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Current Exhibitions




Expanding the Circle: Robert Davidson and the Ancient Language of Haida Art
On view February 11, 2017 to May 28, 2017

Organized and circulated in part by the McCord Museum, Montreal

Robert Davidson Xyaalang (Dancing) 2013

"If we look at the world in the form of a circle, let us look at what is on the inside of the circle as experience, culture and knowledge. Let us look at this as the past. What is outside of the circle is yet to be experienced. But in order to expand the circle we must know what is inside the circle. It has been the art that has brought us back to our roots. I am proud to be one of those people chosen to put the puzzle back together and move on. The challenge is ours to keep expanding the circle." - Robert Davidson

Just off Canada's North Pacific coast is a series of islands called Haida Gwaii, which have been home to the Haida people for more than 10,000 years. For generations, this Indigenous culture has produced some of the world's most visually stunning and intellectually complex forms of art. On their lush island home off the Northwest Coast, Haida have fashioned a world of outstanding artistic expression, one that sustained them through near annihilation in the late 19th century. This exhibition shines a light on one strand of their rich heritage by presenting an outstanding selection of historic Haida artworks.

In the past, as today, Haida artists could be male or female. Their creative output was astonishing - carved and painted chests, lifelike masks, finely woven baskets, complex songs and dances, intricate tattoo designs, imposing totem poles. This exhibition presents over seventy works that explore themes fundamental to Haida life and culture including potlatch ceremonies, performance, the power of transformation, and ceremonial art.

Contemporary Haida artists are constantly exploring the ancient language of their art; it is the foundation on which new endeavours are built and the grammar with which future histories are written. In the organization of this exhibition, the McCord Museum worked with renowned Haida artist Robert Davidson to guide the selection of historic artworks and discuss their significance. As such, the entirety of historical objects in this exhibition is drawn from the collection of the McCord Museum, with Davidson's insights woven into the exhibition commentary.

For the presentation of this exhibition in Hamilton, we are thrilled to include work by Davidson in conjunction with these historical objects. A selection of his painting and sculpture, many never before exhibited, has been selected with the artist in order to bring this artistic conversation to the present day and to highlight the work of this magnificent Canadian painter.

Sara Angelucci: Piece Work

On view February 11, 2017 to May 14, 2017
Curated by Alana Traficante

Born in Hamilton to Italian immigrant parents, Sara Angelucci is well known for autobiographical work in a range of media including still photography, moving image, sonic performance and installation. With Piece Work, Angelucci revisited her mother's history as a garment worker, producing a new installation in three parts, in collaboration with contemporary workers at Hamilton's Coppley Apparel.

Coppley has operated continuously in the same white stone building on York Boulevard since 1883, and has employed every wave of new immigrants to the city, including Angelucci's late mother Nina, who arrived in Hamilton in 1957. In Piece Work, the factory signifies more than a long-standing local business or the artist's familial hisory. It is a capsule of the city's social history, and the diverse communities that together contribute to the fabric of our industrial roots. While Hamilton's labour history is often associated with the dominant narrative of masculine steel workers, the apparel industry, and its majority women workforce, was at one time a major player in the city's industrial economy.

Today, women continue to form the majority of the apparel industry workforce and Coppley is one of five remaining garment manufacturers in Hamilton. Although each maker is often anonymous, the women's combined piecework - the 123 pieces required in the construction of a man's suit - result in the carefully crafted image of successful masculinity. Working closely with sewers in the space of the factory, Angelucci presents a series of poignant artworks that bring attention back to the experience of the worker - in visual, auditory, and symbolic ways.


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.

Sunday, May 14, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
2:00 - 4:00pm

As a wrap up to the first iteration of the Gallery Living Room space, author and Living Room contributor Gary Barwin will host a public reading from over 2000 typewritten pages that Gallery patrons contributed as part of this installation. Special Guest readers will also be on hand. Free Admission.





Free admission courtesy of Orlick Industries.

Nature and Man Revealed: The Mr. and Mrs. H.J.M Watson Collection of British Drawings
On view April 1, 2017 to October 8, 2017


Nature and Man Revealed features the wide-ranging 18th-and 19th-century drawings recently donated by long-time Hamilton collectors Clare and Michael Watson. The high quality of this collection of British art in Canada is exceedingly rare. Thus, this exhibition presents an opportunity to view important works, many of which are on public display for the first time.

Such outstanding views as Thomas Girtin's Romantic Landscape reveal the first steps towards the more fluid and dynamic pictures of his close friend J.M.W. Turner. Alternatively, James Thornhill’s Triumph of Amphitrite and Richard Cosway's Daphnis and Chloe illustrates the English fascination with Greco-Roman mythology. In short, the exhibition will highlight the quality and breadth of the Watsons' collection, which shines brightest when the 18th-century Academic works and colourful chalk drawings of Antique subjects are contrasted with the pictorial diversity characteristic of British landscapes.


Collection Classics

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.


Evolution of Form: 150 Years of Sculpture from the Collection

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
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.

Women's Art Association of Hamilton 121st Annual Juried Exhibition
On view February 18, 2017 to May 7, 2017

The Women's Art Association of Hamilton was formed in 1894 in response to concerns that Hamilton's cultural life might be overshadowed by the rapid growth and industrialization of the city. It played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Art Gallery of Hamilton in 1914 and in building the Gallery's extensive collection. Their annual juried show has occurred every year since their inception, and has been hosted by the AGH since 1947.

Today the Association continues to be a collective of talented women artists and art enthusiasts with a goalto promote appreciation of the visual arts among its members and within the community.





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