New exhibition at Kelowna Art Gallery features works from Canada's historic first Group of Seven

Group of Seven exhibition

A new exhibition will soon be viewable at the Kelowna Art Gallery, showcasing a seldomly seen side of Canadian art history.

Northern Pine: Watercolours and Drawings by the Group of Seven from the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is bringing 66 widely unknown works to the gallery in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first Group of Seven exhibition in 1920. 

The exhibition features watercolour studies, graphite sketches and a rare portfolio of lithographs. 

“The works are very accessible,” says executive director of the Kelowna Art Gallery Nataley Nagy.

“We hope visitors will be as fascinated as we were to see these stripped-down working sketches and studies — they truly give us a window into who these seven artists were and how they came to influence the Canadian artistic landscape.”

Artists Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald, and F.H. Varley formed the Group of Seven who were responsible for the first major national art movement in Canada. They are perhaps best known for their vivid oil paintings that depict the Canadian landscape.

The Group of Seven were draughtsmen who worked as commercial artists while also sketching their own artistic practices, before being recognized as accomplished artists. Visitors of the exhibition will get a chance to see this aspect of their work.

Most of the art on display comes from the McMichael's collection in Kleinburg, Ontario.

“The McMichael’s collection of drawings and other works on paper by the members of the Group of Seven is a glory of our museum’s holdings too often hidden from view,” says chief curator at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection Sarah Milroy.

“Often accomplished works of art in their own right, these works provide us a backstage pass to the workings of the Group, and they challenge the canonical gravity with which their paintings have increasingly been viewed. This was a band of upstarts and adventurers after all, and their drawings return us to that fact.”

The exhibition runs from October 24, 2020 to March 7, 2021.

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