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Current Exhibitions





Last Folio: Yuri Dojc
On view October 22, 2016 to May 14, 2017
Curated by Melissa Bennett, Curator of Contemporary Art

Time had stood still since 1942 in a small Jewish village in Slovakia, until nearly 10 years ago when Canadian photographer Yuri Dojc returned to visit his family’s former home. On the eve of World War II, many of the villagers had fled, and those remaining were taken away to concentration camps. Serendipity led Dojc, along with a documentary film team to the local Jewish school, which had been locked since 1943. All the school books were still there, including essay notebooks with corrections, even the sugar was still in the cupboard. The decaying books, which were lying on dusty shelves, the last witnesses of a once thriving culture, are treated by Dojc like the survivors they are, each one captured as a portrait, preserved in their final beauty, silent witnesses to the horrors of history.

The images in Last Folio are a last memento of the culture and people who used those books. Most of them are forgotten, they don’t have relatives or graves. I tried to memorialize them. This is not a documentary but my personal salute to a vanished culture and a vanished people.

"These images absorb me totally. They represent more than what I saw that first day" - Yuri Dojc

CLICK HERE to watch Last Folio (short film)

Get the catalogue at the AGH Shop.


The Living Room: Subject. Object. Verb
October 15, 2016 to May 21, 2017

The Living Room is the name for a new interactive, evolving installation in the Young Gallery, situated on the main level of the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Meant to loosely replicate the function of a family living room (comfortable seating, reading material, music, screens, toys, etc.) the space will be re-invigorated and re-imagined throughout the year.

Subject. Object. Verb is the title given to the Living Room’s first manifestation. The exhibition will be anchored by a selection of photographs from Canadian artist Susan Kealey, whose work frequently contemplates the significance of the tiniest, seemingly most insubstantial of everyday objects. Hamilton writer, poet and author Gary Barwin has designed an interactive response to these pictures. Visitors will be invited to include their own objects as part of the exhibition, filling a large shelf mounted on the wall. They can also use a set of vintage, sound-enhanced typewriters to document their own memories, particularly those connected to objects. The collected pages will be mounted and bound into a book. The book will be used for a series of public readings.



Free admission courtesy of Orlick Industries.

Collection Classics
On view April 9, 2016 to March 19, 2017

Collection Classics and Evolution of Form present both asked-after favourites and rarely-seen masterworks from the collection. As these two exhibitions attest, the 10,000-work strong AGH holdings are a remarkable and impressive resource for our community and region. Bringing together over one hundred objects in a variety of media and from across several centuries and countries, these presentations provide a glimpse into the strength and quality of the AGH holdings.


Saga of a City: Hamilton at 200 Years
On view April 9, 2016 to March 19, 2017
Curated by Devin Therien, Adjunct Curator, European Art and
Bill Manson, Hamilton Historian

Saga of a City commemorates the bicentennial of the founding of the city of Hamilton in 1816.

This historical exhibition traces the foundations upon which an obscure frontier hamlet in 1816 grew to become a major North American manufacturing and transportation centre by 1925. Historically, the development of the city rested solidly on the foundations of location, water, rails, immigration, and industry. However, since 1945 these traditional foundations have been shaken, and today a very different city is in the process of reinventing itself.

Indigenous Nations have lived at the western end of Lake Ontario for centuries. The proximity to water, a temperate climate, and bountiful natural resources made this location ideal. European settlers were attracted to the Head-of-the-Lake, as they called it, for the same reasons.

Early European settlers at the Head-of-the-Lake created agricultural lands and harnessed the power of the many waterfalls to create mill towns like Ancaster, Albion, and Dundas. Many entrepreneurs were active in land speculation. One such was Niagara businessman George Hamilton, who in 1815 purchased 257 acres of land upon which to found a town.

This is the saga of that town and the city that grew from it.


Evolution of Form: 150 Years of Sculpture from the Collection
On view April 23, 2016 to March 19, 2017

Collection Classics and Evolution of Form present both asked-after favourites and rarely-seen masterworks from the collection. As these two exhibitions attest, the 10,000-work strong AGH holdings are a remarkable and impressive resource for our community and region. Bringing together over one hundred objects in a variety of media and from across several centuries and countries, these presentations provide a glimpse into the strength and quality of the AGH holdings.


Staging Abstraction: Paintings from the Collection
On view April 23, 2016 to March 19, 2017
Co-curated by local painter Daniel Hutchinson and Melissa Bennett, AGH Curator of Contemporary Art

Staging Abstraction features quintessential examples of Canadian abstract painting from the 1960s to the 1980s. Many of the works were brought into the collection in their time as the artists were emerging, and through subsequent donations as the Gallery became recognized as a key institutional collector of late modern and postmodern Canadian abstraction. The Gallery now holds nearly six hundred abstract paintings from this period, comprising over a quarter of the museum’s contemporary holdingsyet very few of the works on view here have been exhibited in the last twenty-five years.

Abstract painting faced a crisis beginning in the late 1960s, as new categories of art such as video, installation and performance challenged the compelling narrative of modernist painting, which prioritized pure painting as its own subject. Just a short decade later the art market surged around neo-expressionism, but abstraction as a whole faced renewed criticism. Artists began to adapt the medium, responding with hybridized paintings, often containing several styles and media within a single work. Conceptual and reflexive approaches flourished, and artists often considered social and political content through abstraction.

Over twenty works were selected for this exhibition, to illuminate these radical decades, extending the term “abstraction” to accommodate the divergent practices that have helped set the stage for the complex, pluralistic practices of contemporary art today. Featuring works by Gershon Iskowitz, Joseph Drapell, Barbara Astman, Jack Bush, Yves Gaucher, K.M. Graham, Joyce Wieland, Tim Zuck and more. 

For photo documentation and curatorial essay see here 


Kim Adams: Bruegel-Bosch Bus
Permanent Installation

Repeatedly in his work, Canadian artist Kim Adams has explored the patterns of a mobile society, creating works of art that are eccentric hybrids of the readymade. Blending humour, satire and seriousness, he builds “worlds” as a means of social critique. Adams’ installations exist comfortably in the space that divides life and art. His works have been presented in two very different social worlds: in a densely social environment such as a park or street and in a museum setting like the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Neither setting is privileged.

A magnificent visual masterpiece, Bruegel-Bosch Bus consists of a 1960 Volkswagen that appears to pull a post-industrial universe displaying a cornucopia of fantastic and seductive worlds that play with our senses. It was produced over a 7-year span. This futuristic diorama is a permanent fixture in the AGH Sculpture Atrium overlooking the Irving Zucker Sculpture Garden, past Hamilton City Hall and the Niagara Escarpment. Reminiscent of a previous installation by Adams titled Earth Wagons that presented a micro-model North American society fixed on leisure and entertainment, the Breugel-Bosch Bus encapsulates the next whole world picture, a world in which reality and unreality, logic and fantasy, banality and sublimation of existence, form an inexplicable unity. This ‘bus’ is a Kubrickesque megalopolis made of icons symptomatic in present society and draws upon urban fantasies, phantasmagoric, post-apocalyptic landscapes, and a plethora of different times and cultures. Buildings from different epochs are aligned side by side and space becomes an imaginary territory where chaos prevails.


The Jean and Ross Fischer Gallery
Free admission courtesy of Orlick Industries.

Framing History: Photojournalism and the Hamilton Spectator
On view September 9, 2016 to January 9, 2017
Organized by the Hamilton Spectator and the Art Gallery of Hamilton in both the Jean and Ross Fischer Gallery and at the AGH Annex

Harold "Joe" Ballantine joined The Hamilton Spectator as the first staff photographer in 1935; he marked the beginning of a transition away from daguerreotype, lithograph and drawings as the dominant means of visual storytelling for the paper. Ballantine carried the industry’s hallmark large Speed Graphic camera and flash gun and wore the pressman's fedora of the era. He covered everything from royal visits, to Grey Cups, accidents, fires and famous celebrities as well as the infamous Evelyn Dick trial. His talent helped fill the pages of the Spectator for 42 years before he retired as chief photographer in 1977. Framing History: Photojournalism and The Hamilton Spectator will give viewers insight into the photographers who came after Joe Ballantine, and will showcase over eight decades of images, including top news events and pop culture moments that defined our community, and the human moments large and small that reflect our ever-changing city. The Hamilton Spectator was founded on July 15, 1846. Framing History: Photojournalism and The Hamilton Spectator is one of many initiatives planned for the community as part of a year-long celebration of the 170 years of committed written and visual storytelling.

Unbuilt Hamilton

On view September 24, 2016 to February 12, 2017
Jean and Ross Fischer Gallery and AGH Annex

Unbuilt Hamilton is an exhibition and book that presents the Ambitious City at its most ambitious, exploring unrealized building, planning, and transportation proposals from the early 19th century to the early 21st. Drawing on archival illustrations, plans, and photographs from Mark Osbaldeston’s forthcoming book, the projects showcased include a magnetically propelled, elevated transit system, a vast mountain war memorial, and a plan from 1917 that would have transformed Ferguson Avenue into the Champs-Élysées. Alternate designs for Jackson Square, Christ’s Church Cathedral, and the Thomas McQuesten High Level Bridge cast new light on familiar landmarks. Unbuilt Hamilton presents the Hamilton that might have been.

A Hamilton native, Mark Osbaldeston’s first book, Unbuilt Toronto, was the basis for an exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum and was a finalist for the Toronto Book Awards and the Speaker’s Book Award. It also received a Heritage Toronto Award of Merit, as did its sequel, Unbuilt Toronto 2.

Get the book at the AGH Shop.




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