two-dimensional works come to life in three dimensions. During his past couple of months as artist in residence at the MSVU Art Gallery, the public could partake of his building process; on April 20, he will unveil the finished work, which promises to be on a scale rarely seen in Halifax.

Gabrielle de Montmollin at Red Head Gallery, April 24 to May 18
Toronto-based artist de Montmollin goes for the jugular—as well as the jocular—in this show. Titled “Stephen Harper Hates Me,” it takes the prime minister’s political decisions as a personal affront, pasting images of the politician into various studio scenes and interjecting whimsical figures and masks into press photos of him as well.

Papier 13, April 26 to 28
Showcasing paper-based artworks in a variety of forms—photographs, installations, drawings, watercolours, sculptures, bookworks and more—this Montreal art fair has a scale and a focus that charms rather than overwhelms. Its setting (a tent in the Quartier des Spectacles, also with a public-art component) and admissions fee (nil) offers an accessible tack that is another part of its appeal.

Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Canada, May 17 to September 2
A few years ago, National Gallery of Canada director Marc Mayer promised us a quinquennial of indigenous art; “Sakahàn,” meaning “to light a fire” in the language of the Algonquin, is the kickoff edition. With more than 150 works by 81 artists from around the globe, it aims to interrogate various cultural, political and social issues. Also keep an eye out for parallel projects around Ottawa, including a Rebecca Belmore show at the Carleton University Art Gallery and a group exhibition at Gallery 101.

Dominique Pétrin at Martha Street Studio, opening May 31
This Montreal artist, featured in the most recent Quebec Triennial, has wrapped buildings in silkscreened patterns and papered the insides of galleries with dazzling colours and images. It’s a large-scale—and often performative—printmaking practice that is winning her a growing number of fans from London, UK, to (this spring, likely) Winnipeg.

For more recommendations of what to see this season, check out the Agenda section of our Spring 2013 issue, which is on newsstands now. Weekly picks are also posted each Thursday in the Openings section of our website.

This article was corrected on March 28, 2013. The Cardiff and Miller exhibition at the AGO was initially due to include the piece The Cabinet of Curiousness. That work is no longer to be included in the exhibition.

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