MacLaren exhibitions highlight women artists who have helped to shape abstract painting in Canada

May 24, 2019

Tammi Campbell, Works in Progress (Studies), 2013, acrylic on museum board, 29 x 29 cm. Private Collection. Photo courtesy the artist (left); Rita Letendre, Morning Glow, 1975, acrylic on canvas, 153 x 204 cm. Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Gift of Beverley Zerafa and Boris Zerafa, 2002. Photo: André Beneteau

This spring, the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie is celebrating the accomplishments of Canadian women artists working in areas of abstraction. Three painting exhibitions highlight the enduring influence of these women in contemporary Canadian art.

Employing Modernism as an investigative tool, Saskatoon artist Tammi Campbell recasts ordinary materials into new forms through innovative studio processes. Her solo show, Double Remove, features works that expand the perceptual and conceptual possibilities of paint. Through seemingly unfinished grey-scale studies and reductive abstractions that mimic packing tape, bubble wrap and corrugated cardboard, Campbell ultimately raises questions about the role of painting today.

Drawn from the MacLaren’s Permanent Collection, The Clean Shape presents hard-edged abstractions by three celebrated Canadian artists—Janet Jones, Rita Letendre and Doris McCarthy. The exhibition is catalyzed by two recently conserved paintings by Letendre, which represent a major breakthrough in geometric abstraction in Canada.

MacLaren Associate Director/Senior Curator Emily McKibbon says of the artists in The Clean Shape: “Doris McCarthy, Rita Letendre and Janet Jones have not only blazed a trail for future women artists working in abstraction, each has produced remarkable work that holds and will continue to hold enormous power for many generations yet to come.”

Other works from the MacLaren’s Collection are also on view this season. In the Joan Lehman Gallery is Slapchartreuse, a 2013 painting by Vancouver artist Allyson Clay, and a gift from the artist. In this vividly-coloured painting, Clay uses phrases from Roald Nasgaard’s seminal book, Abstract Painting in Canada, to demonstrate how masculine-identified language limits our understanding of art history.

The Clean Shape can be viewed until June 16, while Double Remove and Slapchartreuse will be on display until June 23. Free public tours of the exhibitions are offered upon request during Gallery hours.

For more information, please contact Emily McKibbon, Associate Director/Senior Curator, 705-720-1044 ext. 224 or