The National Gallery of Canada celebrates a major donation by Canadian artist Ian Wallace

OTTAWA, Oct. 15, 2015 /CNW/ - An important large-scale artwork by the renowned Canadian artist Ian Wallace is now on view at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC). Abstract Paintings I – XII (The Financial District), a suite of twelve canvases each over two meters high were generously given to the national collection by Wallace himself in 2014. This comprehensive and impactful work by the Vancouver-based artist will be on view in Ottawa until March 2016.

Created in 2010, Abstract Paintings I – XII (The Financial District) exemplifies Wallace's critically acclaimed approach to "painting," as he refers to his process, whereby photographic prints combine with the viscous element of paint. The work depicts a disorienting number of views looking up, out and away from bustling intersections in downtown Toronto's financial district and its soaring office towers, assertive corporate entrances, and ongoing construction and development. Wallace describes his Abstract Paintings I – XII (The Financial District) as motivated by the grandeur to create a contemporary history painting, in this case one partially inspired by the socioeconomic insecurity and fallout from the 2008 North American financial crisis. Wallace's oeuvre has often focused on the diverse demographics of city life as encountered on the street, for example in his 1988 production At the Crosswalk that was purchased by the Gallery in 1990, and which becomes a significant complement to the artist's donation here. 

"Ian Wallace has made a vital contribution to the history of contemporary art in Canada, and continues to do so. On behalf of all Canadians, I want to express our gratitude for this outstanding and exceptional gift," said NGC Director and CEO Marc Mayer.

Abstract Paintings I – XII (The Financial District) (2010) adds to the 30 works by Ian Wallace already in the national collection, which include photographs, paintings, drawings and a collage, all representing various periods in his production.

About the work
To create Abstract Paintings I – XII (The Financial District) Ian Wallace shot Toronto's busy downtown core from multiple locations and vantage points. The resulting series was conceived to be presented as an anthology of sorts, comprised of six sets of two views from locations including the intersection; the construction site; the office atrium; the crowds in the street; from above; and from below. Each canvas is composed through Wallace's trademark structure whereby photographs are enlarged to a monumental scale, cropped and abstracted though not obscured. An expressive palette of colour – from vibrant red to cool neutralizing grey - is respectively applied to one side of each of the works while a white monochromatic band of paint coats the other. In the photographs glass towers become grid structures; cranes, scaffolding and light posts bisect the vista; and corporate logos appear as though by happenstance; skyscrapers flirt at becoming wholly aestheticized cubes. Installed together in sequence, the suite of twelve panels comprising Abstract Paintings I – XII (The Financial District) is a powerful artwork that Wallace has stated relates to "the evocation of the sublime in the iconic paintings of the Canadian landscape, particularly as reflected in paintings by Lawren Harris of the icebergs and mountains of the "mystic north." My photographs present monumental corporate architecture as the "new sublime" of the urban Canadian landscape."

About the artist
Ian Wallace was born in Shoreham, England in 1943 and immigrated to Canada in 1944.  He trained as an art historian at the University of British Columbia and completed his MA in 1968 with a thesis on Piet Mondrian. He taught art history at UBC between 1970 and 1987, and at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design from 1972 to 1998, in addition to maintaining an active practice as an artist. A contemporary of Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, and Iain Baxter, among others, Ian Wallace is recognized as a leading conceptual artist in Canada. He has had a significant influence on the development of contemporary art in Vancouver and has brought international attention to the work of its artists through his activities as an art historian, teacher, critic and artist. Ian Wallace's work has been exhibited across Canada and internationally over the past four decades. 

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The NGC is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays until 8 p.m. Closed Mondays. Open from noon until 5 pm on 11 November (Remembrance Day). Open between December 26 and 31. Closed on December 25 and January 1. For more information call 613-990-1985 or 1-800-319-ARTS.

Tickets: $12 (adults); $10 (seniors and full-time students); $6 (youth: 12-19); $24 (families: two adults and three youth). Admission is free for children under the age of 12 and for Members. Includes admission to the NGC Collection.

About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. For more information, visit


SOURCE National Gallery of Canada

For further information: For media only: Josée-Britanie Mallet, Senior Media and Public Relations Officer, National Gallery of Canada, 613.990.6835 /

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