Canada Pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition − la Biennale di Venezia Steven Shearer: Exhume to Consume

Ottawa - June 1, 2011

The National Gallery of Canada is delighted to announce full details of Steven Shearer’s presentation at the 54th Venice Biennale. This solo exhibition includes a selection of Steven Shearer’s paintings, drawings and sculptures, featuring new and never-before-seen works, which draw from diverse influences such as art history, popular culture and vernacular architecture.

On the approach to the Canada Pavilion Shearer has created a nine-metre-high free-standing mural in response to the architecture of the adjacent British and German Pavilions. The mural is part of a false entrance to the Pavilion via a tool shed-like structure, one of Shearer’s signature motifs. This monumental facade features a new poem written by the artist, drawing from the vocabulary of Black and Death metal music, which conjures the sublime, nihilistic power of language, and seeks to provoke a visceral response in viewers.

Inside the Pavilion the exhibition comprises 12 paintings, featuring several of Shearer’s most recent works, including The Fauves, where the artist experiments with a variety of new techniques and explores the theme of the artist and his muse. The exhibition also includes 81 drawings, the majority of which have never previously been displayed. These works suggest an alternative side of dissent and social alienation, simultaneously exposing the vulnerability of the human subject and examining its relationship to the outside world. In addition, the show features one sculpture and a unique book of 127 poems.

Adopting and elaborating upon styles and themes specific to the history of figure painting, including those associated with Symbolism, Expressionism and Fauvism, Shearer draws formal and thematic parallels between art history and forgotten or discarded aspects of society. He exhumes objects, images and ideas from history but also from his own past, re-infusing these with meaning by inserting them into a contemporary context. His work stems from his ongoing compilation of thousands of images that are culled from sources such as fanzines, online message boards and image shrines on personal websites. These fragmentary sources function generatively as they are combined and recycled across his work. His art elicits the psychic and emotive potential within these images and transforms them to reflect his subjective experience.

“Under its pop-cultural surface, Steven Shearer's work is complex and insightful. By showing us aspects of popular culture anachronistically, and from so many different points of view, he exposes the false hierarchy of high and low art and prompts us to consider the more interesting differences between the cultural industries and the art world, ” said NGC Director and CEO, Marc Mayer. “The Venice Biennale is the most important showcase for contemporary visual art and we are delighted to bring this brilliant young Canadian artist to new international audiences.”

2011 Canadian Representation
Steven Shearer “Exhume to Consume” at the Venice Biennale has been organized by the National Gallery of Canada. The project has been generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, a long-standing champion and partner of Canada`s representation at Venice; Aeroplan; The Canada Pavilion Patrons and the Contemporary Art Circle of the NGC, as well as many other individuals, foundations and corporations. The National Gallery of Canada would also like to signal the generous support of Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich; Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London; Galleria Franco Noero, Torino; and Gavin Brown`s enterprise, New York.

About Steven Shearer
Steven Shearer has exhibited widely internationally, with solo shows in Amsterdam, Birmingham, Zurich, Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Turin, Tokyo and Vancouver, notably. Recent group exhibitions include Double Album: Daniel Guzmán and Steven Shearer at MUCA, University Museum of Arts and Sciences, Mexico City, and at the New Museum, New York (2008); The Order of Things at Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp (2008); Blasted Allegories. Works from the Ringier Collection at Museum of Art Lucerne (2008); Canada Dreaming, at Kunstverein Wolfsburg (2006); All the Pretty Corpses at The Renaissance Society, The University of Chicago (2005); Pin Up: Contemporary Collage and Drawing at Tate Modern, London (2004); and Rock My World: Recent Art and the Memory of Rock ‘n’ Roll, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2002). In recent years, eight of his works have entered Canada's national collection.

The Curator: Josée Drouin-Brisebois, National Gallery of Canada
Josée Drouin-Brisebois is Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada and has organized and written essays for numerous exhibitions, including It Is What It Is: Recent Acquisitions of New Canadian Art (2010); Nomads (2009); Caught in the Act: The Viewer as Performer (2008); Dé-con-structions (2007); and Christopher Pratt (2005). Her writing has also appeared in the book Otherworld Uprising: Shary Boyle, as well as in Canadian Art Magazine, Border Crossings, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art and Prefix Photo.

Steven Shearer’s presentation in Venice is accompanied by a 256-page full-colour publication, including an essay by Josée Drouin-Brisebois and an in-depth interview between the curator and the artist. The book is published by the National Gallery of Canada.



About the Canada Pavilion
Canada has participated in the Venice Biennale since 1952. In 1958, under the direction of the National Gallery of Canada, famed Italian architect Enrico Peressutti, from the Milanese architectural firm Studio Architetti BBPR, designed and built the Canada Pavilion in the Giardini di Castello, at the heart of the exhibition grounds.

About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art, including the extensive collection of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. 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. To do so, it maintains the largest touring art exhibition programme in the world. For more information please visit

Visitor Information
Address: Canada Pavilion, Giardini di Castello, 30122 Venice
Dates: 4 June — 27 November 2011
Opening Times: 10 am — 6 pm Tuesday to Sunday. Closed Mondays
Vaporetto: Giardini

For more information on the Canada Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale please visit:

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For more information, images and interview requests, please contact:

Josée-Britanie Mallet
Senior Media and Public Relations Officer
National Gallery of Canada

Claire Schofield
Manager, Communications and Public Relations
National Gallery of Canada