Builders: Canadian Biennial 2012. An exhibition that showcases some of the most provocative and important art being made in this country today from November 2, 2012 to January 20, 2013

Ottawa - October 31, 2012

Twitter: @_conversations #NGCbuilders

The second biennial exhibition showcasing new Canadian art acquired by the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) over the past two years opens this Friday November 2. Builders: Canadian Biennial 2012 features over 100 artworks acquired by the Gallery’s departments of Contemporary Art, Indigenous Art, and Photographs, and selected from some 300 pieces of contemporary art purchased by or donated to the NGC since 2010. A range of artistic media is on view, from paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints, to photography, video and multimedia installations created by 45 emergent, mid-career, and long-established Canadian artists. Supported by the RBC Foundation, Builders: Canadian Biennial 2012 is on view until January 20, 2013.

"In placing emergent practices alongside long-established Canadian artists who have been instrumental in “building” a context for Canadian art today, Builders offers the opportunity to appreciate the range of aesthetic accomplishment in this country", said NGC director Marc Mayer. "It also reflects how this national museum builds upon its permanent collection through an informed understanding of the dynamic and thought-provoking realm of Canadian contemporary art at the most ambitious levels, and across generations."

According to organizing curator Jonathan Shaughnessy, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the NGC, “The multigenerational approach highlighted in Builders questions the often-held bias that innovation and creative experimentation are primarily the purview of new and emerging talent. Rather, the exhibition asserts a commitment to recognizing and discovering contemporary artists across generations whose work exemplifies and builds upon determined and original creative visions.”

To this end, Builders highlights a range of new productions by influential, some now iconic figures of Canadian art such as Michael Snow, Lynne Cohen, Chris Cran, Faye Heavyshield, Evan Penny, Joanne Tod, and Leslie Reid. Within this established basis the exhibition meanders through an engaging path featuring works by many newcomers to the collection including Ottawa-based painter Melanie Authier; Winnipeg-born, Los Angeles-based painter and sculptor Jon Pylypchuk; the multidisciplinary Toronto artist Sandy Plotnikoff; as well as a unique sound installation by Vancouver-, and Berlin-based artist Mark Soo. Artworks by David Altmejd, Marcel Dzama, Sarah Anne Johnson, Ron Terada, Lynne Marsh and many other now well-rooted figures in the Canadian art milieu also figure prominently in the exhibition.

In the Builders exhibition visitors will be able to access curator and artist interviews on iPads. Video content will be updated through the run of the show. Wireless access in the exhibiton space will enable visitors to share their thoughts through social media.  For those without smart phones or Twitter accounts there will be two computer stations at the end of the exhibition from which people can send Tweets.  Follow @_conversations on Twitter and join the conversation using #NGCbuilders.

Building a dynamic collection reflective of Canadian art today
One of the aims of Builders and the NGC’s Canadian Biennial program is to elucidate how Gallery curators in the departments of Contemporary Art, Indigenous Art, and Photography make decisions regarding acquisitions. In building a dynamic collection reflective of the diverse field of Canadian art today, Gallery curators survey a wide-range of media from across artistic generations. Moreover, Builders reflects upon the practical work of artists who, in lending material form to ideas and emotion, shape original ways of seeing, understanding and relating to the world around us.

Builders: Canadian Biennial 2012
is accompanied by a catalogue, available in English and French. Published by the NGC, the 184-page volume features a forward by the Gallery Director, as well as five curatorial essays that speak to different aspects of Builders and its concept. Moreover, context and rationale from the Gallery’s three departments devoted to collecting contemporary art can be found in the catalogue entries. On sale at the NGC Bookstore for $40 and at, the Gallery's online boutique.  

Thursday 1 November at 6 pm. Official opening of the exhibition with the director, curators, dignitaries and special guests in the Great Hall. Free admission.

Meet the Curator
Friday 9 November at 12:15 pm (in English)
Friday 16 November at 12:15 pm (in French)
With curator Jonathan Shaughnessy. Included with exhibition ticket.

“Build on it” mini talks
Weekends from 3 November to 20 January at 2 pm (in English)
Weekends from 3 November to 20 January at 2:30 pm (in French)
10-minute talks on a work in the exhibition Included with exhibition ticket.

Adult Art Tours
Tuesday 18 December at 1:30 pm (in French)
Friday 21 December at 1:30 pm (English)
Maximum 25 participants.Cost: 7$, plus Gallery admission. Group visits available upon request.

Stimulating the Senses Descriptive Tour
Thursday 29 November at 6 pm
Discover art through senses other than sight. Cost: $7 (Members $6). Bilingual. Space is limited. Registration required by 14 November at 613-998-8888.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and full-time students, $7 for youths aged 12 to 19 years, and $30 for families (two adults and three children). Admission is free of charge for children under 12 and for Friends of the Gallery. This includes admission to the NGC Collection. Tickets are available by telephone at 613-998-8888 or 1-888-541-8888, and online at

Opening hours
The Gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday until 8 pm. Closed Mondays. Open November 11, Remembrance Day at noon, and between December 26 and 31. Closed on December 25, and January 1.

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 an extensive touring art exhibition programme. For more information:

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For more information, please contact:

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