The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery is proud to present Blue Cloud, an exhibition featuring Cape Dorset artist Ohotaq Mikkigak (1936-) with Toronto painter Jack Bush (1909-1977). Conceived by Toronto-based independent curator Nancy Campbell, Blue Cloud is the third in her series of critically acclaimed exhibitions that challenge the conception of a linear Canadian art history by bringing together Inuit artists with their Southern counterparts.
Blue Cloud presents a selection of large and small landscape drawings by Ohotaq Mikkigak alongside several early paintings by Jack Bush, an artist whose work is understood as synonymous with international modernist abstraction. The exhibition's unconventional pairing observes provocative formal similarities between both artists' works.
Like Ohotaq Mikkigak, Bush's oeuvre changed significantly late in his life. Both artists are master colourists, making radical, poetic pictures with streaks of colour. Both discovered imagery in the things immediately around them; and both radically abstract from nature. The selection of works in this exhibition highlights both artists' unique interpretation of their surroundings, and in the shared qualities of their work, makes the case for a more integrated understanding of contemporary Canadian art.
Jack Bush (John Hamilton Bush) was a Canadian abstract painter born in Toronto in 1909. His youth was spent in Montreal where he studied at the Royal Canadian Academy. Jack Bush's work is often tied to abstract expressionism and colour field painting. From 1953-1960 he was a member of the Painters Eleven group founded by William Ronald. His style and contributions to Canadian art have been celebrated ever since. He died in Toronto in 1977.
Ohotaq Mikkigak was born in 1936 in Cape Dorset, Nunavut where he continues to live and work. Recently, Ohotaq has joined his younger colleagues like Shuvinai Ashoona and Tim Pitsiulak in the Kinngait studios. The works included in this exhibition represent a stark departure from his earlier works, which were predominantly prints with images of birds and fish. The recent works cover a wider range of themes and subjects, including animals, landscapes, seascapes and other imagery from his community. Mikkigak is represented by Feheley Fine Arts (Toronto).
Blue Cloud is the third of Toronto curator Nancy Campbell's trilogy of exhibitions. It is preceded by the award-winning Noise Ghost (2009), which featured the work of Shuvinai Ashoona with the drawings and installations of Toronto artist Shary Boyle, and Scream (2010), which highlighted the sculpture of Samonie Toonoo with the drawings of Toronto artist Ed Pien. An illustrated catalogue will be produced in association with this project (2012).