Garry Neill Kennedy, The Colours of Citizen Arar, 2007 Felt tip markers and graphite on graph paper 42.5 x 272.0 cm  Purchased with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Grants program/Œuvre achetée grâce au soutien du programme de Subventions d’acquisition du Conseil des arts du Canada, 2015


Saturday, 16 January 2016 to Sunday, 3 April 2016

Garry Neill Kennedy’s The Colours of Citizen Arar is a powerful, provocative wall painting that occupied the Zwicker Gallery at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia for nine months in 2007/8. Dramatically filling the space with intense vertical bands of colour, the work’s more sinister references slowly cohered out of the black shadows of the superimposed text: the colours were named in descriptions of the bruises, humiliations and instruments of torture experienced by Canadian citizen Maher Arar during his infamous interrogation in Syria. Kennedy’s large, conceptually-challenging wall paintings, all employing the “Superstar Shadow” font, deal with issues of power in culture; however, due to the tension between its initial visual seductiveness and underlying tragic referent, this monumental yet evanescent work is his most overtly political and arguably most poignant.

Garry Neill Kennedy is one of Canada’s most prominent and pioneering contemporary artists. In addition to an extensive exhibition history, Kennedy also held the position of president of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design from 1967-1990, establishing the school at the forefront of art education. Recently, MIT Press published a book, The Last Art College: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1968-1978, that chronicles the first ten years of his presidency. Kennedy is a recipient of the Order of Canada (2003) and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2004).

The Nova Scotia Spotlight series highlights recent acquisitions to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s Permanent Collection by artists contributing to the province’s cultural heritage. With support from Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. in Memory of Robert W. M. Manuge.