The Art Gallery of Mississauga frequently brings in dynamic exhibitions from a variety of locales—both from local artists and from those who hail from the other side of the world, as was the case with last year’s fascinating “(Dao bao)(Takeout)” exhibit. But for their latest exhibition, “Allegory of the Cave”, the gallery keeps things close to home, choosing to highlight their own permanent collection and adding an interesting new twist to its presentation that aims to change the way viewers consume the AGM’s art.
Clearly making the most out of the gallery’s somewhat limited space, a wall full of art immediately greets the viewer as they enter. The whopping 42 pieces of art on one wall are both impressive and a little overwhelming. Holding paintings, photography, contemporary art, and traditional Inuit artwork, the wall is a dizzying collection of media and styles.
There are many interesting works in this cluster, but one that stands out, thanks in part to its creator’s name recognition, is Arthur Lismer’s “Tree in the Forest, BC”. Lismer, a member of the famed Group of Seven, had a distinctive, frenetic style that is well represented in this relatively small oil painting. Boasting rich blues, browns, and greens, the piece is punctuated with splashes of stark off-white. The subject may be small, and the painting pales in comparison to some of Lismer’s more famous work, but it’s nonetheless an eye-catching piece in the AGM’s collection.
On the opposite wall, the gallery opted for a clean simplicity, displaying just three large photographs. As the label explains, the gallery wants to “turn a new lens on art in Mississauga” and collect more photography, video, and other “lens-based” works.
This focus on newer forms of media is appropriate. In this latest exhibition, much of the gallery’s back room is devoted to explaining the AGM’s new digitization project. The idea is to make the gallery’s permanent collection more accessible to the public. Like most art galleries, the AGM’s collection is far too large to ever display all at once, so much of the artwork spends a lot of time stowed away in storage. Now the gallery plans to take high-quality photographs of each piece in their collection and upload them online so that art enthusiasts can enjoy the entire collection at their leisure.
Interested AGM visitors can even witness the digitization process firsthand. Nestled in the back of the gallery are a sturdy tripod, a pair of high-powered lights, and an easel that bears the next piece of art set for digital immortalization. The gallery staff will work their way through the permanent collection, and they’re letting the public watch the extensive photoshoot happen as it unfolds over a number of days.
“Allegory of the Cave” runs at the Art Gallery of Mississauga until January 1.