National Gallery of Canada

Paul Klee Exhibition: 5 Takeaways

Last week D. and I finally made the trek downtown to the National Gallery of Canada to see the Paul Klee exhibition.

See how happy I am? I’d had my eye on this exhibition for nearly a year, it was a long time coming.

See how happy I am? I’d had my eye on this exhibition for nearly a year, it was a long time coming.

Several things struck me as we made our way around the gallery. With the (not so) hidden agenda of capturing them for future reference, I thought I’d share them here. Voici, my top five takeaways from seeing Klee’s work:

1. Small is beautiful.

I was very surprised at how small Klee’s paintings were. I’ve seen them in books, but often the coloured plates featured in the books are larger than the paintings themselves. The small scale in no way diminished my engagement with his pieces though, in fact, it made me lean in and look at them more closely. Maybe that was his intention all along.

2. Don’t be afraid to move things around.

Klee would paint a watercolour then cut the sheet in pieces and move the pieces around, switching the order of things. He did this with Temple Gardens, below, and the more I flip through my newly bought Klee books (of course I bought new Klee books!) the more I’m learning that he did this often.

Temple Gardens, 1920, by Paul Klee. Klee cut his original watercolour into three sections and moved the centre one to the left. NOTE: This piece also floored me with its size - about 7”x10”. I thought it would be much bigger.

Temple Gardens, 1920, by Paul Klee. Klee cut his original watercolour into three sections and moved the centre one to the left. NOTE: This piece also floored me with its size - about 7”x10”. I thought it would be much bigger.

3. Experiment with different materials.

Watercolour on gesso on fabric, bordered with gouache and ink, mounted on cardboard. That’s a thing, with Klee. He wasn’t afraid to mix materials. It makes me want to experiment with my art supply stash. I bet you have a stash too. I think we should pull out our stashes and play.

4. Let your artistic freak flag fly.

Klee’s pieces rarely depict something as we see it in real life. Overlapping lines and shapes might represent anything from plants or animals to people or spirits. None of these images look realistic yet they still engage and are able to communicate meaning and feeling to the viewer.

Some of these non-representational images birthed by Klee reminded me of images I created in the past that I promptly dismissed and in some cases painted over. I did this because they looked weird and nonsensical, they didn’t look like anything “real”.

Tsk, tsk.

Imagine the tragedy had Klee done the same? Embrace the freak flag, let it fly.

5. Use what you have on hand.

Klee painted on cardboard a LOT, so seriously, time to gesso the back of that cereal box and get cracking! No excuses. If it’s good enough for Klee, it’s good enough for all of us.

.:.

The Klee exhibition is still on until this Sunday, March 17th, I highly recommend it. If you have a chance to see it let me know what you think. I’d love to know what your takeaways are.

Art Exhibitions I Want to See in 2019 (or, I Want to See All of the Art)

In addition to its many smaller art galleries, Ottawa is is home to – or within a reasonable train ride to – several major galleries and museums that offer large-scale, international exhibitions. Often at the beginning of a new year I check out my list of usual suspects to see what’s on or what’s coming up. I keep this in mind when I’m in the mood for an art-related adventure.

These are on my radar for 2019…

National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa)

Paul Klee’s  Temple Gardens  (above) is part of the exhibition at the National Gallery.

Paul Klee’s Temple Gardens (above) is part of the exhibition at the National Gallery.

Paul Klee: The Berggruen Collection from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

November 16, 2018 to March 17, 2019. Colours and shapes and symbols, oh my! I have to get moving on this one if I want to catch it before it closes. D. and I have it penciled in for next weekend.

Gauguin: Portraits

May 24, 2019 to September 8, 2019. It’s Gauguin. And portraits. ‘Nuf said.

Canadian Museum of History (Ottawa)

Notman, Visionary Photographer

Until April 14, 2019. I follow the Canadian Museum of History on Facebook and keep seeing images from this exhibition in my feed. I know nothing about Canadian photographer William Notman, but I am drawn in by his work. Therefore, it goes on the short list.

Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston)

In the Present: The Zacks Gift of 1962

August 25, 2018 to April 7, 2019. I’m intrigued by the time period covered by this exhibition (the 1960s) and by one of the pieces featured on the website. The piece is by Marcelle Ferron, a Québécoise painter associated with a group called the Automatistes. Back in January when D. and I visited the Musée national des beaux-arts in Québec city we saw several paintings by some of her male counterparts, but alas, I don’t remember seeing any by women. Here’s my chance. Also, I’ve been wanting to visit this gallery for a while now so… short list.

McCord Museum (Montreal)

Treasures in the Attic

December 16, 2018 to March 17, 2019. OK I’m not sure if I’ll make it to this one because there are only so many museums I can visit between now and mid-March, but an exhibition featuring antique and vintage toys? That’s short list material whether I manage to see it or not.

The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology

June 14, 2019 to September 15, 2019. If I can’t make the vintage toys exhibition, maybe I try to make this one. It speaks to my love of images and nostalgia.

Yours truly climbing the stairs up to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec’s Pierre Lassonde pavilion. Photo by D.

Yours truly climbing the stairs up to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec’s Pierre Lassonde pavilion. Photo by D.

Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (Québec)

Miró in Mallorca. A Free Spirit

May 30, 2019 to September 8, 2019. How often do we get to see a collection of Miró pieces in our neck in the woods? Not very often, which is why this one’s on the list. Plus, D. and I visited this museum for the first time in January and were absolutely smitten with its spaces. If you’ve never been I highly recommend a visit.

Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto)

It's Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection

July 13, 2019 to January 5, 2020. I’m not a huge horror or sci-fi fan and full confession: I didn’t know who Kirk Hammett was until I read the description. I still think this is cool. And I think D. would get a kick out of it. So many of our art adventures are Stephanie-focused, here’s one for you D.!

.:.

Et voilà, my short list for the year so far. I rarely make it to all of them, but a girl’s gotta have some goals, yes?

For the record, there are many other exhibitions on deck in and around Ottawa that are not on this list. You might want to check out the new Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) or Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). If art’s your thing, I encourage you to take a look at the websites and tally up what speaks to YOU.

In spirit of discovery,

Stephanie