Group of Seven Awkward Moments (Winter on the Don) ©Diana Thorneycroft
Group of Seven Awkward Moments (Beavers and Woo at Tanoo) ©Diana Thorneycroft
The Martyrdom of St. Celine at the Canadiana Stampede ©Diana Thorneycroft
Birches in Winter Algonquin Park © Diana Thorneycroft
Group of Seven Awkward Moments (In Algonquin Park) © Diana Thorneycroft
Early Snow with Bob and Doug © Diana Thorneycroft
Group of Seven Awkward Moments (The West Wind) © Diana Thorneycroft
The work of Diana Thorneycroft will be on display for the first time in France at The Canadian Cultural Center until September 9, 2011. Born in 1956, Diana Thorneycroft lives and works in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Although the selection on display here represents her first individual exhibition in France, Thorneycraft enjoys international recognition (with exhibitions in Canada, the United States, Europe, Tokyo and Sydney…).
Diana Thorneycroft’s Extraordinary Stories. Caustic Landscapes of the Canadian Imaginary is the title of the exhibition at the Cultural Canadian Center gathering works from her photographic series “Group of Seven Awkward Moments”, including 20 pictures that marked the Canadian art scene (the magazine “Canadian Art” considered this series one of the ten best exhibits in Canada in 2008). This series is accompanied by older works, no less joyously iconoclast, entitled “The Canadian Martyrdom Series". Through these lively and narrative pictures, Diana Thorneycroft takes an ironic and unforgiving look at “national identity and sacred truths of her country”.
These reconstructed visual stories combine plastic characters in fantasy settings provoking a voluntarily subversive and “iconoclastic” vision of Canada. She toys with “feelings of national identity, revealing their artificial nature”. The artificial settings with their natural lighting are visual lies, sending the spectator towards a world of tourism, frozen but reassuring, domestic but entertaining.”
“Group of Seven Awkward Moments" is, however, inspired by the famous picture of the “Group of Seven”.
This group of painter-explorers sought to invent a “new style”, highlighting the wild nature of Canada, definitively distancing it from the European art featured in Canadian museums. “Their landscapes, made with bright colors and large strokes were designed, in the 1920’s, to represent a distinct identity, evocative of Canadian national sentiment.”
For Diana Thorneycroft, the wild nature idealized in “The Group of Seven” becomes paradoxically stained by “embarrassing events” where true events, customs, taboos and stereotypes come together.
As for the martyrs of the “The Canadian Martyrdom Series”, they are Canadian cultural celebrities, cynically represented by plastic toys, “their absurdity breaking with the ordinariness of violence created by widespread images in mass media.”
Diana Thorneycroft uses the spectator’s attraction to idols and violence, pushing it to the burlesque, resembling the cultural industry’s natural limits. It is simple to understand how a foreign audience observing these “atypical Canadian” scenes might put into doubt the exportation of Cultural exoticism.
This exhibition is presented parallel to the major collective exhibition My Winnipeg that includes Diana Thorneycroft. It is the first of a series featuring selections from cities boasting cutting edge artistic identities. In My Winnipeg, Diana Thorneycroft will be featured alongside Guy Maddin, Marcel Dwama, the General Idea Collective, Shary Boyle and Ken Monkman.
The exhibition opens June 23 at the Maison Rouge / Antoine de Galbert Foundation of Paris.
Diana Thorneycroft’s Extraordinary Stories. Caustic Landscapes of the Canadian Imaginary.
Until September 9
Centre culturel canadien
5, rue de Constantine
75 007 Paris