TO NOVEMBER 29 Fresh—both refreshing and cheeky—aptly evokes the Diana Thorneycroft: Canada, Myth and History exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. The Winnipeg artist juxtaposes toy figurines with well-known landscape paintings in memorable, outlandishly staged photographic tableaux that seem comical but ultimately reveal darker underpinnings. Her Group of Seven Awkward Moments series irreverently deconstructs mythological narratives and challenges notions of cultural identity in such works as Early Snow with Bob and Doug, which places über-Canuck pop icons the McKenzie brothers against the back-drop of Tom Thomson’s 1916 oil painting, Early Snow. Among the other iconoclastic, diorama-like images, expect to see a brilliant exploration of Canadiana emblems like mounties, Bobby Orr, and the Tim Hortons double-double.
ON NOW Colossal clay sculptures by one of the world’s premier ceramicists take over the Gardiner Museum as part of Bigger, Better, More: the Art of Viola Frey. The California-based artist, who died in 2004, helped elevate the status of ceramics as an art form in the latter half of the 20th century. Monumental in aesthetic and scale—the exhibition’s 22 works fit into crates that occupied two 18-wheeler transport trucks—Frey’s figures, such as the larger-than-life Weeping Woman, boast bright primary colours and an electrifying marriage of ceramics, painting and sculpture that offers a provocative commentary on American life. Complementing this retrospective is the release of a catalogue that compiles three essays about the artist along with photographs of her bold mixed-media pieces. Pick it up for posterity at the popular Gardiner Museum Shop.
OPENS NOVEMBER 24 The boy-king is back—30 years after his celebrated Canadian debut—with his fellow pharaohs in tow. The Art Gallery of Ontario showcases King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, with more than 100 incredible artifacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb, including weapons, jewels, furniture, his golden sandals, and a gold, carnelian and coloured-glass Canopic Coffinette. Also on view are historical objects from Egyptian temples and other royal tombs circa 2600 to 660 BC, including one of the largest icons of the monarch ever unearthed—a 10-foot statue with much of its original paint intact. There’s also a CT scan of Tut’s mummy! Even if you succumbed to “Tutmania” during the 1979 exhibition, it’s still worth reacquainting yourself with the pharaoh. The AGO’s new display offers an almost entirely different collection of treasures, with twice as many relics as the previous show.