The Myth of Consensus

Rita Letendre's Asor is a colourful serigraph print comprised of diagonal bands of yellow, brown, green and blue
February 13, 2020 to April 5, 2020

Featuring works from the Permanent Collection and a commissioned response by Aislinn Thomas

Marcel Barbeau, Christopher Birt, Jack Bush, Adèle Duck, Harold Feist, Eric Gamble, Robert Hedrick, Reg Holmes, Gershon Iskowitz, Richard Lanctôt, Rita Letendre, Ron Martin, Arthur F. McKay, Gordon Rayner, Milly Ristvedt, William Ronald, Gordon Smith, Takao Tanabe, Harold Town, and Claude Tousignant

Curated by Crystal Mowry


On February 15, 1965 Canada debuted its new national flag – an act bound up with aspiration and declarations of so-called sovereignty. Ubiquitous and deceptively simple, the national flag is something to which we now give little thought. By looking closer at its form, we might be surprised to find similarities with a basic understanding of what a painting can be: a piece of fabric with brightly coloured lines or simplified shapes that hold symbolic meaning for a group of people.

The decade following Canada’s adoption of the maple leaf flag as a symbol of national unity would reveal a country fraying at its seams. The bloom of counter-cultures and constitutional separatism mobilized a rebellious new generation of citizens. Against this cultural backdrop, artists sought out innovative ways to give voice to an era of rapid societal change, turning away from traditional modes of representation and towards abstraction.

The Myth of Consensus convenes rarely-seen abstract works from the Permanent Collection dating from the 1960s and 1970s. Bombastic, moody, and rich in hue, these works provide a snapshot of a different nation taking shape in the studios of artists across the country.

On the occasion of this exhibition, KWAG has commissioned Kitchener-based artist Aislinn Thomas to create a contemporary response to selected works on view. Working closely with intergenerational volunteers from the public and adopting an experimental approach to visual description, Thomas will develop her project while the exhibition is on view and share the results during the latter half of its run. Community members interested in participating are invited to review our call for participants and contact Crystal Mowry, Senior Curator, to schedule a time in which to contribute to the project.

Click here to see Call for Participants for Aislinn Thomas' visual description project

Rita Letendre (Canadian, b. 1929), Asor, 1979. Edition 57 or 100. Serigraph, 46 x 61.2 cm. Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery purchase, with matching funds from the Ministry of Culture and Recreation (Wintario), 1980. © Rita Letendre. Photo: KWAG.

Related Events & Programs

Mar 12 2020 - 19:00
to Mar 12 2020 - 20:00
Event Type: Talks & Tours
A free Artist Talk featuring Thomas' commissioned response to The Myth of Consensus