Major retrospective celebrating contemporary artist Alex Janvier arrives October 7 at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

Major retrospective celebrating contemporary artist Alex Janvier arrives October 7 at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection


 Organized by the National Gallery of Canada

KLEINBURG ON—From October 7, 2017, to January 21, 2018, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection proudly presents the extraordinary works of Alex Janvier, one of Canada’s most acclaimed contemporary artists. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada (NGC), the Alex Janvier exhibition celebrates this innovative artist’s lifetime of creativity, and recounts his love of Dene culture and devotion to the re-empowerment of Indigenous art. As the largest and most comprehensive retrospective on the artist to date, this exhibition establishes Janvier as an important figure in the development of modern Indigenous art in Canada.

“The McMichael is a preeminent institution that continues in its efforts to present an all-encompassing picture of the Art of Canada*, particularly contemporary Indigenous art,” said Ian Dejardin, Executive Director of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. “The cultural importance of Alex Janvier’s work is outstanding, and our hope is to build greater awareness of his impact while broadening knowledge and visibility of an overlooked part of Canada’s cultural heritage,” he added.

Through more than 100 remarkable paintings and drawings chosen from a prolific 65-year career, Alex Janvier features works from both private and public collections across Canada, and includes well-recognized masterpieces completed by the artist alongside an incredible installation of 34 circular paintings—a constellation of Janvier’s works spanning more than 35 years that can be viewed as a metaphor for the cycle of life.

Well known for his ability to merge cultural aesthetics in his pioneering work, the artist’s unique paintings—with their brilliant colours, calligraphic lines and conjoined abstract and representational imagery—combine Denesuline iconography with Western art styles and theoretical techniques, such as modern abstraction and automatic painting.

Organized by Greg Hill, Audain Senior Curator, Indigenous Art, at the NGC, this touring exhibition also highlights Janvier’s integral role in the advancement and celebration of Indigenous art in mainstream Canadian culture. Janvier was a founding member of the ‘Indian Group of Seven’, officially known as Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. (PNIAI). Formed in 1973, PNIAI members were dedicated to raising the profile of Indigenous artists. Alex Janvier is now the third member of the group to have a retrospective exhibition organized and toured by the National Gallery of Canada, following those for Norval Morrisseau and Daphne Odjig. These exhibitions are in recognition of the tremendous contributions these artists have made to Canadian art as much as for their leadership and inspiration for successive generations of Indigenous artists.

Reflecting the geocultural landscape of his northern Alberta home, Janvier’s works on paper, canvas and linen reference the culture and history of Indigenous Peoples, including his own experience of the effects of colonization and residential schools, where he was forbidden to speak his own language. “Janvier is one of the most important artists in this country in part because of how he has come through the adversities of his childhood and has turned these into strengths,” said Exhibition Curator Greg Hill. “He found a way to exist in the space between a strong family unit and an imposed educational program designed to assimilate him into the dominating culture.”

Janvier was born on February 28, 1935, in Le Goff Reserve, Cold Lake Indian Reserve (now Cold Lake First Nations), Alberta, and is of Dene Suline and Saulteaux descent. As a Member of the Order of Canada, Alberta Order of Excellence and Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Janvier has achieved distinguished success and global recognition for his groundbreaking contributions. With a distinct style of painting firmly rooted in the cultural soil of Canada, Alex Janvier’s long and abundant career has added much to the nation’s cultural fabric.

To attend the Alex Janvier Media Day on October 12, 2017, from 1 to 4 pm, or to request interviews and high-resolution images, please contact: Daniela Travierso-Galati at or call 905.893.1121 ext. 2210.

*The Art of Canada is an official mark of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.


About the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of over 6,000 artworks by Canadian artists, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists. The gallery is located on 100 acres of northern landscape and hiking trails at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in the City of Vaughan. For more information:

About the National Gallery of Canada                         

The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada’s premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st centuries, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. In 2015, the National Gallery of Canada established the Canadian Photography Institute, a global multidisciplinary research center dedicated to the history, evolution and future of photography. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @NatGalleryCan.


Media Contacts:

Daniela Travierso-Galati
Media Relations and Communications Coordinator
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2210


Nick Foglia
Director, Communications, Marketing and Sales
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2265

*The Art of Canada is an official mark of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.