Retrospective (In Quotations): Garry Neill Kennedy

Tuesday, 1 November 2011 to Sunday, 8 January 2012

What makes an exhibition? What makes an artwork? Governor General Award-winning artist Garry Neill Kennedy has been asking those questions for over 30 years in his wall paintings and text-based work. In Retrospective (In Quotations), a new exhibition from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s Permanent Collection, we feature a series of Garry Neill Kennedy’s “archive” pieces, works developed using methods of critical analysis of art museums and their procedures.

Each of the fourteen panels in Retrospective (In Quotations) represents a solo exhibition of Kennedy’s work. Each panel contains original material pertaining to a particular Kennedy exhibition and “found” material used in an ironic way to cast a sardonic light on the operations of art galleries. The nature of these “found” materials – taken from a business publication - also builds a link to another important series of works by Kennedy, his works on the theme of corporate culture. His sly mixture of fact and fiction in these and other works display a cutting wit and pointed sense of irony about the nature of power in capitalist culture, as filtered through the art gallery exhibition. 28 years ago Kennedy was already “occupying” the gallery. It’s as timely now as it was then.

Kennedy offers:

I made the work for a travelling exhibition called Museums by Artists sponsored by the Art Gallery of Ontario and it was about work of that nature (Institutional critique) - it included a group of international artists.

My work was called Retrospective (In Quotations) - where all the ephemera, invitations, pages, etc are real and all the captions (stories) and photos are my inventions. I found all the photos from one magazine, entitled Executive. It was mailed to my office gratis every few months.

My work was hung across the room from Hans Haacke's The Chocolate Meister. Daniel Buren told me that the Haacke piece was so real it seemed false (unbelievable) and my work was so false it seemed real (believable).

Garry Neill Kennedy lives and works in Halifax and is one of the foremost distinguished figures in Canadian art. He is an artist, educator and was the President of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design from 1967 to 1990. Born in St. Catherine’s Ontario he studied at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto, earned his BFA from the University of Buffalo and MFA from Ohio University. Kennedy has exhibited extensively and his work was the subject of a major retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa in 2000. In recognition of lifetime achievement, Garry Neill Kennedy was awarded the Portia White Prize by the Nova Scotia Arts Council (2000); the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts through the Canada Council for the Arts (2004) and invested as Member of the Order of Canada (2004). Garry Neill Kennedy continues to teach at NSCAD in the Studio division.