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John Freeman, Cupid, the Virgin and the Cold Gaze of Reason, 1995/96, Oil, Acrylic and photocopy transfer on
Chris Cran, Panel Of Four Negative Portraits Of The Artist By Andy Warhol (#7), 1988, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas,
Jane Ash Poitras
Jan Gurnowski & Andy Warhol
In 2012, the AGA’s Special Collections Gallery will feature three consecutive exhibitions dedicated to showcasing contemporary art from Alberta. Each exhibition will consider different aspects of regional artistic production in relation to the themes and ideas being addressed in other AGA exhibitions. All three exhibitions will be drawn from the Art Gallery of Alberta’s collection, which numbers over 6,000 works in a variety of media.
The first exhibition considers the icon versus the portrait. In the history of art, the icon was initially understood to be a sacred image of a religious figure. These icons stand in as a proxy for the personae that they represent, and can themselves be objects of veneration. Portraits, on the other hand, are representations that are intended to provide a likeness, or an image, of a specific individual.
Today, the word icon is applied to an unprecedented number of images, objects, symbols and people. It is as likely to be applied to a branded commodity like the Twinkie as it is to a movie star, such as Marilyn Monroe. Partially in response to this shifting definition, this exhibition will focus on the icon as a sacred image while setting it in contrast to the portrait. VENERATOR will feature contemporary artworks that incorporate icons or portraits while refashioning their dominant-meaning within a new context. The power of vision, the viewer’s gaze and the icon’s gaze, is frequently referenced. In both the portraits and the icons, the artists play with the potential to fully access or comprehend the subjects before us.